Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Great Press Scandal (or not) as you may think

The Great Press Scandal (or not) as you may think…….

The Great Press Scandal of 2011, or not, as you may think. This story starts somewhere in April 2011 and carries on kicking and screaming, until the prorogation of the Parliaments in July 2011. It has its seeds in the imprisonment of two gentlemen from the News of the World in 2008, or thereabouts, after having been convicted of phone hacking. Following an investigation headed by John Yates, AC Counter Terrorism at the yard, there was, he stated, no further need to investigate these matters. Everybody thought that was the end of the scenario but the Guardian newspaper kept on delving into the matter and eventually unearthed the factoid that many thousands had had their voicemails intercepted, including Milly Dowler, a schoolgirl from Surrey, who had been abducted and tragically murdered. To make the story that bit more complex, the editor of the newspaper News of the World had secured a position at 10 Downing Street after having retired from that newspaper and an AC from New Scotland Yard had gone on to be a journalist with this, or a similar newspaper. As more and more revelations came out, there was a worry that the Prime Minister David Cameron had made a mistake in not checking out Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, before employing him at 10 Downing Street.

More and more revelations came out; the senior police officers involved in the scenario were invited to attend a Select Committee for Home Affairs – Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police appeared before that committee. He resigned his position in July 2011. John Yates, AC Counter Terrorism also appeared before that committee. He also resigned. Various people also resigned from News International, the conglomerate who produced the news of the world. One gentleman resigned from the Wall Street Journal after 52 years service. Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International in London, also resigned. Rupert Murdoch flew into London and closed the News of the World after 168 years.

After a series of smoke and fires within the precincts of Parliament, including hours of televised select committees, we are now no nearer into knowing, who, how, what reasons for, when, or how many? These are all forensic things that need to be known before one can make any judgment on what really happened. The Police (MPS) are further investigating the matter. They now have 50 officers on the case, although only 136 of the victims hacked have been notified and there are many thousands of victims yet to be spoken to by police. For all the sound and fury of this matter, there has been precious little progress made and it is quite significantly worrying that this is supposed to be one of the biggest scandals in British life since 1936, yet so little has been done, apart from a parade of MPs lining up to do a circus act within the chamber or the Select Committees. Oh and amusingly enough, Rupert Murdoch was assaulted with a custard pie made of shaving foam whilst speaking in the committee rooms. He stated that his appearance was the most humbling day of his life.

Nonetheless, what progress? None that I can discern; no forensic questioning on the part of anybody. No real attempt to establish a global version of the scenario with facts – who did what, what happened, when did it happened, where did it happen, who were the principals involved. All this is meat and drink to a police investigation, yet everybody else decided to turn Sherlock Holmes to try and investigate the matter, without any legal qualifications, or forensic training in police interview and investigation techniques. It makes me so sad that we as a country could have been so silly as not to know that this was all bread and circuses. Someone has said that all of these “investigations” such as the speeches in Parliament and the select committees have been a put up job so that the establishment could jump out of the way of the boulder which was coming towards them. Is there more than a grain of truth in what this person has said. Only you can decide.

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