Thursday, July 09, 2009

Andy Coulson, illegal bugging and why he should go

See Jonathan King's view in comments

The Guardian leads with a tremendous story today on how the News of the World hired private investigators to hack illegally into the mobile phone messages of many public figures, such as politicians and actors. The paper claims Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers has paid over £1m to settle legal cases that might have revealed his journalists' repeated use of criminal methods to get stories. Click here to read.

Former Screws' editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Wade presided over these hacks - Coulson, as usual in these matters, denies any knowledge. However former deputy PM John Precott is calling on Cameron to sack him as the Tories' chief spin doctor. Meanwhile, why didn't the Metropolitan Police or the Crown Prosecution Service pursue this matter?

Coulson (a useful bio) is an old friend of Madame Arcati. I recently attempted to get up a petition on the No 10 website to draw attention to his involvement in the bullying of a Screws journalist while editor (see labels). The site appeared to ignore my application. Then following a number of my complaints on this site and on Twitter, an email was sent to me from the No 10 site claiming I had failed to respond within a given period to its request that I make changes to the petition because it was "party political": therefore the petition must be blocked. I had not received the first letter.

I don't see what is party political about drawing attention to the fact of bullying (as established at an employment tribunal). Why would the Tories want to employ a recognised bully? Are there laws against workplace bullying or are we meant to giggle and ignore them as an act of bravado? That was the point of my petition.

One moronic hack tweeted me that bullying is endemic to journalism and politics, so what was my problem? Frankly, a hack of this sort shouldn't be in journalism. He should just fuck off into PR and have done with it. And take his bully-friendly pals with him.

Former Sunday Times ed Andrew Neil calls the bugging story "one of the most significant media stories of modern times" and describes the Screws newsroom as "out of control". Coulson cannot hide behind his claim of obliviousness: he must go now. Is it not the job of a media boss to know what's going on under his nose as well as behind his back? I wonder if he ever knew he was editing the News of the World.


Jonathan King said...

Coulson will be gone - quite rightly - by the weekend. Wade will follow him; both Murdoch and Cameron are shrewd enough to dump them (though I suspect the word RESIGN will dominate). But this may bring down both Cameron (judgment?) and Murdoch too. Anyone else chortling to see Clifford preaching Morality in the meejah?

Madame Arcati said...

I just hope you're right. The Murdoch stables need a complete clearout followed by a humane sterilisation of the remaining. Certainly if Coulson doesn't go it will be a sign of yet another establishment cover-up - government, police and media in league.

I think it wonderful that the Guardian has gone bold with this story. Normally the omerta code protects the press and its overpaid and bullying bosses. Not this time. But we shall see what follows.

Green Goddess said...

can they ditch that bitch Susannah Herbert too while they are having a good old clean up? Cathy Galvin can stay though...Nicholas Hellen. Undecided.

Madame Arcati said...

Do you think Hellen is not as appalling as some say? He does have a difficult job after all.

Anonymous said...

King is wrong. Nothing will happen.

A Commons committee will clear everyone of wrong-doing, the London major will say his faith in the Metropolitan Plods remains unshaken, Murdoch will just carry on, buying up Twitter probably, Coulson will be there waving at the crowds with Cameron come the Tories' election victory next May.

Cameron is already defending Coulson - he believes in giving people second chances, apparently. But not to old Tories tripped up by the expenses scandal.

Incidentally, I know for a fact the Sunday Times has also used PIs to hack into mobile messages - for a time it was a regular practice.

veritas said...

I'm furious.I've never been bugged or hacked and I've always wanted to join a class action.

If only I was important enough. I did sue the NoTW once and got enough damages to buy a new Mini but even then it was only because I was mistaken for a villain by a sloppy reptile.

I think Anon is wrong-it's the beginning of the end for a newspaper empire. It always had to happen.

Anonymous said...

Nick Davies story is as big as the MPs' expenses scandal. Parliament is being forced to sort itself out. Now's the time for the newspapers to clean up. There should be mass sackings and the removal of those media bosses who turn a blind eye to corruption or who make demands that can only be met by corruption. The Guardian story reveals the danger papers pose to democracy and civil liberties.

Jonathan King said...

"We've lost Coulson but for God's sake make sure we don't lose Wade; leak her name to someone (NOT The Guardian) as one of the hack victims; then everyone will assume she CAN'T have been involved in the hacking"... an imaginary conversation hacked from Murdoch's phone.