11.29.11

Britain’s Phone-Hacking Hearings Heat Up (Video)

Britain’s inquiry into the Murdoch media scandal uncovered sordid new allegations today, and a prominent journalist testified that the press shouldn’t be able to regulate itself. See the latest updates and video.

Murdoch's Tormentor Gives Evidence

Nick Davies is no friend to the Murdoch family. It was snooping by The Guardian’s investigative journalist that first uncovered the scale of the phone-hacking scandal at the family’s News of the World tabloid in Britain and put James Murdoch, boss of the part of the company that oversees its British newspapers, in front of a parliamentary inquiry to defend himself.

Today it was Davies’s turn to give evidence. And the Murdochs won’t have liked his depiction of their operation. Speaking at the Leveson inquiry into journalistic ethics set up by the government in the aftermath of the hacking revelations, Davies told of “a culture of bullying” in some Fleet Street news organizations.

He told how he had managed to speak to a “loose assembly” of between 15 and 20 former News of the World journalists about hacking but only on condition of strict anonymity, and that his sources had been afraid of more than just losing their jobs. “The fear is real,” he said.

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Video: Nick Davies Calls to End Self-Regulation of the Press

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Morgan Smeared in Hacking Probe

The tactics of the now-defunct newspaper News of the World came to light as the former deputy features editor testified Tuesday that they not only hacked into phones, but also stole photographs, paid sources and even went through the trash bins of subjects. Paul McMullan testified that his former boss, Piers Morgan, once said “well done” after reporters stole a photograph off the mantle of the woman who reportedly took former prime minister’s John Major’s virginity. Morgan also reportedly said, “I don’t care what it costs; I just want to get the defining stories of the week.” McMullan said the paper had become “too dependent” on private investigators, who had resorted to illegal tactics to get information for them, and said he thinks “phone hacking is a perfectly acceptable tool if we were doing it to get to the truth.”

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Report: Hackers Hit Cabinet Minister

Britain’s inquiry into tabloid phone hacking took a new turn on Tuesday, as reports were published that suggest the Murdoch media empire hired detectives to hack into the computer of a cabinet minister overseeing national security. Scotland Yard has declined to comment, but the report published in The Guardian alleges that the computer of Peter Hain, a cabinet member working on Northern Ireland, was infiltrated by detectives working for News International.

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The Guardian's Nick Davies: They Hacked Murdered Girl's Phone

Journalists Nick Davies of The Guardian—who helped break the explosive story—testified before the British Parliament Tuesday. Davies alleged that reporters for News of the World hacked into the phone of Milly Dowler, a teenage girl who was abducted and murdered in England in 2002. Davies also named Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was initially thought to be a rogue hacker for News International, as a “brilliant blagger” but a mere “facilitator” in a much wider scandal, in which Mulcaire would pass on information to a team of journalists. Davis said he no longer supports the right of the press to regulate itself.

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Daily Star Reporter: Paper Threatened Me

Former Daily Star reporter Richard Peppiatt told an investigative panel Tuesday that he was repeatedly threatened and his phone was possibly hacked after he quit the paper (which is not owned by a Murdoch company) over what he called its anti-Muslim propaganda. He asked his girlfriend to move out of his apartment for several days when he started receiving phone calls throughout the night saying he was "a marked man until the day you die" and that the paper was "doing a kiss-and-tell" on him. Peppiatt also said he was emailed the details of a voicemail a friend had left on his phone after he had deleted the message. In his witness statement, Peppiatt took aim at the paper's integrity, alleging that it allowed its coverage to be "dictated more from the accounts and advertising departments than the newsroom floor."

Video: Richard Peppiatt Describes How He Came to Suspect His Phone Was Hacked

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James Murdoch Survives BSkyB Vote

Rupert Murdoch’s son and heir apparent, James, was re-appointed on Tuesday to the board of British broadcaster BSkyB—but investors holding nearly a quarter of the shares refused to back him, a devastating blow to his future at the company.

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Is This the End of Tawdry Tabloids?
By Brian Cathcart

Britain’s world-famous tabloid press, so used to dishing out punishment to erring celebrities, politicians, and sports personalities, is getting a taste of its own medicine at the moment, for the first time anyone can remember.

Thanks to the phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s press empire, victims of harassment and intrusion have been given a public platform to recount their miserable experiences, and they are using it.

Whether it be rich and famous victims such as J. K. Rowling and Hugh Grant or tragic families who attracted press attention because of some accidental brush with fame, the stories they are telling at the public inquiry into press standards have been on television night and day. The message going out to the British public is that the gossip and tittle-tattle they are used to reading every morning often comes at an appalling price.

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