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Updated: August 17, 2011 04:28 IST

Letter tears into ‘NoW’ claims on phone hacking

Hasan Suroor
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A letter from former “News of the World” reporter Clive Goodman (in picture) says that phone hacking was widely discussed and expressly endorsed by senior journalists at the now-defunct tabloid. File photo
AP A letter from former “News of the World” reporter Clive Goodman (in picture) says that phone hacking was widely discussed and expressly endorsed by senior journalists at the now-defunct tabloid. File photo

The claim by Clive Goodman, who was sacked after being jailed in 2007 for hacking into the phones of the royal family, blows a hole in the official NoW version that it was confined to Mr. Goodman who it described as a "rogue" reporter.

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal, pushed out of the front pages in the wake of the London riots, was back in the news on Tuesday after the House of Commons media committee investigating it released an explosive letter from a former NoW journalist claiming the practice was “widely discussed” at editorial meetings and senior figures knew about it.

The claim by Clive Goodman, who was sacked after being jailed in 2007 for hacking into the phones of the royal family, blows a hole in the official NoW version that it was confined to Mr. Goodman who it described as a “rogue” reporter. He wrote the letter to his employers appealing against his dismissal.

“This practice was widely discussed in the daily editorial conference, until explicit reference to it was banned by the Editor,” he wrote calling his dismissal unfair.

Embarrassing

The letter is also politically embarrassing for Prime Minister David Cameron as it claims his former communications chief, Any Coulson, who was Editor of NoW at the time, offered to let Mr. Goodman keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper.

Mr. Coulson was hired by Mr. Cameron after he quit NoW over the Goodman case. He has denied any knowledge of hacking under his watch.

The 160-year-old tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch and published by News International headed by his son James, was shut down last month following fresh allegations.

Tom Watson, Labour member of the Commons committee, described the letter as “the most significant piece of evidence that has been revealed so far”.

“It completely removes News International's defence. This is one of the largest cover-ups I have seen in my lifetime,” he said.

Mr. Goodman's assertion echoes that of the former NoW Editor, Colin Myler, and the company's former legal manager, Tom Crone, that senior News International executives, including Mr. James Murdoch, knew what was going on.

In his evidence before the committee last month, Mr. Murdoch denied any knowledge of hacking. The committee is likely to recall him amid concerns that he may have “misled” MPs.

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Phone hacking at NoW is one of the most disturbing episodes of investigative journalism which included intruding in lives of victims. The media has to exercise self regulation and if that fails, govt has to intervene in some form in larger interests of the people. Freedom of media is paramount but not at the cost right of privacy of victims.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Aug 17, 2011 at 10:56 IST
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