While so much of the Fourth Estate was still looking the other way, the runaway train that is Phonehackgate rumbled back through the station and off into the distance with Murdoch Junior looking more and more as if he is unlikely to survive this crisis unscathed, and the more desperate parts of the blogosphere scratching around for angles to excuse their previous inactivity.
The Guardian, once again with Nick Davies in the vanguard, has been first with the latest revelations, that Clive Goodman hacked and tapped phones with the “full knowledge and support” of other (named but for now redacted) senior hacks at the paper, that hacking was “widely discussed” at editorial meetings, and that Goodman had been assured he’d keep his job even if he got guilty.
What was also revealed, though it isn’t in the letter that has been released by the Commons culture committee, is that Goodman’s pay-off from the Screws was far more generous than first thought: it had been believed to be just £60,000 but in fact the package included £90,500 salary, £140,000 in compensation, and another £13,000 in settlement of his legal bill.
So the impression is given that the culture committee was misled. On top of that is Goodman’s assertion that he’d get his job back if he didn’t implicate the Screws any further when his case came to court, which could be construed as an inducement to mislead that court. And Murdoch lieutenant Les Hinton was sent a copy of Goodman’s letter but did not tell the Police and denied hacking was widespread.
But for one leading light of the right leaning blogosphere, all of this counts for nothing: step forward the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes. Staines’ supposedly new angle is to try and suggest that Tom Watson leaked the Goodman letter to the Guardian. The thought does not occur that Nick Davies may have already had it, but for legal reasons was unable to proceed.
It does not occur to the routinely clueless Staines that Davies’ years of investigation into Phonehackgate may have already given him insight into areas of the case not yet universally known: the hiring of Jonothan Rees by Andy Coulson after he had done time is another such. Davies, for instance, had sufficient access to Operation Motorman to devote many pages of Flat Earth News to it.
The application of skill and patience by Nick Davies once again contrasts sharply with the scattergun approach of Staines, where he culls quotes from books and features to demand the scalp of the appalling Piers Morgan, and then wonders why nobody is listening.
Phonehackgate just got really serious. And the best the blogger who brags of being “number one” can do is to whinge about Tom Watson. Must try harder.