The News of the World phone hacking scandal is engulfing Downing Street and David Cameron is on the rack. But the alleged phone hacking crimes happened under the Labour government’s watch. We should remember who really is to blame for this mess, says Simon Emmett.
It not be a popular start, but may I say that I think that “Hackgate” is spiraling out of control, and needs to be reigned in. We need to get a sense of perspective into this. At present the investigation is still centered around the records of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, and his dealings with the former News Of the World reporter Clive Goodman. Both of whom have already served prison sentences for hacking. In effect, this is a wash of that case, which should have happened at the time. But because of the police failing to “follow the evidence”, and because the previous Labour government failed to launch an enquiry, we are now being hit with revelation after revelation.
The revulsion about listening in to a murder victim’s mobile phone messages is unparalleled, and quite rightly so. When the news concerned celebrities and politicians, none of us really cared. After all, we loved to read about it in the red tops whether we admitted it or not. Which is why the Mayor Of London Boris Johnson’s previous comments, when taken in context of what was known about the case at the time, are understandable.
Hindsight, though, is a wonderful thing, and no matter how much the public did not care originally, that all changed when it was revealed that Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked by Mulcaire. Nobody knew that ordinary people or victims of crime had been hacked. But the reason I call for a sense of perspective is that we should remember that these crimes of hacking are not new, they happened years ago. Which is why the pressure on the current Prime Minister is a little unfair. If anything, the only thing he has made the mistake of was hiring someone who took the rap for his staff’s wrongdoing by quitting his job. At least he claims that he did not know what his staff were doing – only time will tell if that was true or not.
And despite the fact these crimes happened years ago, Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson took the fall and resigned. I actually feel sorry for Sir Paul, after all he was not in charge of the Met when the original investigation took place. If anything, the only he reason he had to resign was because he too employed someone who worked at the News Of The World and since been arrested. But like Coulson, at the time of his appointment, did anyone know of any factual reason why he should not have been appointed?
Also, the Met are being dragged through the media because a statement that Rebekah Brooks made to a Select Committee years ago, in which she hinted at payments being made to police for stories. Again, this is not something that can be levelled at Sir Paul but he has nevertheless taken responsibility.
No, if anyone should be apologising or resigning it should by those figures that actually had involvement in the case. So to those protagonists I have these questions.
- Sir Iain Blair – Labour’s lap-dog Met Commissioner. He was the Commissioner in charge at the time, why did do nothing, and why no apology since.
- Gordon Brown – Despite his allegations against the Sun, and Sunday Times, which seem to be falling apart, he played a pivotal role in this scandal. What about his personal friendship with Rebekah Brooks? His failure to launch an enquiry?
- Andy Hayman – Why did he not follow the evidence, or even look at Mulcaire’s notes? It was sloppy policing aimed solely at getting “a result”. He got Mulcaire and Goodwin, result done.
- John Yates – What was he told to review? Was he asked to review the case of just the Guardian’s allegations in 2009? Plus, if he was asked to review the case and failed to do so properly what else has he failed to investigate? Conspiracy theorist are already looking at his involvement in the Cash for Honours investigation.
- Coulson, Brooks, and Wallis – What did they really know, and what (if anything) did they hold back from their subsequent employers.
Also, for Brooks, Coulson, Wallis et al, I would strike this word of caution: They may have been arrested, but they have not yet been charged with anything. Just as in the case of Lord Levy’s arrest during the cash for honours scandal, Labour spun the news of the arrest by claiming it was purely routine to help gather evidence. We should all view these arrests as the same – routine – until the judgment of any trial is handed. We are all innocent until proven guilty.
We do need a sense of perspective as these alleged crimes happened a while ago. If there was a no holds barred culture in the media, who allowed them to get away with? The previous government. If there were major failings in the original investigation, who oversaw that? The previous Commissioner.
The left-wing witch hunters need to remember who was in charge when it all happened.