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Friday 10 July 2009

Murdoch is Served (5)

And still the revelations of phone hacking come in: now, we’re told, the News of the World were even snooping on Rebekah Wade, editor of sister Murdoch red-top the Sun. And still there are some on the fringes of this increasingly messy looking affair who are reluctant to take on board the potential implications. They may have good reason to be so inclined.

David Cameron, still “relaxed” about the presence of his communications chief Andy Coulson in the editor’s chair of the NotW while so much forthright criminality was originating in that paper’s newsroom, still stands by his man. And, as I noted yesterday, the Tories have bad memories of the last time the Guardian was on their case. But there is yet another, more compelling, reason for Cameron to stand by Coulson: he’s part of the Murdoch “family”, a factor that has been picked up by Gary Gibbon on the Channel 4 Politics blog. Sticking by “one of theirs” may get Cameron the endorsement of the Murdoch press. He’d like that.

The need not to alienate Rupe and his troops has also been taxing Pa Broon. As the FT’s blog shows, Brown first declined any comment yesterday, then later merely said that the matter “raises issues that are serious and will obviously have to be answered”. Nobody who wants to be in power in the UK, it seems, wants to upset Murdoch.

And, judging from the less than prominent coverage given to this business by many papers yesterday, there is not too much enthusiasm for raking over the methods used by some of their number to obtain information, as Alastair Campbell noted this morning on his blog. But there is good reason to believe the story will not go away.

Nick Davies is one of them. His further revelation in the Guardian that the list of those hacked includes Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will make for discomfort in the Tory Party and the Murdoch empire. Ferguson is an unwavering supporter of Labour. Moreover, he is not noted for letting such acts pass by. And, as the Guardian has also noted, there is an increasing number of slebs considering legal action. Allied to this is the comment by House of Commons culture committee chairman John Whittingdale that he would be asking Murdoch sidekick Les Hinton if he would like to amend evidence previously given.

Nobody wants to upset Murdoch. But there are many who loathe him, and the way his newspapers browbeat and bully politicians and other public figures. If the legal actions being contemplated bring Rupe down a peg or two, there will be no small amount of relief and even rejoicing.

This, as I observed yesterday, is the main event: Andy Coulson is merely an interesting side show.

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