Jude Collins

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The hacking scandal - why so surprised?

Rebekah Brooks

Les Hinton

The greatest television theatre– certainly political television theatre – I’ve ever seen was the Watergate scandal.  I was living in Canada at the time and every night, the big American networks used to give an hour or so to the latest skeletons to fall out of the Nixon cupboard. Or maybe that’s the wrong image – maybe it should be a living body rather than a skeleton. For as the evidence mounted, a desperate President Nixon began lopping off his own political  limbs until finally, on 30 April, 1973, he had no choice but to ask for the resignation of his two top aides, H R Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, along with White House Counsel John Dean.  In the end Nixon resembled the Black Knight in the Monty Python sketch: his arms and legs had been cut off but he kept insisting “It’s just a flesh wound!”

The coverage of the  News of the World phone-tapping scandal isn’t quite that level of theatre but it comes near.  First Rupert Murdoch removes the News of the World,  Britain’s best-selling Sunday newspaper.  Then he amputates Rebekah Brooks, on whom he had always doted. And last night word came through that Les Hinton,  his close associate for over fifty years and chairman of News International, was gone.  It seems inconceivable that someone as powerful as Murdoch himself could be unseated, but that’s what they were saying about Richard Nixon until he headed for the helicopter and gave that famous double-V farewell.

What to make of it all? Well, let’s consider  the television coverage of the whole affair: it’s been pathetic. Not in that there hasn’t been ample coverage or that the facts weren’t presented; but they came loaded with such a coating of emotion, they were near-unrecognisable.  Millie Dowler, the little girls from Soham,  9/11 victims: you’d be forgiven for thinking News of the World staff had been responsible for all those deaths, rather than listening in on their conversations. Of course eavesdropping – illegal eavesdropping – is distasteful and sleazy, but as I said in an earlier blog, why the shocked expression? We’re all eavesdropped on and camera-watched within an inch of our lives every day of our lives. Some of it we give the OK to, the rest we know is going on but there’s nothing we can do about it. Every shop, every street, every road has its watching cameras; every email, every text, every phone-call has its supervisor.  It's not Big Brother isn’t watching you: it’s the whole Big family.

Finally, imagine this. Your husband or wife or brother or sister – a main breadwinner – works in some far-flung corner of the Murdoch empire. If Murdoch the emperor is brought down and with him his whole dominion, and your loved one is tossed onto the street without a job: would you still nod with approval as the hunters go halloo-ing after this wrinkled 80-year-old in a baseball cap?


  1. Maybe some people think its ok when the Government spies on you? But it is somehow wrong when a private company does it in order to make a profit. The thing I find most interesting in the whole thing is Murdoch spied on Cabinet Ministers and members of the Royal family where are MI5 and Special Branch in all this?

  2. Rupert Murdoch was awarded a Papal Knighthood for his charity work.Which includes giving 10 Million Dollars to the Catholic Church in California in order to build to a new Cathedral.

  3. Rupert's been skating successfully on thin ice for many, many years. His word meant nothing in a business deal. He was feared by politicians, not admired by them, because they didn't want to get trashed by his papers. He's been getting away with far worse than hacking for years. That woo-woo you hear is the karma train. I'm delighting in the fact that the worm has turned and he's now where he put others in the past. I'm sorry those who work in his enterprises may lose jobs, but I don't feel even a tiny bit sorry for Rupert. And I'm not in the least shocked that his people were doing something like hacking. He knew about it too...

  4. 2010

    May: Rupert Murdoch, general discussion.
    June: Rebekah Brooks, Chequers.
    June: Dominic Mohan, editor of the Sun, general discussion.
    June: News International summer party, social.
    June: James Harding, editor of The Times, interview.
    June: The Times CEO summit, speech.
    July: The Sun Police Bravery Awards, reception and dinner.
    July: Dominic Mohan, general discussion.
    July: Colin Myler, editor of the News of the World, general discussion.
    August: Rebekah Brooks, Chequers.
    September: John Witherow, editor of the Sunday Times, general discussion.
    October: James Harding, Conservative conference.
    October: Rebekah Brooks, Dominic Mohan, Conservative conference.
    October: John Witherow, Conservative conference.
    October: News International reception, Conservative conference.
    November: James Murdoch, Chequers.
    December: The Sun Military Awards, reception and dinner.
    December: Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch, social.
    December: Rebekah Brooks, social.


    March: News of the World Children’s Champions, No 10 reception.
    April: James Harding, general discussion.
    May: Dominic Mohan, general discussion.
    June: James Harding, general discussion.
    June: News International summer party, social.
    June: The Times CEO summit, speech.
    July: The Sun Police Bravery Awards, reception and dinner.

  5. @12.45

    Above is a list of meetings between David Cameron and people who work for News International.

  6. Rebekah Brooks has been arrested.She was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to Section1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977 and on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906.

  7. The Head of the Metropolitan Police Paul Stephenson has just resigned.

  8. Mr Paul Stephenson was a RUC Sub-Divisional commander in the early 1990's.