Leading article: The parallels between hacking and Watergate


Forty years on, the malfeasance exposed by the Watergate scandal is hardly less shocking than it was at the time. What is different now, however, is the amount of information available.

It was thanks to the peerless efforts of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that the conspiracy behind the Democratic Party headquarters break-in came out at all. But that, as they write in this newspaper today, was just the beginning. In the decades since, a steady drip of evidence – from secret tape transcriptions to public hearings – has filled in the blanks.

That the Watergate anniversary falls in the midst of the Leveson Inquiry cannot but invite parallels. Phone hacking is one thing: appalling, yes, but straightforwardly illegal. More telling is the light being shed on the overlapping, over-cosy world of Britain's political, media and business establishments. The Inquiry has its flaws. But the lesson from Watergate is not to give up.