Reading most British newspapers lately you would be hard pressed to find anything about the phone-hacking scandal which is developing. This is because most of them, especially the tabloids, are too caught up in it themselves. They are 'swimming in their own filth', as Henry Porter of The Observer so aptly put it on Sunday. These culprits-in-arms hope that the News of the World will take all the flak and leave them relatively unscathed, meanwhile they potter about pretending not to notice as they fabricate smears and hype up non-stories (like the Ed Balls revelations) as per usual. However, their day is fast approaching.
It is certain now that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed over the first News of the World hacking case in 2006-7, was supplying stolen data to journalists on a number of different papers. But Mulcaire is only one of a big criminal crowd. A trail of corrupt private eyes stretches back over 2 decades, investigators who constantly used what are referred to in the media as the 'dark arts'. One of these others, Jonathon Rees, has just popped up in the news again due to the hacking scandal. As far back as the late 1980s he was paying crooked police officers to provide him with information stolen from police databases. The material was then sold on to journalists at the News of the World, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Times (just to name a few). People who featured in the stories which then emerged wondered for years how their private details had got into the news. Now they are beginning to find out. Jonathon Rees got 7 years for criminal activity. But after his release, Rupert Murdoch's News of the World began using his services again as though nothing illegal had happened. No wonder the paper is having to pay out huge sums in compensation now. Andy Coulson, the then editor of the paper, resigned because of the scandal in 2007, although he claimed to know nothing about any hacking. However, Sean Hoare, a journalist who worked under him, claims that Coulson did know and had even requested transcripts of some of the hacked messages so that he could sanction their use. Andy Coulson, very soon after his resignation, was chosen by David Cameron to be his communications director. One has to wonder at Cameron's judgement here because Coulson, due to his past trailing him like a bad smell, ultimately had to resign from that job too. The former Labour MP Lord Prescott, being a victim of hacking himself, has now called for an inquiry into the criminal activities perpetrated by the British press. But don't expect to see much about this actually in the press, as they won't want to acknowledge it's a real story.