While the Murdoch goons are trying to put out an increasing number of fires threatening to engulf the Sky Bid - Sun and Screws hacking, Sun illegal blagging, and the improper behaviour alleged at Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) for starters - matters today the High Court in London have reminded anyone wanting to know that use of The Dark Arts also extended to the Mirror titles.
And the problem for the latter group is that they don’t have the deep pockets possessed by the Murdoch mafiosi, despite today’s litany of cases including settlements which in many cases have been for six-figure sums, or as far too many of the Pundit Establishment call them nowadays, “an average sort of annual salary”. That means the millions are steadily adding up, especially when the legal fees are included.
The roll call of names is as impressive as it is diverse: Todd Carty (actor), Charles Clarke (politician), Michelle Collins, Kevin Keegan, Grant Stott (John Leslie’s brother), Lexia Stott (their mother), Jo Wood (Ronnie’s ex), Mary Archer, Jeffrey Archer, Patsy Kensit, Lee Sharpe, Jim Moir aka Vic Reeves, and many more, including the usual complement of EastEnders and Coronation Street actors, plus agents and producers.
There was also Denise van Outen (also blagged), Lawrence and Jackie Llewellyn-Bowen, Jamie Theakston, Gillian Taylforth, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Mel Stein (football agent whose roster of clients included Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne), Sheryl Gascoigne (Gazza’s ex), Cara Tointon, and campaigner Brooke Kinsella. All had their phones hacked.
Also, it was not just about phone hacking: John Thompson’s former wife Samantha was targeted by Private Investigators, as was Jim Moir - and his wife, who was also the target of illegal blagging. More than three dozen cases have been settled today. Some of the hacks who were involved have been named. But, as with so often when it comes to the less than totally legal stuff, one group of people are missing.
Who might that be? Ah well. The ones who so rarely get it in the neck - former Screws editor Andy Coulson excepted - are the ones at the top of the tree: the board members, their editors, and those with whom they share the Top Jobs. As so many of these people are invariably sensitive souls, Zelo Street will for the time being not drop any names, although anyone who wants to know will know who was doing what, and when.
Add to this the recent Byline Media investigation that has uncovered use of illegally blagged information by the Sun, and also all the Mail titles (Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard, when it was part of the same group), and the impression is given that there may be rather more in the way of The Dark Arts to be revealed. How does the press find out so much about you? Now, it seems, we know.
When the Screws got rumbled and was closed, it was thought that what it got up to was merely the tip of a very large iceberg. That thought was right. More later.