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Tuesday 25 September 2012

Murdoch Is Served (83)


As if to underscore that they are now majoring in the transition of Phonehackgate into Computerhackgate, IndyVoices, once more under the aegis of Tom Harper, has published more details of the deeply dodgy dealings between Jonathan Rees, the Metropolitan Police, and Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Screws. Rees has begun, ever so softly, to sing. And it’s looking worse by the day for the Murdochs.

We now know that the reason Derek Haslam, who had been planted by the Met within Rees’ domain at Southern Investigations, left was because his cover was blown. This happened after Haslam’s private email account was hacked, spyware was installed on his computer, and the fruits of the hacking passed to Rees. The hacker had links to the Screws, and had been accused of hacking for the paper.

Haslam is now taking action against the Met for failing in their duty of care to protect him, not least because it seems no action was taken in respect of the hacking. All of this merely reinforces the thought that the relationship between Rees, the Met and the Screws was close, so close that at times it was hard to tell exactly who was working for whom.

Alastair Morgan, whose brother Daniel was murdered in a south London car park after threatening to expose corruption in the Police, has had no hesitation in demanding that there should be a judicial enquiry into the whole business (see his interview with the Brown Moses blog HERE). Rees was happy to get the hacked document, but is keeping schtum about how he got it.

All of this is, of course, in addition to the phone hacking, where the list of claimants continues to pile up. As he opened a case management review today, Mr Justice Vos revealed that his niece’s husband was one of the latest. The queue of other new appellants includes Sarah Ferguson, Tony Adams, Chris Tarrant, Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, Uri Geller, Leslie Grantham and Tamzin Outhwaite.

This brings the total to 155 cases for civil damages against News International (NI), although as some are joint actions, the number claiming is around 175. Even if those cost NI no more than £100,000 each – and remember, they’ll be footing the legal bill, which in many cases will total far more than the amount of damages – they’re looking at the thick end of another £20 million, and maybe much more.

If the computer hacking is traced back to the Screws, and if it was widespread (remember, phone hacking was only one case at first), there could be tens of millions of payments to come, plus any criminal action, something that is already well advanced in the former case. Yes, other papers could have been at it, but as ever the evidence is what is needed to proceed. And on that, NI was caught red-handed.

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