Leading article: The two faces of the News of the World

 

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The cache of phone-hacking evidence published yesterday has explosive implications, seeming to confirm both that the practice was endemic at the News of the World and that senior staff may have known it. Meanwhile, just a few miles away, two Pakistan cricketers were found guilty of involvement in a betting scam thanks to their exposure by the paper's top reporter. Thus, the two sides of the now-reviled Sunday title.

The revelations from the Culture Select Committee documents look damning. An opinion provided by Michael Silverleaf QC in 2008 talks of "overwhelming evidence" that a number of senior journalists were involved in hacking and of a "culture of illegal information access". James Murdoch's always unlikely-sounding claim that he believed phone hacking was conducted by a single "rogue reporter" looks flimsier than ever.

With that in mind, the verdict on Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif could not have come at a better time. As the Leveson Inquiry into hacking gets underway, and each new revelation of the scale of the practice stokes public fury at gutter journalism, it is as well to remember that not all News of the World investigations involved targeting the phones of celebrities and murdered teenagers. The cricket spot-fixing story is a much-needed reminder that investigative journalism, done properly, is a force for good.

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