Phone-hacking saga 'changes character'

Milly Dowler (undated) Milly Dowler went missing in March 2002

The alleged hacking of the phone of a missing girl in the days before her body was found has changed the character if not the nature of the phone-hacking saga. It has moved many in Westminster who previously regarded the story as a question of interest only to those excited by media ethics or the privacy of celebrities.

News International executives insist that they were as shocked as anyone else when they learned that Milly Dowler's phone had apparently been hacked. They expect to meet with police this morning to offer assistance with their investigation into the allegation. This story could scarcely have come at a worse time for them or a more awkward time for the government.

The official consultation into whether Rupert Murdoch's News Corp should be permitted to take over BSkyB closes this week. Aides to the culture secretary say that legally his only consideration can be the impact on what's called "media plurality" - in other words the impact on the number of different media voices. The question of whether Mr Murdoch or his company are - in the jargon - "fit and proper persons" to take full ownership of the broadcaster cannot now, they say, be added to the process.

That won't stop critics pointing to the fact that the editor of the News of the World at the time of these allegations, Rebekah Brooks, is now chief executive of News International (News Corporation's main UK subsidiary) and a personal friend of the prime minister.

For a long time the hacking story united those who'd always been hostile to the Murdoch empire with those angered by its switch from backing New Labour to supporting the Tories, and those who saw it as a way to damage David Cameron (who hired the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his spin doctor).

Now Murdoch, Brooks and Cameron will be aware that for the first time the hacking story may be engaging and horrifying readers, viewers and voters.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    187 - "what this particular chap was doing was inappropriate for the setting."

    I can imagine. Might have attracted the working classes. With their flat caps, coal streaked faces, pigeons and whippets it would have been a frightful sight for you. Still, you could have taken a picture then shown Bryhers at your next dinner party. She's frightfully interested in the working classes, you know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    171.M4NCUNIA = typical red flag waving BBC.
    We can see where your political affiliations are. You have learned well from your masters, when in trouble blame the messenger. It isn`t going to work this time given how far beyond the pale this saga has gone. The BBC has a duty to report the facts not protect the current establishment and has a long and proud history of doing so, grow up!

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    @ 165/167

    Not sure why you're struggling with this, Fubar. The NOTW (and other papers too) have incited offences (e.g. bribery and match fixing) via undercover 'impersonate and sting' operations so as to get a scoop report. Create the scandal, then 'expose' it. This is factual and on the record, not some wild allegation from me. Okay? Okay, so maybe one day the same thing with kidnap/murder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    So discussing whether one should subscribe to Sky here is acceptable & relevant but commenting on the possible polictical implications of the blog subject matter gets your comment scratched - do we need more proof that Nick and friends are very much in the Tory/Murdoch pocket?

    Since my comment broke no other listed rule I can only assume it was cowardice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    182 "But Andy (147), the definition of tax evasion versus tax avoidance is nothing like as clear-cut as that of a speed limit on a road, is it?"

    Yes it is. Legal = avoidance; Illegal = evasion.

    Can YOU tell whether a car is doing 31 or 29 just by looking at the car? Doesn't mean it's complicated. Think of the courts as a speed camera.


Comments 5 of 201



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