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Phone hacking and media spin - the murky world of Andy Coulson
THE NEWS of the World (NoW) phone hacking scandal has claimed the job of Andy Coulson, David Cameron's spin doctor-in-chief. Coulson was editor of the NoW when one of its reporters, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, were jailed for illegally accessing voicemail messages.
Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland
Coulson resigned as editor but claimed he knew nothing of these activities that were supposedly confined to a single "rogue reporter" on the paper. He then went on to become Tory leader David Cameron's chief media advisor. He was appointed top communications director for the government when the Con-Dem coalition came to power in May 2010.
Coulson was forced by the defence to give evidence in the recent Tommy Sheridan perjury trial and again denied any knowledge of phone hacking. This is despite the fact that Glenn Mulcaire had Tommy Sheridan's phone and PIN number in his files when Coulson was editor of the News of the World.
Tommy Sheridan's legal representatives have demanded the authorities now review Coulson's evidence in the light of his resignation and the tsunami of evidence now coming to light that phone hacking was endemic at the NoW. We'll see if the police and the legal establishment pursue Coulson for perjury with the same iron determination as they did when waging a vendetta against Tommy Sheridan.
Rupert Murdoch's News International and News Corp Group have spent the last year fighting an increasingly un-winnable battle based on lies and cover-up. They have denied using illegal methods, but a series of legal cases by those who were victims of the NoW hacking has destroyed their flimsy defence.
Against this background, News International/News Corp's bid to take 100% control of broadcaster BSkyB is being considered by the Con-Dem government. While the Tories in particular clearly want the takeover to go ahead, they are under huge pressure to refer it to the Competition Commission. News International is furiously lobbying to try and prevent this from happening.
The close relationship between the Tory leadership and News International was further underlined by the revelation that David Cameron met James Murdoch, the Europe and Asia chairman of News Corp, for dinner over Christmas at the home of the News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks.
The dinner took place days after Cameron stripped Vince Cable of his powers over media takeovers and handed them to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt who will decide whether to allow the takeover to go ahead.
Further calls have been made to investigate the role of the Metropolitan Police who ignored a mass of evidence that thousands of people had been hacked by the private investigator working for NoW.
All of these murky events require a full, open and completely transparent inquiry into the actions of the NoW and News International. It should include investigating the role of the Met Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and their connections with News International as well as the links between Murdoch and the political establishment in Britain.
Such an inquiry should be made up of elected representatives of the media trade unions, the workers' movement and the wider working class, including the anti-cuts movement. It's time the lid was lifted and a bright light shone on the actions of the rich elite who think they are untouchable.
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