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Thursday 9 July 2009

Murdoch is Served (1)

As we move into mid July, folks start to wind down, and organise holidays. Everything gets quieter on the news front. So I’ll have less to comment on, right?


Just to show that the Maily Telegraph does not have a monopoly on embarrassing politicians, the deeply subversive Guardian has unearthed what looks like a large amount of illegal activity within the empire of Rupert Murdoch. It could be bad news for Rupe, and a whole lot worse for David Cameron. Because Young Dave’s communications chief, Andy Coulson, whose influence on the Tory approach I considered a while ago, may be involved.

Coulson was editor of the News of the World at the time that so-called “royal reporter” Clive Goodman took the hit for illegally hacking into the mobile phone records of some of the Royal Family. Goodman went to jail; Coulson claimed he didn’t know about it, but resigned because the acts of forthright criminality had taken place on his watch.

The defence of the Murdoch empire has always been that this was one isolated incident, that the NotW and its journalists otherwise confined themselves to, shall we say, more traditional forms of journalistic enquiry. This is the line taken by Murdoch’s right hand man in the UK, Les Hinton. The Guardian’s revelation suggests, rather, that the incidents for which Goodman served time were merely the tip of a very large iceberg. And the reporter behind the article is not known for deference towards other newspapers: step forward Nick Davies, the man behind the excellent Flat Earth News.

Davies’ efforts make occasionally startling reading. And they also suggest the implication not only of Coulson, but also the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Wade, editor of the NotW before Coulson, now editing the Sun, and set to become Chief Executive of News International later this year.

So Rupe may find his papers in the crosshairs. And for one political party, the thought of having the Guardian on their case will summon bad, bad memories: the Tories are that party, and I’ll look at their prospects next.

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