Hacked Off must be having an effect with their relentless campaign to get the Royal Charter on press regulation – the one that actually bears some resemblance to what was outlined by Lord Justice Leveson – through the Privy Council stage and sealed. We know this because the Daily Mail has begun to howl “look over there” at hacking that is not done on behalf of newspapers.
That some hacking and tapping is done by private investigators and others on behalf of commercial clients was revealed as part of a leak from a Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) investigation. However, and there is inevitably a however when the press is concerned, that one participant was only hacking for papers 20% of the time does not mean that 80% of all hacking is not done by the press.
Sadly and predictably, this figure has been deemed sufficiently convenient to beat the authorities with, and today the Mail has gone totally gaga, first asserting that the Guardian’s story about Milly Dowler’s voicemails being deleted was false, rather than the jury being out on it (Nick Davies had four sources for his copy, or three more than the Mail usually manages), then conflating Leveson and Police work.
“A judge-led inquiry – some might say a show trial – was set up with the Press placed firmly in the dock, and three police inquiries launched, involving almost 200 officers poring over millions of emails and phone records. The police revelled in their task, arresting dozens of journalists in the kind of violent dawn raids normally reserved for dangerous criminals” [my emphases].
The Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor knows full well that Leveson and those three Police inquiries are not one and the same, and to call the former a “show trial” takes the press paranoia to new heights. But let’s cut Dacre and his pals a little slack here: hacking is hacking is hacking, whoever is doing it, and whoever is paying. So of course it should be investigated and appropriate action taken.
What do the Police need to get started? What are they waiting for? Ah well. Consider what started the Screws hacking probe: there was months of painstaking research by Nick Davies (yes, him again). The deeply subversive Guardian did not sit there publishing whingeing editorials, which is what the Mail has done today, but did the investigation and shamed the Met into pulling its corporate finger out.
The Met’s work was helped immeasurably by having Glenn Mulcaire’s notebooks, so there was evidence. More has come to light since. And if anyone wants to see all those corporate hacking clients given the 0600 knock, they too need to get some evidence together, and stop blaming Leveson, for whom anything that wasn’t press related was outside his terms of reference.
Stop complaining, press people, and try doing some proper investigative journalism.