News International and Phone Hacking

It’s been 10 years, 1 month and nine days since the News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s phone.

Five days ago Rupert Murdoch admitted there was a cover up at News Corporation.

We found that News Corporation carried out an extensive cover-up of its rampant lawbreaking. It’s most senior executives repeatedly misled Parliament and the two men at the top, Rupert and James Murdoch – who were in charge of the company – must now answer for that.

In the view of the majority of committee members Rupert Murdoch is not fit to run and international company like BSkyB.

I’m disappointed that some members didn’t feel sufficiently convinced or confident to hold the most powerful to account. (They felt they couldn’t support sections 216-229 of the report)

Many hacking victims have still not been informed of what was done to them. And Rupert Murdoch has not said his last apology to the families of murdered children.

Let us also remember that this scandal cost many hundreds of hard working, innocent journalists their jobs. They’ve found it hard to find work. I know this because I’ve provided references for a number of them.

Parliament was misled, that we now know.

But there were four issues we couldn’t get to the bottom of because of time constraints, decisions of the committee not to proceed or because they fall outside our remit.

Former member of the Scottish Parliament Tommy Sheridan lost his liberty on a majority verdict of a jury which was not in full possession of the facts. He received a three year prison sentence. I believe the judgement is unsound.

If Rupert Murdoch really is sorry, he will order an urgent review of the information his company provided to the jury in the Sheridan case.

Now that we know that the former first minister in Scotland was also a target of hacking, I’m writing to Alex Salmond to recommend he sets up an inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into how and why MSPs were targeted.

Secondly, we asked the Murdochs about computer hacking but we didn’t get very far. I’m not certain but I have reason to believe that the Serious Organsied Crime Agency is in possession of seized hard drives that may show a list of victims who were the targets of computer hackers.

There may well be a Mulcaire 2 out there – where the authorities think it is right not to inform people who have had their privacy invaded by private investigators who have links with national newspapers.

I’m writing to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee today, to raise my concerns and to ask that his committee do what it can to establish the facts.

Thirdly, we were not able to establish the extent to which committee members were the targets of private investigators or journalists trying to collect information in order to either smear or influence.

Last week former Chief Reporter of the News of the World, Neville Thurlbeck said “it was News International, not the News of the World, which ordered us to dig into the private lives of the MPs on the committee” which was investigating us.

He went on to say that “many News International executives were in the loop” The committee did not have the time to act on these new allegations but I think they are so serious they warrant an inquiry by the Committee of Standards and Privileges for a potential contempt of Parliament.

Fourthly, though we have not had time to discuss it in committee, it is my personal view that we should embark on an investigation into the relationship between ministers, special advisers and lobbyists working for News International and BSkyB.

I repeat my call that the PM should allow the Leveson inquiry to view the private emails and texts of Treasury advisers and Mr Fredric Michel of News International and Mr Graham McWilliam of BSkyB.

The truth is that, whatever we have said in our report, and however you choose to report it tomorrow, the public have made up their minds.

Powerful people were involved in a cover up and they still haven’t accepted responsibility.

And after all of this, the story is not yet over.

It was reported at the weekend that Rebekah Brooks was prepared to release her personal texts and emails to the Leveson inquiry. I think she should. But, as David Cameron said yesterday, the contacts between Rupert Murdoch and senior ministers crossed both sides of the House.

If we really want to see how News Corp in the UK operates, then the current PM and Chancellor, all former Prime Ministers – including Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and former Chancellors might want to consider revealing their texts and emails to company executives.

These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied and cheated, blackmailed and bullied. We should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for so long.

But to really stop requires more than tokenistic retribution. It needs conclusive attribution. The very cornerstone of justice is that those really responsible are held to account – that the rich and the powerful are as low in the face of the law as the most humble and weak.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “that the ladder of law has no top and no bottom”.

And everybody in the world knows who is responsible for the wrongdoing of News Corp: Rupert Murdoch. More than any individual alive, he is to blame. Morally, the deeds are his. He paid the piper and he called the tune.

It is his company, his culture, his people, his business, his failures, his lies, his crimes. The price for his profits and his power.

39 thoughts on “News International and Phone Hacking”

  1. Someone’s got it in for me, they’ve been planting stories in the press – Tom Watson, 2012. A modern day Dylan.

  2. Keep going Tom. You and Farrelly are the shining lights on the darkness that needs to go.

    I’m yet to reveal all… so it’s not over yet.

    I have already decided to sacrifice myself and my dreams to get them. If you really knew what I have had to contend with since 2003……only if you really knew.

  3. Just about sums it up, love the bit
    ‘These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied and cheated, blackmailed and bullied. We should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for so long.’

  4. Well said Tom. The world thanks you for your efforts in exposing this criminal organisation.
    I only wish I lived in your constituency so I could vote for you.

  5. This ageing hippy fiery radical watched your statement at the press conference with astonishment and gratitude. Thank you for having the courage to call it the way you see it. It makes me hope – despite all the evidence to the contrary – that there may still be room to build an ethical politics in this country. God knows we need it.

  6. I appreciate your courage in standing up for democracy against the corrupting influences of fear, money, and power. I’m also astonished at the reports I read of people asking, “what now?”. Has it been so long that many forget what its like to live in a society in which the press, the political system, and the police system are not in thrall to a media mafia?

  7. There are so many things I do not agree with every time I read the papers, watch the news. It was refreshing to hear you say this, thank you. You made my day!

  8. In Australia the Murdochs have a far greater stranglehold on media than UK or US. The worry is that the Murdochs have lived too long in power to ever change their ways, so the future can only mean greater operational secrecy from that organization. Only last week on twitter Rupert Murdoch openly expressed his desire for a change of government in Australia. Watch Australia folks…it is the next Murdoch controlled democracy.

  9. If only this was the end of an era and it could be put to bed; sadly soon it will be shadowed in comparison to events that unfold in the public interest and those we affected

    Phone hacking was the tip of the iceberg.

    (fake email given but my real email is known to those who need)

  10. Thank goodness for Tom Watson. I’ve just been watching Louise Mensch on BBC News at about 1.45pm and I am sure I heard her describe and actually defend Murdoch as a ‘magnificent news man’ or some such. I cant be sure, as I was so staggered to hear it that I thought I might have had some sort of medical episode. The warmth with which she spoke of Murdoch went WAY beyond stating the committee had no concrete evidence. Given the fact that she is making so much of no tories voting for this inclusion, can we infer this is the official tory view? Are the Murdochs in fact poor unwitting victims in all of this? Or are we still a tiny bit scared about Rebekah publishing her texts and or the cash for access that seems to have been readily forgotten in the muddle of daily scandals. lets get on with this and have it all out.

  11. I’ve just finished Dial M for Murdoch. Given the evidence there and that offered to the select committee, I fail to understand how the Tories on the committee could dissent from the majority on the matter of Murdoch. I’m tempted to ask myself what they hope to gain, but I sha’n’t.
    Mind you, there’s lots of fun on Twitter about it.

  12. I’m just a member of the public, and you get it absolutely right when you say I have made my mind up as “Powerful people were involved in a cover up and they still haven’t accepted responsibility.”

    In fact the big problem is that its an AWFUL LOT of VERY powerful people, and they have got away with it for so long that accepting responsibility is a completely alien concept to them.

  13. Keep up the good work. [edited] there must surely be a wealth of evidence that incriminates and reveals how far into our system the tendrils go. The question is whether this evidence can be uncovered before it is destroyed or silenced.

  14. Thank you, to you, Nick Davies, Chris Bryant and all who were brave enough to stand up to this insidious, anti-democratic bunch of thugs. Considering the consequences of not cowering, your actions should not be underestimated but applauded. Thank you again.

  15. Why are the media allowed to have political allegiances in the UK? We have an Australian who’s an American citizen holding UK political parties to ransom over which party his organisation supports. Richard Desmond, Trinity Mirror and the rest are no different. We have a biased press brainwashing the masses into voting the way a billionaire media magnet tells them and we have politicians desperate for their endorsement.

    Why hasn’t there been a bill to force the media to be fair and politically unbiased? Until such a law is made newspapers will continue to arrogantly (and rightly) claim that THEY won the election. We will not have a democracy whilst the media control the voters.

  16. Well said Tom…. in the words of Roy Walker from Catchphrase “say what you see” we done that man.

  17. I believe some people do not see what the true picture is. “These people corrupted our country. They brought shame on our police force and our Parliament. They lied and cheated, blackmailed and bullied. We should all be ashamed when we think how we cowered before them for so long” Many people are unable to see through the smoke screen of a man trying to influence politicians to advance his commercial interests. While at the same time politicians were trying to court a man who was in control of an organisation which dealt in information (legally or illegally obtained) this man also was in control of an organisation that could control the perception(s) of ordinary people depending on how he used information. It was the very fact that he had this power that governments and politicians became entrapped in his web. It is plain to anyone who is not part of this whole mess that certain individuals felt that they could circumvent the democratic process as well as the laws that our democratic process protected. I do not feel that Mr Murdoch set out to be the corrupted mogul he is. History as taught us many times over that power corrupts. This is especially more evident when the individuals involved believe they are above or beyond the law. In view of the way things seem to be heading would it not be appropriate to suspend the upcoming changes (mayors, and elected individuals along party lines in charge of police. This will inevitably destroy the independence of not only our law enforcement officers but also the independence of individuals who choose which laws to prioritise.

    We do not yet know the extent of what really as happened in London until all relevant criminal and public inquiries are resolved. I do not feel that we are any were near to what really as been going on but I am sure if all parties and individuals outside of the News Corp Web come forward as suggested by Tom Watson we will be able to see the real picture and the damage they have been doing to our country. I have already sent an e-mail to Lord Leveson Enquiry asking him to suggest a halt in the new police reforms. When Lord Leveson inquired about “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” culture part or MR Murdochs reply was “that is the price of living in a democracy” I wonder what the millions of ordinary people feel about that reply.

  18. Louise Mensch of course had her books published by Murdoch … [edited]

    tom only a matter of time before the whole rotten company turns totally in on itself. Keep pushing along with Ed and bring it all down for a new era of proper public interest reporting.

  19. Would it be beyond the realms of possibility that Ms Mensch and the other Tories have more to lose, along with the Tory party as a whole, should the Murdochs lose control of the media in this country. The words “It was us wot won it” may come back to haunt a few Tory acolytes!

  20. Genuine, heartfelt thanks for your convictions, your tenacity, and your eloquence.

    Though an ocean away, we in America suffer the repercussions of Murdoch’s moral depravity every day. While he has certainly corrupted many individuals / institutions in both our countries, far more damaging is his ongoing corruption of public discourse. We are all entitled to our personal politics, but Murdoch and his cronies across the globe use their power and wealth to intentionally deceive, misrepresent, and obfuscate. Thus far, their actions in America have gone entirely unchecked; my only hope is that a handful of ‘our’ (I use the term loosely) politicians might muster a tenth of your bravery, temerity, and integrity.

    Sincere thanks to you, and to your (no doubt equally tenacious and dedicated) staff. – from the mountains of Appalachia, United States of America

  21. I am extremely proud of you for your sense of justice, your tenacity in keeping going in light of immense difficulties. I know absolutely that both sets of grandparents would also be very proud of you. Good luck in your quest to bring this injustice to an end.

  22. Here in the US, Murdoch’s Fox News is the official mouthpiece for the Republicans. Nothing but lies, racist and sexist remarks about Democrats come from Fox News’ (ahem)
    journalists! Canada was correct for not allowing Fox and News Corp. to invade their country! They kept the liars out! The UK, US and Australia should have too!

  23. Well said Mr Watson. You are a Shining Star that has proved that good can over come evil. You should really consider leading the Labour Party if ever the opportunity arises.

  24. Well done Tom! Your a credit to Parliment! You have restored my faith in SOME MPs.
    Pity the Tories on the committee couldn’t follow your lead and stand up to Murdoch!
    Shame on them!!!

  25. Nice to see a conviction politician for a change. I must admit for a long time today I thought had you missed a trick by not removing the line the Conservative MP’s objected to about Mr Murdoch being a fit person to run a major global business. But if you truly believe this to be the case then , of course, you must state that. I believe the Conservative MP’s were afraid to back you because of their own vested interests. They were being disingenuous to say taht it was because this statement was outside the remit of the Committee. You and indeed your Labour and Liberal colleagues reached as obvious a conclusion as 2 + 2 = 5. Messrs Murdoch either lied, or have shown gross incompetence. I have no doubt that a climate of fear existed within the NOW newsroom that prevented people who knew about what was going on from exposing it. Where could they go to within the company? An ordinary member of the public who long before any inquiry, or committee was set up had marked the cards of Messrs Murdoch and their syncophantic cohorts.

  26. Tom,
    Heard Roy Greenslade on ABC Radio Sydney this morning saying that he still believes that, ultimately, Murdoch will be allowed to pass the ‘Fit and Proper Person’ test and so be able to purchase the controlling share of BSkyB that he craves to take his media empire into the 21st century and beyond for his family and his company.
    One has to respect the judgement of Roy Greenslade, however I just hope that his assessment of the final outcome of all the machinations into the behaviour of the ‘Murdoch Mafia’ in the UK sees things change more definitively than that.
    Cheers from the One Party State of Murdochalia, otherwise known as Australia. You are a champion of the little guy.

  27. Thank you so much for all your work, Tom – you restore my faith in you and your comrades if not the rest of the Labour Party. I have another Bob Dylan quote for you: “Money doesn’t talk; it swears.”

  28. How I wish there were a ‘voice of the people’ website for people to give their views and advice to the labour party outside focus groups. if there were one then I would point out yet another Tory PR disaster today. The Evening Standard lead story was Cameron saying he wanted every town and city to have a Boris and that you didnt need to be a Tory to vote Boris. For a start off, I would like to walk Boris around Stockton on Tees on a Saturday afternoon and see how impressed people are. If he could find anyone of course. The shops were deserted last Saturday as no one has any cash. Talk about London centric and I live in London.

    Also, is it only me, or is Dave not effectively saying that he has given up the ghost on the Tory credibility front. We know you hate Tories but Boris is a one off. sigh. where is Alistair Campbell when you need him? Why are Labour not eating these errors alive. Sigh.

  29. You can dish it out, but you can’t take it, can you?

    Such hubris, in a man of so few achievements.

  30. None of this appears to apply in Scotland. There has been no enquiry North of the border and Strathclyde Police are dragging their heels after been given a file with hacking victims by human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar. Bear in mind that Strathclyde Police acted immediately when News International accused Tommy Sheridan of perjury including turning over the Sheridan’s home. They gave the common observer the distinct impression they were acting on News International’s behalf. No wonder Ian Hamilton QC said Scotland was a fascist state in his blog in January 2011.

  31. I am deeply concerned abt the power of Murdoch in this country. He is talking abt controlling the internet. Him and
    his family should be deported immediately back to Australia.
    I trust this will happen. We do not need him. Good Luck to
    you and thank you for your efforts.

  32. Was Ms Mensch’s accusations against Piers Morgan made in Select Committee hearings “deductive” or based on evidence? She didn’t even have appeared to consult her fellow members before making such accusations?
    Perhaps she is now being ultra cautious having been once bitten……..?

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