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The plot thickens at News International
The News of the World's denials that illegal phone hacking was carried out by the newspaper on a regular and sustained basis are rapidly unravelling.
Philip Stott, CWI Scotland
Bosses at the News of the World (NoW) have now suspended the assistant editor Ian Edmonson, following new evidence that he sanctioned a private investigator to hack the phone of an actress, Sienna Miller.
This was allegedly done while former NoW editor Andy Coulson, now David Cameron's chief spin doctor, was in post at the newspaper.
For years Coulson and News International executives have claimed that only one 'rogue' reporter, royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2006, was involved in hacking.
However, Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator paid to do the hacking had 4,332 names, 2,987 mobile phone numbers and 91 PIN codes (needed for accessing voicemail messages) in his possession when the police arrested him. These included the details of Tommy Sheridan, who was an elected MSP in the Scottish parliament at the time. Moreover, Mulcaire had an "exclusive contract" worth over £100,000 to work for the NoW.
Despite this clear evidence that Mulcaire was involved in phone hacking on an industrial scale and that he had a signed contract with NoW, no further investigation was made by the Metropolitan Police. This has resulted in allegations of collusion and a cover-up by the Met. Andy Hayman, who led the inquiry for the police in 2006, now writes for the Times newspaper - owned by Murdoch and News International Ltd.
As Labour MP Paul Farrelly, a member of the culture select committee who looked into the phone hacking scandal, commented: "Had Mr Hayman been in charge of the Watergate inquiry, President Nixon would have safely served a full term."
This week the select committee met again to discuss the activities and actions of the NoW. Some MPs are demanding a full judicial inquiry into possible collusion between the Metropolitan Police and News International. Even leading New Labour figures including Alan Johnson and Ed Balls have raised the need for an 'independent inquiry' into how the Met investigated this case.
Under mounting pressure, the police will this week also hand over documents that they seized from Mulcaire relating to the hacking of a sports agent's phone. A string of legal actions by high profile individuals who were on Mulcaire's list is forcing the slow release of information from the Met. Tommy Sheridan is also considering an action against NoW.
All this is taking place while the Con-Dem government is deciding whether to allow Rupert Murdoch's News Corp/International to own 100% of BSkyB - which owns Sky TV. Currently they own around 39%.
Vince Cable, who was due to rule on that after he claimed he had "declared war on Murdoch" has been replaced by a more pliable Tory minister. So that may make the takeover more likely. It will leave News International, who already owns newspapers that control 37% of the market in the UK, by far the dominant media force.
It will also give News International access to huge financial resources to increase their effective domination of large parts of the press and wider media in the UK and internationally.
There is mounting evidence suggesting that Murdoch's billions have and are being used not just to dominate the media with their anti-working class and pro-rich propaganda, but also to influence the actions of the police and the legal establishment.
The only way to break the dictatorship of the billionaires in the media is through a wide-ranging programme of democratic public ownership of the industry. It would then be possible to ensure democratic access to the press based on an allocation to different ideas, including socialist views, dependent on their levels of public support. This could ensure an end to the scandalous abuse of power currently perpetrated by the billionaire media moguls.
In The Socialist 12 January 2011:
Youth fight for jobs
International socialist news and analysis
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news