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back to article PM promises change as police interview ex-spokesman

Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World and Prime Minister's former official spokesman, is being interviewed by the Metropolitan Police about allegations that – despite his earlier denial – he knew about phone-hacking at the paper during his tenure. Another as-yet-unnamed senior journalist at the paper also …

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Hmm.

"which prompted News International to reach the bold and ruthless decision not to sack Rebekah Brooks but instead to close the 168-year-old paper."

... Yeah, and replace it with the "Sun on Sunday".

Thought that was pretty much what it was already...

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A lost opportunity

> journalists at the NotW routinely asked shady private detectives to carry out a range of actions

I think it's safe to presume that *any* news organisation that uses the services of private detectives was/is using them to do "shady" investigations. Ones they do not want pointing back to them, so they can deny (implausible deniability?) knowledge of wrongdoings.

The real tragedy in the whole NoTW affair is that with a bit more investigation and probing, we might have rid the world of the Daily Wail, too.

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Devil

Plausible deniability

I would imagine that there were unwritten "don't ask, don't tell" codes of practice whose purpose was to allow plausible deniability when asked "did you know". I expect the honest answer to that question will be "I made sure that I didn't know, so I could answer that question in the negative".

If Coulson and Brooks deliberately established or continued practices which knowingly kept them uninformed of wrongdoing then, well, they are implicitly complicit. Once this all starts being examined in detail under oath, I would expect the other papers will be in much the same position.

My hope for the outcome from this affair is that in future the GBPublic, as they read stories in the rags, will ask themselves "how did the reporters find this out?"

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Coat

"shady" investigations

"I think it's safe to presume that *any* news organisation that uses the services of private detectives was/is using them to do "shady" investigations"

Not at all. Editors will argue it's a case of using those best placed to do the job, most capable of it, and there's a cost and resource issue as well - it's simple outsourcing. Why send a reporter out to follow someone for weeks on end when there's a dogsbody wiling to do that and relishes the opportunity? It doesn't mean anything "shady" is going on.

Editors and reporters will insist private detectives are simply a tool and resource like any other, that they had no knowledge of any illegal activities, would never have condoned them, and were assured there was nothing illegal going on. Only if it can be shown an editor did know, or perhaps suspected but deliberately made themselves wilfully ignorant of that, is there likely to be a conviction for any conspiracy or complictness. At best the charge will be 'could have done better' which is far from criminal.

Like many others, I strongly suspect editors and reporters knew a lot more of what was going on than they will ever admit to, but proving it beyond reasonable doubt is a different matter.

Mine's the one with the business card of a detective agency and a list of NotW voicemail PINs in the pocket :-)

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Anonymous Coward

RIPA

There is a catch-all clause in RIPA (Section 79 I think).

Basically it says that if you were in charge and didn't know your staff were intercepting communications then you were negligent.

So you either knew - and are complicit; or you didn't - and are negligent.

Rebekah Brooks should be prosecuted, and she would be if the CPS didn't exist. I hope the yanks take action anyway which is quite possible.

Cameron is a dead duck now as well. Rightly so.

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far from criminal...

not so

"Where an offence under any provision of this Act other than a provision of Part III is committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of—.

(a)a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or.

(b)any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity,."

classic catchall

if yuo were a boss and did know what was going on, you're a crook

if you were a boss and didnt know what was going on, you were criminally negligent, and a crook.

If only we had listened to 'news of the screws' all those years and brought back hanging :D

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Stop

RIPA and Neglect

"Basically it says that if you were in charge and didn't know your staff were intercepting communications then you were negligent"

I don't believe that's a fair interpretation of the Act. If it were, someone commits a RIPA offence and their boss, maybe everyone up the chain, is automatically guilty as well.

"is committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of-"

That's better, and then it goes on to list who that covers. Did Wade actually fall under any of those categories at the time of any offence, what is the legal definition of "neglect", and can it be proven a RIPA breach was "attributable to any neglect"?

Wade may be a CEO now but was an editor at the time; that doesn't seem to fall under the list of company officials listed, and not least that the "body corporate" may not be found guilty of a RIPA offence anyway. News International will undoubtedly be claiming they committed no offence even if the monkeys on the ground floor did. That could render the whole clause rather moot.

What if Wade claims she said "don't break RIPA", but they did anyhow? Exactly how far does anyone have to go to not be judged negligent?

To take it, as some seem to be doing, that Wade will automatically be convicted when the house of cards falls seems wishful thinking and in contrast to the realities of how criminal guilt is judged.

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Anonymous Coward

Coulson is going to jail

Probably twice.

Once the met has finished with him, Strathclyde Police will want to interview him regarding what appears to be a prima facie case of perjury in the Tommy Sheridan case.

For those of unaware of this case, Coulson was asked if the NOTW had ever given money to corrupt police officers. Coulson replied "Not to my knowledge".

Given Sheridan got 3 years for the same offence (perjury), I think we can expect Coulson to get at least the same sentence and frankly I wouldn't be at all surprised if he got 5 years.

There's another two Screws "reporters" that are likewise heading to jail in Scotland and there's probably a case against the chief bitch herself as News International lied in court about losing emails. Emails which its now clear they knew the location of all along.

So if the Met/CPS won't find a spine then I rather suspect Strathclyde Police and the Crown Office will.

Coulson is fucked.

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Facepalm

It's a white wash

Do any of you truly believe that the other red tops weren't doing this as well? Mail, Express, Mirror, Star - I'm sure they were all doing this sort of stuff as well.

I also wouldn't put it past the Sunday Times either - they often have some quite unbelievable scoops. There needs to be a root and branch review, with witnesses under oath and penalty of perjury.

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Anonymous Coward

All in it together

I'm sure they are all up to the same tricks. Perhaps that means they will all get closed down.

Oh woe.

Perhaps we'll have to make do with some investigative reporting and real news in the news papers and the shock horror celeb scandal stuff can be relegated to magazines like OK!, Hello!, Eyup! etc.

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Quite!

The other papers are bound to be finger-waving atm, but, yes, I cannot believe it was solely the NoTW who was undertaking this practice or, rather, employing investigators who used this practice.

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@Tom 38

I believe the daily mail had something like 1300 such investigations to the NotW's 288 or so in an article I read the other day.

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Guardian

And don't forget the Guardian hacked e-mail accounts and printed them.

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Eyup!!!1!!

classic

new kbd pls

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FAIL

So the Smurf Doc doesn't fire the ringleader

Typical of the Cameroon world, and any primary school. Sack the rank and File, let the Peter Principal be in effect to keep the leaders employed.

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FAIL

How?

Is the hacking Cameron's fault? For all his faults, he is not in charge nor plays any part of NI.

Guilt by association is as ridiculous as the lynch mob "ooh he is accused of being a terrorist/paedo - lock him up and throw away the key". Evidence? we don't need no steenking evidence.

You are right about it being wrong to sack the rank and file and keep the leaders but that isn't Cameron either.

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Police investigation

I like the fact that the original cover up, sorry investigation, found there were limited instances Of wrong doing and they'd "got their man". Now after much reporting in the Guardian and other press it turns out it was rampant and dodgey plod, qu'elle surprise, were involved.

Any police involved in this need jailing over it, no fucking around as an example must be set. If there's the slightest whiff that the original investigation was compromised due to arse covering then senior heads need to roll. In my book there is very little that is worse for society than corruption in the corridors of power. Dodgey plod makes my f'cking blood boil due to the shear arrogance of the abuse of power.

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Disgraceful behaviour

Given the nature of some of these offences - hacking the phones of a dead schoolgirl and hampering the investigation (your new cellmates will truly love you) as well as targeting the relatives of dead servicemen - I can only describe the orchestrator of this (someone had to know about so much going on) as an utter c#nt. Given who hasn't lost their job it doesn't take much guessing in my opinion.

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Holmes

Beware

The danger of hamstringing the press is that in the kinds of cases we'e heard of - albeit the NotW clearly overstepped the mark - the basic action is a kind of supervisory action of how the police behave;

without the press' freedom to 'listen in' to a police investigation, in the public interest, there's a danger of a return to the old days when it took years for the truth of the incompetence / laziness/ improper motives/ occasionally corruption/ of the police to surface.

Now obviously it's difficult to reconcile post mortem deletion of Milly Dowler's voicemail messages with supervising the police; however we must be careful how far we go; even illicit ways of checking up on the police may be justified in some cases;

That is to say, possibly it's the nature of the 'gutter press' that revolts us, rather than the actual methods employed, we should remember that when supporting changes

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Not the media's job...

...to supervise the Police, thank Christ.

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Alert

curious as to whether there's a US angle

...or maybe if there should be. The hacking into the soldiers accounts just gives me a hint that they might have tried the same trick with *other* soldiers in Afghanistan ...

I wonder if any *US* soldiers have been involved ?

It's one thing for Murdoch to swat away this scandal if it's the lameass brits. But merkins still remember how lynch mobs *really* work.

Strange Fruit indeed.

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Funny commentaries on Cameron

Yeah, he might get a bit red face for employing an alleged crook for a communications director. But there's nothing to suggest he did anything unlawful while working for the gov, and the idea that this is as big a 'crime' as Blair taking us to war on evidence he knew was nonsense, is complete hogwash. He'll bounce back from this quickly, especially since the surviving tabloids will be suspiciously uncritical of the gov while the collective future of the press hangs in the balance.

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Stop

Cameron's judgement

Surely the major question regarding David Cameron is his lack of judgement?

He was warned by a good many people that the phone hacking scandal was likely to continue to raise questions - and openly said he was "giving Coulson a second chance".

Likewise, while preaching equal chances he could see no problem with taking on the son of a neighbour as an intern.

Worst of all, he supports - or initiates - major changes and then has to bow to public concerns and change direction - or even abandon his plans.

How safe is a prime minister who puts personal loyalty to friends above the public - or even party - interest?

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