News Corp Above the Law?
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
A Guardian newspaper investigation in Britain has revealed that one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, the mass selling tabloid, ‘News of the World’, hired a private investigator to hack into the cell phone of a teenager who had gone missing and was subsequently found murdered. This sort of activity was standard practice in the paper’s newsroom, and as a result friends and relatives of the murdered schoolgirl came to believe – wrongly – that the girl, Milly Dowler, was still alive.
To add further insult to injury, the News of the World conducted an interview with Milly Dowler’s parents in which they talked of their hope that their daughter could still be alive. The then Editor of the News of the World – now Murdoch’s UK Chief Executive, Rebekah Brooks, has denied that she knew anything about the hacking into Milly Dowler’s cell phone, despite the fact that her newspaper published voice mail message from her phone from after the time she disappeared. In fact as her friends and family were calling, desperate to get Milly Dowler to get in touch with them, the News of the World was listening to every message. Worse still, the investigator that the newspaper had hired, Glenn Mulcaire managed to delete voicemails on the phone in order to make way for new ones to listen to and report. There can be no doubt that the News of the World seriously infringed the police investigation into the disappearance and murder of this young schoolgirl.
The story is shocking. Murdoch’s stable of newspapers is already reeling from a string of allegations concerning celebrity and politicians phones that were hacked. Now the British public can see that Murdoch’s papers also targeted ordinary people and already claims are being made that other victims who had disappeared or been murdered had their phones hacked into.
At the time, Rebekkah Brooks, was engaged in campaign to ‘name and shame’ alleged paedophiles, publishing their addresses in her rag. One of the earlier targets, as a result of Brook’s attempts to mobilise a mob was a paediatrician from Port Talbot in South Wales. This particularly nauseating campaign resulted in Brooks distributing huge numbers of badges and stickers demanding something called “Sarah’s Law”, after another murdered school girl, Sarah Payne.
I saw Brooks walking down the Brighton seafront sporting one of these badges during a Labour Party Conference – at the time she and Murdoch had Tony Blair and most of the Labour Cabinet in their proverbial pocket. I told her that her campaign was “disgusting” and that she should be “ashamed”. I doubted that she was so published a picture of her – with her personal address – as a front cover for Tribune.
The truth – as a veteran British journalist, Geoffrey Goodman has pointed out, is that Murdoch and his media empire have seen themselves above the law for decades – able to act with impunity, burgling and bugging their way across Continents. As Goodman points out, the United States, UK and Australia, have, with successive governments, utterly caved into this monster and his demands.
But now the truth is revealed. There is nowhere for Murdoch and minions to hide. They have been found out. So who will administer the final blows to a media machine that believes it is above any law, of any land?
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