While the press establishment, bolstered by a phalanx of wannabes, useful idiots, and the plain misguided, frames the John Whittingdale story as a Hacked Off hit job, assembles its retaliation, and attempts to take down the campaigning group, the reason it was created in the first place has once again reared its ugly head. Yes, phone hacking is back with us - not that you would have guessed from most newspapers.
The sense of déjà vu is only compounded by the fact that now, as then, the story is only being carried - thus far - by the Guardian. No other paper is reporting on it. And, probably because of the continuing ruckus surrounding the Whittingdale saga, and the attempts to take out Hacked Off, the stuff of which tabloid editors’ wet dreams are made, we have not even had the chorus of “non story” and “conspiracy theory” - yet.
So what’s the deal? “An email that it is claimed shows a senior Sun executive asking a former News of the World journalist to hack the voicemail of Heather Mills’s sister Fiona is part of new evidence presented by alleged phone-hacking victims in a bid to launch civil claims against the Sun … The claimants … allege that the 2006 email shows the Sun executive editor Geoff Webster approving phone hacking”.
And who is ponying up the information? Ah well. Now it gets a little bit tasty for the Murdoch doggies: “It has been provided by the convicted phone hacker and former News of the World news editor Greg Miskiw in support of an application to include the Sun in a tranche of phone-hacking claims against News Group Newspapers, the owner of the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World”. He may know where the bodies are buried.
Who’s on the legal team? It gets even better: “Acting for the claimants, David Sherborne QC said: ‘What’s clear is these stories are being fed in ... at a high level by Mr Miskiw or [Glenn] Mulcaire, straight to those at the top end of the tree’ … He added that the email shows voicemail interception was ‘approved of at a very high level at the Sun newspaper’”. David Sherborne will be familiar to anyone who watched the Leveson Inquiry.
It was Sherborne who represented actor and campaigner Hugh Grant, and at one point caused significant discomfort to the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre. Can it get any worse for the Sun? It certainly can: “They are also presenting evidence from two other convicted phone hackers, Mulcaire and Paul McMullan, in support of claims that 40 articles published in the Sun were obtained through phone hacking”.
No wonder they’re all playing “look over there at Hacked Off”. More on this later.