PAYING THE PRICE: NEWS OF THE WORLD TO CLOSE
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.
It was so ordained that James, rather than Rupert Murdoch, announced the closure of the News of the World, the 168 year old tabloid, after the presses roll this Sunday. He did so from New York, the city to which Rupert spirited him earlier this year, possibly already aware that leaving him in London would open him to the flack now being directed at his successor, Rebekah Brooks.
This is a truly momentous decision, and one that rather conveniently shifts attention from whatever role James Murdoch may have had in agreeing payments to those by his own admittance he should not have been making them to. It also will bring to an end the jobs of very many on the newspaper that never had anything to do with the phone hacking scandal that has brought this hardy perennial to an early demise. I bet the current editor, Colin Myler, will have something to say about the arbitrary nature of the decision, that is unless he hasn’t already been covered in Murdoch gold in order to keep quiet.
The decision to shut the newspaper down for good will also shift attention away from the Chief Executive of Murdoch’s operations, and the woman who was editor at the time when the phone hacking was at its height, Rebekah Brooks. Hopefully the police and the Crown Prosecution Service will continue with their investigations.
Meanwhile, Rebekah Brooks’ predecessor as Editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson has been left the most exposed by the ongoing scandal. He admitted to Parliament back in 2003 that the News of the World had “paid” policemen – although within the law. Now that the Metropolitan Police are investigating their own ranks after claims that corrupt policemen were taking bribes from News of the World journalists, there is every possibility that Mr Coulson may be called in for questioning.
Thankfully for the British, we have been saved from the closest this country has ever come to a corporate mafia operation.
But now that the News of the World has been forced to bite the dust, what of some of the other newspapers who were also engaged in the illegal hacking of phones, and possible illegal payments to bent coppers?
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