8 July 2009

Murdoch Group in 'hacking probe'- updated follow up

"We live in a time when political passions run high, channels of free expression are dwindling, and organised lying exists on a scale never before known. For plugging the holes in history the pamphlet is the ideal form." - so wrote George Orwell in 1943.

Murdoch papers paid £1m to gag phone-hacking victims

• News of the World bugging led to £700,000 payout to PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor
• Sun editor Rebekah Wade and Conservative communications chief Andy Coulson – both ex-NoW editors – involved
• News International chairman Les Hinton told MPs reporter jailed for phone-hacking was one-off case



by Nick Davies

Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.

The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures and to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators.

Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them.

The evidence also poses difficult questions for:

• Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts

• Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, have misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public

• The Metropolitan police, who did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel

• The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity.


The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of News of the World reporter Clive Goodman for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had been acting without their knowledge.

However, one senior source at the Metropolitan police told the Guardian that during the Goodman inquiry, officers had found evidence of News Group staff using private investigators who hacked into "thousands" of mobile phones. Another source with direct knowledge of the police findings put the figure at "two or three thousand" mobiles. They suggest that MPs from all three parties and cabinet ministers, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell, were among the targets. News International has always maintained that it has no knowledge of phone hacking by anybody acting on its behalf.

A private investigator who had been working on contract for News Group, Glenn Mulcaire, was also jailed in January 2007. He admitted hacking into the phones of five other targets, including Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association. Among those phones Mulcaire hacked into were the Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, celebrity PR Max Clifford, model Elle MacPherson and football agent Sky Andrew. News Group denied all knowledge of the hacking, but Taylor last year sued them on the basis that they must have known about it.


Simon Hughes comments on the out-of-court settlements

In documents initially submitted to the high court, News Group executives said the company had not been involved in any way in Mulcaire's hacking of Taylor's phone. They specifically denied keeping any recording or notes of intercepted messages and claimed they had not even been aware of the hacking. However, at the request of Taylor's lawyers, the court ordered the production of detailed evidence from Scotland Yard's inquiry in the Goodman case and also from a separate inquiry by the Information Commissioner into journalists who dishonestly obtain confidential personal records.

The Scotland Yard files included paperwork which revealed that, contrary to News Group's initial denial, Mulcaire had provided a recording of the messages on Taylor's phone to a News of the World journalist who had transcribed them and emailed them to a senior reporter; and that a News of the World executive had offered Mulcaire a substantial bonus payment for a story specifically related to the intercepted messages. Several famous figures from the world of football are among those whose messages which were intercepted. Andy Coulson was editing the paper at this time. He told the Guardian this week that he knew nothing about Taylor's legal action, which began after he resigned from the paper.

The paperwork from the Information Commission revealed the names of 31 journalists working for the News of the World and the Sun, together with the precise details of government agencies, banks, phone companies and others who were conned into handing over confidential information on politicians, actors, sportsmen and women, musicians and television presenters, all of whom are named in the paperwork. This is an offence under the Data Protection Act unless it is justified by public interest. Senior editors are among the journalists who are implicated. This activity occurred before the mobile phone hacking, at a time when Andy Coulson was deputy, and the editor was Rebekah Wade, now due to become chief executive of News International. The extent of their personal knowledge, if any, is not clear: the News of the World has always insisted that it would not break the law and would use subterfuge only if essential in the public interest.

Faced with this evidence, News International changed their position, started offering huge cash payments to settle the case out of court, and finally paid out £700,000 in legal costs and damages on the condition that Taylor signed a gagging clause to prevent him speaking about the case. The payment is believed to have included more than £400,000 in damages, dwarfing the largest previous payment for breach of privacy in the UK, the £60,000 paid by the News of the World for filming Max Mosley naked with prostitutes. News Group then persuaded the court to seal the file on Taylor's case to prevent all public access, even though it contained prima facie evidence of criminal activity.

The Scotland Yard paperwork also provided evidence that the News of the World had been involved with Glenn Mulcaire in his hacking the mobile phones of at least two other figures from the world of football. They, too, filed complaints, which were settled earlier this year when News International paid a total of more than £300,000 in damages and costs on condition that they, too, signed gagging clauses.

The Guardian's understanding is that the paperwork disclosed by Scotland Yard to Taylor is only a fraction of the total material they gathered on News Group's involvement with Glenn Mulcaire. And it is a matter of record that the Information Commission has refused to release paperwork which implicates national newspaper journalists in thousands of apparently illegal acts.

The secrecy around the cases continues. Gordon Taylor declined to make any comment. Clive Goodman, now out of prison, said: "I'm not going to talk. My comment is not even 'no comment'." A spokesman for News International suggested the case did not exist: "This particular case means nothing to anyone here, and I've talked to all the people who would be involved." However, the Information Commission confirms that it disclosed material for the case, and the Guardian has pieced together a detailed account of the evidence.

Read as well: The law on phone hacking


Related

Rupert Murdoch's Edutainement News: The McCanns Media Machine
"Rupert Murdoch owns some of the most influential newspapers in the UK as well as the Sky and Fox TV 'news' channels and has backed the biggest and dirtiest propaganda campaign in support of two persons suspected by the police of involvement in the disappearance of their child in Portugal."

More via searching the blog

Follow Up: Police will not reopen Murdoch newspaper phone-hacking inquiry

 
From REUTERS/France 24 - British police said on Thursday they would not reopen investigations into the interception of celebrities' mobile phone voicemails by journalists, despite new allegations against a Rupert Murdoch newspaper.

According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, reporters at Murdoch's bestselling News of the World worked with private investigators to access "two or three thousand" private mobile phones belonging to celebrities, lawmakers and public figures.

Actors Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, Australian model Elle Macpherson and former British deputy prime minister John Prescott were among those targeted by journalists seeking stories for the Sunday newspaper, according to the report.

The story generated a political storm and Prime Minister Gordon Brown said there were "serious questions to be answered". But police said they would not reopen a 2005 investigation that led to the jailing of two men, News of the World reporter Clive Goodman and a private investigator, for hacking into the phones of staff working for the royal family.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates of the Metropolitan Police said the original probe had concluded that phone tapping had occurred in only a minority of cases. All those victims had been informed, he said.

"Their potential targets may have run into hundreds of people, but our inquiries showed that they only used the tactic against a far smaller number of individuals," Yates said.

"No additional evidence has come to light since this case has concluded. I therefore consider that no further investigation is required."

Demands for inquiry

The Guardian had reported that News International, the British newspaper subsidiary of media company News Corp, had already paid 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to settle court cases with three people -- including soccer executive Gordon Taylor -- whose phones were violated.

The Guardian said private investigators working for the News of the World intercepted voicemail messages and gained access to personal data such as itemised phone bills and bank statements.

Ruling Labour Party politicians called for an inquiry into the police's actions, Murdoch's newspapers and the opposition Conservative Party, which hired former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as its communications chief in May 2007.

Conservative leader David Cameron insisted he would not get rid of Coulson who resigned as the paper's editor shortly after Goodman was jailed.

The case has also reignited debate over the ethics of Britain's fiercely competitive tabloids, which thrived for years on a brash mix of sex, scandal and "showbiz exclusives" before seeing sales fall sharply in the face of Internet competition.

The Information Commissioner's Office, a privacy watchdog, said it gave Taylor's lawyers evidence last year of News International reporters buying and selling personal information after the ICO received a court order.

"This included material that showed that 31 journalists working for The News of the World and The Sun had acquired people's personal information through 'blagging'," Assistant Information Commissioner Mick Gorrill said in a statement.

"Blagging" is a form of deception where a person pretends to be someone else in an attempt to obtain information from sources such as banks or telephone companies, the watchdog said.

News International said it had worked to "ensure its journalists fully comply" with relevant legislation since the Goodman case.

"At the same time, we will not shirk from vigorously defending our right and proper role to expose wrongdoing in the public interest," it said in a statement.

The furore is unlikely to die down despite the police's decision. The Crown Prosecution Service said it would urgently review evidence provided by police as part of the 2005 inquiry while a committee of lawmakers is also to re-examine the issue.

8 comments:

  1. 1million is chicken feed to Murdoch...a simple slap on the wrist and it is business as usual.I would like to know the names of the 31 journalists involved though. I would imagine many of them are well known to us.



    IRONSIDE

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/blair-gave-murdoch-veto-over-eu-says-pms-exaide-507354.html


    IRONSIDE

    ReplyDelete
  3. The dumbing down of whole continents and the debasing of a fine vocation such as journalism is what this man lives for.

    Let's all watch Sky news tonight to see endless reruns of Michael Jackson's funeral instead of what is really happening in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A post from the Guardians Greenslade Blog....an angry reporter says....
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    factsstraight
    09 Jul 09, 9:50am (32 minutes ago)
    Now let me get this clear in my head. I spent 13 years on the Sunday Mirror, People and NoW variously and ran number plates and names through the police national computer through contacts in the police on almost a daily basis, as did every other hack.I also regularly got phone, bank and medical records.
    But such activities were never to obtain stories but to help stand stories up. Otherwise papers would be spending fortunes on complete scattergun approaches.
    It's how redtops have worked, in my experience, since the mid 1980s when I did my first Saturday shifts. I've no problem with the way things worked we turned over some real villains and often worked closely with the cops as we could do things (quite legally) that they couldn't. A system that worked well until cops started arresting people before we went to press scuppering weeks of work.
    And there is one notorious paedophile, Roger Gleaves, who is still in prison as a direct result of one on my stories that relied in part on hacking his phone.
    So is phone hacking in a completely different category? Discuss.


    xxxxxxxxxxx

    This reporter achieved more than the PJ were able to do on the Mccanns....



    xxxxxxxx

    I also regularly got phone, bank and medical records.


    xxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bonjour Joana,

    Il n'est pas utile de publier ce post si vous ne le désirez pas, mais je tenais à vous informer.
    Je me permets d'attirer votre attention sur le fait qu'en France, depuis que le blog de M. LEVY est décrédibilisé, beaucoup d'internautes ont changé d'avis et, sur le Post notamment, enfle la rumeur que les Mccann sont des parents irréprochables en rien responsables de ce qui est arrivé à leur fille, et que c'est la police portugaise qui est, sinon l'auteur des enlèvements et des sévices Casa Pia, Joana et Madeleine Mccann, ou du moins la complice qui a couvert ces crimes sous la direction de M. AMARAL.
    Il s'avère que sur l'article que je vous envoie, les bloggueurs concernés vous citent à l'appui de leur thèse.J'y ai été censurée,en tant que Dominique, ce qui m'est bien égal.

    http://www.lepost.fr/article/2009/07/01/1602236_madeleine-mccann-ou-comment-creer-un-buz-sur-un-blog.html

    maddie, Madeleine, McCann, portugal, infos, blogs

    Par pourmadeleine
    le 01/07/2009, vu 1919 fois, 147
    Info non vérifiée par la rédaction du Post.
    L'opinion exprimée n'engage que son auteur.

    Depuis quelques jours des informations fleurissent sur un certain Blog né de la disparition de madeleine mccann
    Ce forum aurait eu son heure de gloire en jetant l’opprobre sur la famille, en attisant la haine à l’encontre des parents de madeleine, des amis, de tout l’entourage…
    Et pour peu que vous ayez une once d’empathie envers cette pauvre famille défaillant sous le poids de la souffrance…. Hop vous étiez éjecté manu militari sans autre forme de procès…

    Je vous enjoins donc à lire le fameux blog de JOANA qui avec courage nous livre les agissements de ce forum, preuves à l’appuie.
    Joana a été pendant longtemps une adepte du forum jusqu’à ce que le doute commence à s’installer. Peu à peu elle accumule les preuves jusqu’à découvrir une immonde supercherie.

    http://joana-morais.blogspot.com/

    Il apparaitrait donc d’après JOANA que beaucoup d’informations données via ce blog étaient arrangées, fabriquées voire inventées de toute pièces

    Pour le reste des informations découvertes par JOANA au fil du temps, je vous laisse découvrir son dernier article et pour ceux qui n’étaient pas au courant, je vous invite à lire le 1er à ce sujet…

    Joana n’est pas la seule à se battre aujourd’hui à ce sujet.
    Sachez que d’autres l’ont rejoint, d’autres personnes qui aussi avaient des doutes et qui au fil du temps on commencé à accumuler moult informations…
    Celui-ci n’en est qu’un exemple, les autres commencent à se propager sur le net http://www.thesargeants.net/dblog/storico.asp?d=20090601

    Alors… véritables infos ou nouvelles intox pour créer encore une fois un buz ?????
    A se demander qui est ce que l’ont peut croire aujourd’hui sur le net.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dominique à 13h24

    "Charogne, hyène, pas une mère, etc...", ce fil tourne au fanatisme
    quand on ose le crime de lèse majesté!
    Bon, la peine de mort est abolie, je ne risque plus ça.

    Natfal, vous perdez la hauteur d'esprit dont vous vous prévalez. Vous me
    faites dire des choses que je n'ai pas dites et je vous demande de le
    reconnaître, au nom de votre objectivité.

    J'ai dit :
    Rien ne prouve qu'elle a été enlevée,
    Rien ne prouve qu'elle n'a pas été enlevée (et non qu'elle est décédée).

    Vous dites que j'accuse les Mccann : Au nom de votre objectivité
    précisez de quoi je les accuse, sinon c'est de la désinformation que
    vous faites. J'ai dit que je me pose des questions et j'ai précisé
    lesquelles. Au nom de quelles valeurs estimez-vous vouloir me censurer?

    Merci de ne plus me censurer, ni effacer ce post, qui sera le dernier.

    J'ai regardé de plus près ce qui concerne ce fil, les posteurs, les bisbilles et autres bannissements de forums des uns et des autres, les menaces formulées sur d'autres blogs, les identités multiples de certains, les retournement de veste, les censures, et les arguments tirés de blogs type Rosiepops, pour qui Amaral est l'instigateur des enlèvements au Portugal, et les parents des saints modèles de parentalité.


    Ceci, sans preuve, est diffamatoire et délirant envers un fonctionnaire de police qui n'a fait, bien ou mal, que son métier, sauf preuve que vous allez m'apporter, et envers tout un pays qui n'avait pas demandé à des parents négligents de gaspiller leurs impôts en recherchant une enfant qu'ils avaient livrée à elle-même avec ses frère et soeur.
    » Répondre à Dominique
    Alerter les modérateurs


    Dominique Censurée à 13h11

    Vous dites que je défends Amaral : Si vous me reprochez de le défendre
    c'est que vous l'accusez de quelque chose. L' honnêteté intellectuelle
    dont vous vous prévalez ne vous permet pas de faire courir des
    sous-entendus, donc formulez vos accusations..

    1/ La PJ :
    a - Vous l'accusez de quoi?
    b - Simples soupçons?
    c - Preuves? Lesquelles?
    d - A-t-elle ou non droit à la présomption d'innocence?

    2/ Amaral, qui a mené quelques mois l'enquête Mccann :
    a - Vous l'accusez de quoi?
    b - Simples soupçons?
    c - Preuves? Lesquelles?
    d - A-t-il ou non droit à la présomption d'innocence?

    3/ Rebelo, qui a mené la plus grande part de l'enquête, jusqu'à son
    enterrement :
    a - Vous l'accusez de quoi?
    b - Simples soupçons?
    c - Preuves? Lesquelles?
    d - A-t-il ou non droit à la présomption d'innocence?
    E - Pourquoi vous, reprenant en bons petits soldats les instructions des
    Mccann, n'en parlez-vous JAMAIS?

    Vous insinuez que je ne saurais être une mère. Cet argument est limite
    insultant. C'est justement parce que, en plus d'une vie professionnelle,
    j'ai très banalement une vie familiale, un fils et une fille, et même
    une toute récente petite fille que ses nouveaux parents surveillent
    comme le lait sur le feu, que je me pose des questions.
    » Répondre à Censurée
    Alerter les modérateurs

    Joana,
    que pensez-vous de la thèse développée par les bloggueurs du Post? Pensez-vous qu'ils aient des preuves de ce qu'ils insinuent, ou que ce serait du simple délire? Ca me fait mal de voir tout un peuple insulté, ainsi qu'un fonctionnaire dans l'exercice de ses fonctions.

    Merci d'une éventuelle mise au point, notamment en ce qui concerne les 20 ans de carrière d'Amaral, si vous l'estimez utile.

    Très cordialement.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Team Murdoch and Tabloid Lies....the close relationship between Sarah Brown and Reb.Wade


    http://the-sun-lies.blogspot.com/2008/07/editor-tim-ireland-beat-page-3.html



    IRONSIDE

    ReplyDelete
  8. Merci bien Dominique pour ton avis.

    Je crois fermement que ces filles sont trompées, elles font une erreur d'appréciation très grave, et, elles, aussi comme Mr. Levy, corrompez la vérité de mon exposé sur Mr. Duarte Levy avec le objective de manipulez l’exactitude et l’objectivité des faits du affaire McCann que je présente sur ceste blog [comme las traductions des somme feuilles du procès du Ministère Publique].

    Effectivement les actions dus McCann couple suivant la disparition de Madeleine, comme la grosse négligence de sons enfants, sont le motive pour continuer le recherche de la vérité et de la Justice.

    Un dernier mot d’avis pour les filles qui lisent le blog de Natfal : la thèse conspirationniste des Ilumminatii, le RFID, etc.., c’est la même présente et défendu pour Marcos Aragão Correia, l’avocat lunatique que j’ai déjà parlez on mon blog.

    Faire attention a las mystifications et mensonges.

    Cordialement,

    Joana

    ReplyDelete