While many hacks, pundits and indeed their readers are distracted by the sound and fury of the EU referendum campaign, news has emerged that the hacking by those working in the service of the Mirror group titles - that’s the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People - has resulted in not only the payment of yet more damages to those hacked, but also some grim accounts of the circumstances in which the hacking was done.
Just how barrel-scraping the behaviour became comes clear from the Guardian’s report: “The actor Nigel Havers has accepted undisclosed damages from Mirror Group Newspapers after its journalists intercepted his voicemails for stories about his grief as he nursed his dying wife”. Can it get worse? It certainly can.
“Mirror journalists and private detectives working on their behalf had targeted him between 2000 and 2004, but particularly between April and August 2004 … ‘[This] was the period when Mr Havers was nursing his late wife, who was then in her final stages of her battle with cancer, the time of her passing and her funeral,’ the statement, read out by his barrister, David Sherborne, said”. And which title did the hacking?
“The hearing marked settlements reached between Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) and nearly two dozen claimants, including Davina McCall, Kym Marsh and Rhys Ifans, after the company admitted its journalists hacked their voicemails for stories … The claims concerned stories and investigations by reporters from the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People” [my emphasis]. All three of them.
That is important: previously, it was believed that the late and not-at-all lamented Screws had been setting the hacking benchmark, and that the Sunday Mirror (plus perhaps the Sunday People) dabbled in this particular dark art in order to keep up with the Murdoch mafiosi. But it now seems the Daily Mirror was at it too, which undermines the defence of the Murdoch Sun that it was only their Sunday stablemate that was up to no good.
It also puts a number of editors from the Mirror group titles in the firing line: during the period from 2000 to 2004, the Daily Mirror was edited by Piers Morgan, who has testified before the Leveson Inquiry that he had no part in hacking phones, the Sunday Mirror was the domain of Colin Myler and then Tina Weaver, both of whom also testified before Leveson, and the Sunday People was edited by Mark Thomas and Neil Wallis.
Wallis, who likes to be knows as “The Wolfman”, but is more often referred to as “The Rasping Fuckwit”, has already effectively pleaded ineptitude, that he was there at the Screws, yet was unaware of the criminal enterprise going on all around him. Will any of these people find themselves in trouble as a result of their papers’ creativity? One thing is for sure - there is very little they can do about it now.
As for the Mirror’s owners, they face an uncertain future. And a lot more financial pain.