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Sunday 24 May 2015

Phone Hacking - Is The Mail Next?

While giving evidence before the Leveson Inquiry, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre was adamant: his paper had not participated in the branch of The Dark Arts otherwise known as phone hacking. Indeed, in his evidence to the Inquiry he had accused actor and campaigner Hugh Grant of “mendacious smears” when the latter had suggested that a Mail On Sunday story could not have been obtained other than by hacking.
Who f***ing says my hacks have been hacking phones, c***?!? Er, with the greatest of respect, Mr Jay

As a result of Dacre and Associated Newspapers going after Grant - and giving the impression of using his Inquiry as cover - Leveson stated “I am not willing to allow what is an obvious conflict between one of the core participants and another to divert attention from my concern about the customs, practices and ethics of the press”, and ordered Dacre to appear once more before him. The vindictive Dacre has trashed the Inquiry ever since.

The conclusion had to be that the Mail was so affronted at the suggestion that they had been down in the trough with the red-tops that they were prepared to make sure anyone and everyone knew they did not hack. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the Mail was top of Steve Whittamore’s charts at the time of the Operation Motorman raid which revealed a massive trade in illegally obtained information.

But no more thought had been given to the idea that the Dacre doggies might have had a dabble at the hacking game - until the reaction to awards against the Mirror titles last week. The Mail’s report, titledPaul Gascoigne, Sadie Frost and Shane Ritchie win big payouts from Mirror Group Newspapers as judge awards eight phone-hacking victims more than £1.2million damages” pleaded “But rape payout is just £11,000”.

Wait, what? Yes, readers were told that “Payouts awarded under the Government’s criminal injuries compensation scheme pale in comparison to yesterday’s payouts”. This is, of course, a complete non sequitur, as a statutory scheme is being compared to awards which have to take into account factors such as distress, intrusion, repetitional damage, consequential losses, and, in the case of the Mirror titles, the frequency of the hacking.

But the continuation of the complaint over size of awards was also the lead item in Glenda Emeritus Amanda Platell’s column yesterday. Under the titleWhere's the justice in Sadie Frost's £260k payout for phone hacking?”, readers are asked “There can be no doubt phone hacking was a disgraceful intrusion into people’s private lives. But do its victims - many of them already hugely wealthy - really deserve such vast sums of money?

Do go on: “I ask, because on that very same day, another press conference was taking place in a rather more modest setting. This time it was Sharon Wood, 44, speaking at the end of her nine-year battle for justice with Thomas Cook after the death of her children Christi, seven, and Bobby, six”. But the Mail would usually not report on the problems at other papers - unless there was something worrying the industry, and especially them.

Why is the Mail concerned about the Mirror awards? Is Dacre worried he may be next?

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