Their willingness to ruin lives was directly linked to their political power. MPs feared that they might find their own private behaviour being monstered on News International’s front pages. This is the power of the playground bully: he has only to beat up one or two children for all of them to start trying to placate him. Beyond that, government collectively feared having its agenda destroyed, its daily activity destabilised, its future terminated if Murdoch’s editors turned against it. Former ministers and senior Whitehall officials all tell the same tale – that as Murdoch increased the size of his empire, governments became obsessed with newspaper coverage, particularly that of the Sun.
The power which Coulson and Brooks enjoyed delivered the kind of access for which unscrupulous lobbyists will pay large bundles of cash. A tabloid editors she was courted by ministers. At the Leveson inquiry, Brooks disclosed 185 meetings with prime ministers, ministers and party leaders while apologising that her records were incomplete. At the News of the World, Coulson showed little enthusiasm for politics, according to former Downing Street officials, one of whom remembers him being invited for breakfast with Gordon Brown and showing so little interest in policy that the two men ended up talking about newspaper circulations. Brooks, however, was a different story.
Far more than Coulson, she played the game of power, exploiting her extraordinary social skills to build an unrivalled network of connections.
Backed by fear of what her journalists could do, Brooks used her access to get her way. She could do it over small things: “If she was going to the US and she realised she had no visa, all she had to do was to make a phone call to a minister, and they’d sort it out for her,” according to one former official. She used it to get stories. An adviser from the Ministry of Defence recalls the government being under pressure about British soldiers being killed and maimed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan: “We were told we couldn’t release all we were doing for opsec reasons, yet the MoD went ahead and gave the information to the Sun.”
More than that, she used her influence to try to change government policy, not simply and legitimately by publishing stories but privately with ministers by cajoling, insisting, playing on their fear. This might be aimed at scoring a victory for her newspapers – persuading the government to order a police review of the Madeleine McCann case as part of her strategy to encourage the toddler’s parents to let her newspapers serialise their book; pushing hard to end the career of Sharon Shoesmith, head of children’s services in Haringey, whom the Sun blamed for the death of Baby P. Shoesmith was sacked, a decision which was later described by the court of appeal as “intrinsically unlawful.” Or Brooks aimed at larger policy which suited the ideology of the Sun and of its owner – over crime, immigration, public spending and notoriously over Britain’s membership of the European Union and its potential involvement in the euro. (...)»
in The Guardian, 'Phone-hacking trial was officially about crime; but in reality, it was about power' by Nick Davies 25th June, 2014
Panorama Hacking: Power, Corruption and Lies broadcast by BBC on 25 June 2014
In a Panorama Special, Robert Peston investigates the questions behind the phone hacking trial which saw David Cameron's former spokesman, Andy Coulson, convicted and three other News of the World News editors plead guilty.
Did politicians of all parties and police help to cover-up the hacking scandal for years because of their own close relationships with Rupert Murdoch's News International?
Rupert Murdoch's Infotainment News: The McCanns Media Machine This blog, JM, 2008-04-23
Murdoch's News Corporation: 'A House of cards, Built on deceit' This blog, JM, 2009-12-29
McCanns' spokesman to join Freud Communications PR Week/on this blog 2008-09-01
The Conservative Party to recruit McCann spokesperson as head of media monitoring PR Week, by Danny Rogers, 2010-03-04
Leveson slams politicians and Press for ‘too close a relationship’ Exaro News, by David Hencke, 2012-11-30
News International ‘lobbied David Cameron over police review’ Exaro News, by David Hencke, Frederika Whitehead and Hui Shan Khoo, 2012-11-28
‘Maddie’ police review ‘was example of political interference’ Exaro News, by David Hencke, Frederika Whitehead and Hui Shan Khoo, 2012-11-26
Rebekah Brooks set out to ‘persuade’ government over review Exaro News, by Hui Shan Khoo, 2012-11-26
David Cameron ‘could not recall pressure’ over ‘Maddie’ case Exaro News, by Hui Shan Khoo, 2012-11-26
Theresa May changed her mind about ‘Maddie’ police review Exaro News, by David Henck and Hui Shan Khoo, 2012-11-29
Commentary: why PM will have Leveson hangover in New Year Exaro News, by Nicholas Jones, 2013-01-10
Rebekah Brooks accused of bullying Government over McCanns London Evening Standard/on this blog 2012-05-11
Enid O'Dowd analyses the accounts of Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned Limited for the year ended 31 March 2013 McCann Files, by Enid O'Dowd, 2014-01-14