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July 12, 2011 / hackinginquiry

Hacked Off Campaign calls for strong terms of reference for judge-led inquiry

The “Hacked Off” Campaign – on behalf of the victims of phone hacking – is calling for a truly effective and urgent inquiry into the scandal and its causes

A) The terms of reference of the Judge-led statutory inquiry need to be capable of (and not be limited to) covering…

Getting to the bottom of the News of the World Scandal

1 Establishing exactly what happened at the News of the World after 2000 in relation to illegal or improper information gathering, payments to police officers, the exercise of influence over police, prosecutors and politicians and the subsequent cover up.

All newspapers and all illicit activity

2 Establishing the nature and extent of all illegal information gathering methods (including but not limited to interception of voicemails) by national newspapers over the past decade; including, in particular, the use of private
investigators and the obtaining of information by means of payments to police officers; and practices which are legal only when justified by the public interest, such as unauthorised payments for personal information

The press and the police

3 Establishing the nature and extent of the contacts between national newspapers and law enforcement agencies, in particular, the Metropolitan Police, other police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service over the past decade, and whether those contacts were properly and lawfully conducted in the public interest;

The press and Government and other politicians

4 Establishing the nature and extent of the contacts between national newspapers and politicians in relations to press regulation and information gathering, including meetings, correspondence or agreements between Government and News International/News Corp executives in relation to these issues and on matters of
media policy matters (eg cross-media ownership and media regulation); the extent to which such contacts were proper and transparent and whether undisclosed agreements or understandings existed between ministers and newspapers or proprietors relating to policy matters.

The Press and Parliament

5 Investigating and reporting on the relationship between national newspapers and their proprietors, and parliament, including allegations that MPs have been threatened over their work into media standards; and the nature of extent of the hacking of MPs’ and ministers’ phones; and – if parliamentary approval is given to this specific term of reference – the truthfulness of testimony given to parliamentary committees and the refusal of
media executives to appear before parliamentary committees.

Conduct of Regulators

6 Investigating and reporting on the effectiveness and propriety of the conduct in these matters of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), the Office of the Information Commissioner and the mobile phone companies.

Corporate governance of media corporations

7 Investigating and reporting on the failures, in respect of these matters, of corporate governance in powerful media corporations and any implications of such failures for cross-media ownership and the protection of the public interest in having a diverse media.

B) Process issues

i. The judge-led inquiry should include lay panel members, should start without delay and without waiting for the conclusion of the police investigation or any prosecutions. We believe that the judge can navigate any issues as required to avoid prejudicing the criminal process.

ii. The judge-led inquiry should have the power, after consultation with the law officers, to grant, in appropriate and exceptional cases, immunity from prosecution to witnesses to the inquiry.

iii. The judge-led inquiry should be required to report within a period of one year after the completion of existing police enquiries..

iv. All the material held by the police to be made available to the judge-led inquiry.

v. The judge-led inquiry should be held in public (save and insofar as private hearings may be necessary whilst prosecution are pending), and the evidence put before the inquiry should be made publicly available without delay (subject to proper protections for privacy and the criminal process).

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11 Comments

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  1. Wilma Miller / Jul 12 2011 11:53 pm

    Any chance in asking Gordon Brown why he continued to be such good friends with Rebekah Brooks that his wife held a 40th party for her birthday after he was so shocked about the Sun’s actions. Indeed it seems she was a guest at Chequers.The party was after the incident described by him.
    There seems to be a point to the financial evidence in that the rumour was that Brown bought a flat in London from Robert Maxwell which is now in his wife’s name.

    You can see that I’m just ever so slightly nauseated when he makes an intervention today which is about events quite far back and after which his behaviour was not what you would expect. Not happy with politicians trying to get back on that very dodgy high moral ground

    • Philip Robinson, Professional Engineer / Jul 13 2011 9:32 am

      You are not the only one!

      Its well known Brown had several meetings/dinners with people in the city before becoming Chancellor. What were they all about.

  2. gavin kilty / Jul 13 2011 10:38 am

    Whatever the individual motives of politicians may be, these must be good times for the UK when the tabloid press, who epitomize power without responsibility, is challenged and brought to account for the fear-inducing hold it has over our country.

  3. Howard Fee / Jul 13 2011 12:58 pm

    The Inquiry terms of reference should include the extent to which Honours were awarded by HM The Queen on government advice to politicians, political advisers, newspaper proprietors, journalists, media bosses, political donors, the police, and civil servants.

  4. Not / Jul 13 2011 3:28 pm

    I am amazed that you/we are amazed at these revelations.

    We all know that a substantial section of the honourable gentlemen and women in parliament are not in the least bit honourable and are only in the house with the single aim of feathering their own nests and will take any money or favour to further that aim.

    I also know several police men and find shocking the stories they tell me of fiddles and aggressive acts to the public etc.

    And who’d have thought the Murdoch empire has turned out to be akin to a James Bond movie, where he is ‘Mr Big’? I can’t wait until they find a body, because we all know that someone will have been bumped off simply because they knew too much.

    I firmly believe that the norms of society are not being corrupted, because corruption has already become the norm.

  5. Clare Davies / Jul 13 2011 5:07 pm

    A good day today, but the battle is only just joined. This is not it. We must keep the pressure on – for the enquiries to truly be open, for the police to be called to account and for Murdoch to answer at the highest level for what appear to be criminal activities carried out by individuals paid by News International.

  6. Paul / Jul 13 2011 9:40 pm

    Why don’t the British and American victims of Rupert Murdoch’s phone-hacking depredations band together to file a trans-Atlantic multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit for breach of privacy and bankrupt his NewsCorp out of existence?

    • lee / Jul 14 2011 12:07 pm

      Paul, agreed but consider Australia where Murdoch or a family company of his owns nearly all our free to air TV, the vast majority of our pay TV, our Newspapers … the list goes on. He has the media saying only what he wants them to say about this scandal currently and as per usual the politicians are still eating out of his hand.

      We have one Green Senator expressing his concerns about the now known ethics of this Murdoch empire but of course the TV does not play it and the news will not print it.

  7. Neil / Jul 13 2011 11:11 pm

    If my recent history of Doctor Who is a guide, I’m sure that Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are controlled by Daleks. They’ve certainly shown a nasty type of evil in not only perpetuating and nurturing illegal practices to gather information, they also then deny, impede justice and basically have no regard for anyone but their own financial gain. I hope that News International are bankrupted by lawsuits and advertisers abandoning them. I certainly will never read their trash.

  8. Nicholas Roberts / Jul 16 2011 6:47 am

    I am a former News Ltd (Australia) employee and worked in digital print and web content management and I’d like to remind people that the UK newspapers are one small set of a single, global newspaper production system which has included the New York Post for many years and now the WSJ.

    140+ newspapers share a single production system where all news is shared.

    So a crime in one newspaper in the production system, could be a crime for all.

    The cancer metaphor is important because, like any multinational corporation, it has an integrated production system. In the case of the newspapers at News Corp, roughly 150 newspapers share a single platform. There is very deep intermingling between newspapers brands, within locations such as Wapping, the news factory for News of The World (and The Sun, The Times etc) and between geographic locations.

    Economies of scale in newspaper production drove the consolidation of newspaper production on a single platform, and the need to syndicate finished stories and rapidly share leads and editorial processes within the corporation and against competitors means there is a very big chance that the NoTW toxic tabloid journalism contagion will spread. The criminal content did not remain isolated in Wapping, instead it would of been spread throughout the 150 newspaper network.

    Cross media would also have ensured the textual content would of been spread into other formats like TV. In Australia FoxTel and Sky, in UK BSkyB, the US Fox.

    News International’s newspapers are a small set of a single, unified, global, newspaper production system. Its integrated principally by the digital pagination and advertising system, which operates on the same software as airlines or banks. Its a real-time market for matching ads to editorial and selling content. There are 140 newspapers around the world ALL sharing the same production system. The printing presses are also part of the system, and KRM has made massive investments in these news factories over the years.

    Staff are moved around the empire all the time. Journalists and editors loyal to Murdoch, and prepared to do the dirty work are rewarded and the industrial fuedalism of personal loyalty is very strong.

    In this global news factory network, the cheapest form of content is sleaze, then sport. Next is gossip. Then opinion. In the UK its ok to do all of this, there is a market. In the US, the Republican moral majority does not allow titties on television, but Fox News is built on gossip. Research is expensive and often reveals unwelcome truths for the proprietor or his advertisers. Sleaze, sport, gossip and opinion are cheap and can be used to attack enemies.

    Fox News is tabloid journalism for the TV age. I hate to think what is being done at MySpace.

    It will be hard to contain the criminal liability just to the UK papers when the business and editorial systems are global. 140 newspapers which now includes the WSJ

    Just like the financial systems spread contagion in realtime, so too the toxic journalism and criminal content is automatically syndicated worldwide

  9. Dee Speers / Jul 17 2011 10:06 am

    Terms of Reference will need a close eye kept on them as devil often hidden in the detail!
    So many parallels on all system failures….self serving management and regulators, passive cosy relationships……bringing more and more public systems into the mire! Its not lack of investigative journos…its often flawed Editorial decisions not to take on the systems. I have a feeling many now think resolution is based on every person having their price…..but some integrity still evident but the men and woman in the mirror can only answer this!

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