There are some hacks reporting on Phonehackgate who clearly have little knowledge of their own paper’s involvement, and one of these is the Maily Telegraph, today joining in the kicking of former Daily Mirror editor Piers “Morgan” Moron. In a piece that contains nothing not already known, Raf Sanchez trots out the tired headline “Pressure on Piers Morgan as Daily Mirror phone-hacking allegations grow”.
The clincher for Sanchez is that he has found a photo of the appalling Moron in the company of the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks, and – most damningly – Andy Coulson. All three are smiling, and Moron is in possession of a glass of sparkling wine, so that’s him off to the Scrubs for a handful, then.
But what’s the evidence? James Hipwell, who fell out with Moron over the “City Slickers” affair – for which one can hardly blame him, given that Hipwell did time and Moron got away with it – has told “I can’t say 100 per cent that he knew about” phone hacking. But he says it’s “inconceivable he didn’t”. Fine – bring on some real evidence and let’s have more spectator sport.
And, while Sanchez goes looking for something better than what he dug up from half an hour’s Googling, perhaps he could stop for a moment and consider the potential fate of the “news executive” at the Telegraph who may be in the frame for the excursions into the territory of the “Dark Arts” performed by the Sunday Telegraph, and which have been duly recorded by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News.
As Davies noted, reporters at the title “were allowed to commission the dark arts themselves, but the costs started running out of control so the paper imposed a rule that all such work must be commissioned through a news executive”. So who might that person be? One information request that was made, and fulfilled, on his or her watch occurred in July 2003.
MoD weapons specialist David Kelly was found dead at 0830 hours on Friday the 18th. The Police gave out the information in a press release at 1100 hours. At 1538 hours, a fax was sent to the Sunday Telegraph with details of every phone number called from the Kelly household between 1 March and 23 April. All those numbers would give hacks leads to quiz friends and get more stories.
That information was obtained illegally. The effect of its arrival at the Sunday Telegraph was to prove intrusive to anyone on the list, with little or no public interest defence. And, taken with the willingness of the Telegraph to engage in acts of entrapment with Cabinet Ministers, and their eagerness to outbid even the Sun for dubiously obtained CDs, this is one pair of titles skating on very thin ice.