Will London Mayor Eat His Words Over Phone Hacking Claims?
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.
Today is the day that the sound of chickens coming noisily home to roost was heard all over the United Kingdom. It began with a BBC radio interview of the father of a child who had been killed in the terrorist bomb outrage in London in July 2005. In a dignified manner he revealed that he would like to meet Rupert Murdoch to ask him why the News of the World may have hacked into the cell phone of his child. Elsewhere, it was revealed that a number of high profile abducted or murdered children also had their phones hacked into by a private investigator employed by the News of the World. On occasions some of the voice mail messages were deleted in order to make way for new messages - and new stories!
Senior Labour politicians, including John Prescott a former Deputy Prime Minister have long claimed that the News of the World was engaged in phone hacking. Subsequently it became clear that the same newspaper had been engaged in hacking the phones of celebrities.
Scroll back a year, and here is the Conservative Mayor of London, the bon vivant, rent a quote mayor of floppy haired fame who does like to try, so awfully hard to be a man of the people:
“Codswallop” was the word London Mayor Boris Johnson used to describe allegations about phone-hacking at the News of the World back in June last year.
According to Johnson, who spoke at the monthly meeting at the London Assembly, the new set of allegations are nothing more than a smear campaign by the Labour Party.
The Times reported that Johnson denounced the concerns over phone hacking by journalists as “a Labour witch-hunt”.
The mayor said he was satisfied with the Met Police investigation into the matter.
According to the Times, Johnson, when asked about his conversations with police over the issue, said: “To the best of memory, I was satisfied with the police position, which was that no new information had been substantively revealed and therefore nothing more was going to be done. So I don’t think I actually had any conversations.”
He later said: “Labour politicians have had five years to discover their principles about this and get outraged about what may or may not have happened.”
Earlier that same week Ben Wallace, Tory MP for Lancaster, also attacked Labour over the phone-hack allegations. The Times reported Wallace as saying: “Disappointingly Labour has chosen to reignite unproven allegations for party political reasons. They are not interested in addressing the big issues of the day, they are only interested in mud-slinging.”
I imagine that both the London Mayor and Lancaster's Conservative MP will be wanting to eat their words now.
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