Reading Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News, as it considers events at the Sunday Times during the editorship of Andrew Neil, there is one inescapable conclusion as to Neil’s political allegiance: it was, plainly and unequivocally, to the Tory Party. So when Neil, now anchoring the Beeb’s Daily Politics, says that Davies’ revelations in today’s Guardian are one of the “most significant media stories of modern times”, following that by telling that the News of the World had a newsroom “out of control” and could not have mounted a public interest defence of its phone hacking, that ought to tell us something.
And that something is that the Guardian story is first and foremost about the behaviour of the Murdoch empire in the UK, about the potentially thousands of individuals whose mobile phones were hacked, and about the widespread practice of “blagging” – obtaining confidential information about people under false pretences.
Hot on the heels comes a corollary of some substance: that the police knew that a number of public figures, right up to the then Deputy Prime Minister, had been the victims of phone hacking, yet somehow managed not to inform them.
And following close behind is the news that Rupe’s bods have paid out around a million quid – much of it to former Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) chief Gordon Taylor – to avoid matters ending up in court, and to cause those involved to keep schtum.
That’s one hell of a triumvirate.
But, because he was editor of the NotW at the time of the proven hacking of the Royal mobiles, Andy Coulson inevitably gets dragged into this, as of course does current Sun editor Rebekah Wade, his predecessor.
So what? Well, there are already some claims that Coulson, now Tory Party communications chief, is being targeted by Labour as an act of retaliation for Damian McBride, whose inexcusable behaviour I considered a while back. Unfortunately, none of those trying to make this assertion stick have provided any evidence to back up their claims, nor indeed supplied any credible motive. There is good reason for this: it’s total crap.
Labour has seized on the Coulson angle, but the story, as I’ve already shown, is about Murdoch and his empire. There may be discomfort to come for David Cameron, but nothing like the fall that could await Rupe if some of the victims of that “out of control” newsroom decided to join forces and go looking for him.
How so? I’ll consider that next.