The phone hacking saga has, in less than two weeks, moved from the inside of the broadsheets – and blogs like this one – to front page news around the world. A number of items in the torrent of hacking stories have caught our attention. First, Select Committees have been in the news. On 12 July 2011 the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee heard evidence from Lord Blair, Peter Clarke, Andy Hayman, John Yates and Sue Akers. The evidence of the various officers has been widely commented on in the press. The transcript of the evidence is here.
Perhaps most interesting was the evidence from Sue Akers about the current inquiry. She said
“we have taken a very broad approach, we have also given a commitment that as we get through and identify the various people that are named in the material we will inform them that they are contained within that material. There are nearly, I think, 4,000 names, first names and second names, in the original Mulcaire documentation. We have undertaken to go and visit each one of these people and as we do that and we work out way though that, on the pages that they are shown, we are showing them the material because they can help with our investigation because they can make sensible numbers and connections that we can’t. As we show them that there are a range then of other people or numbers. They in turn belong to people who we have also said we will go and see”.
She went on to indicate that about 500 people had written to the inquiry asking if their names appeared and about 70 had received positive responses and, in total, 170 of the victims or suspected victims had been informed. There is clearly a long way to go.
Over recent days there has been media storm surrounding another Select Committee. The Media Culture and Sport Committee sought evidence from Rupert Mudoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks. Initiallythe invitation was declined but after an official summons was accepted. There was considerable confusion as to whether they had accepted. Evidence will be heard next Tuesday and victims of hacking will also be present before the Committee.
Then there was another arrest – that of Neil Wallis, the former executive editor of the News of the World (and editor of the “People”). He worked for News International from 2003 to 2009 and then as a senior consultant at PR firm Outside Organisation. In a further twist to the tale it was disclosed that Mr Wallis had a contract to provide PR advice to the Metropolitan Police between October 2009 and September 2010.
Today’s big news is Rupert Murdoch’s interview in the “Wall Street Journal” in which, to the surprise of many commentators, he has indicated that he believes that News Corp. has handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.” No further comment is required.
Finally, the phone hacking affair is now having repercussions in the United States and Australia. We leave readers with the advice of Australian PM Julia Gillard to the media: “Don’t write crap”