hacked into the mobile phone of murder victim Milly Dowler and deleted voice mail messages from concerned friends and family?
The hacks have done it again, but this time the very righteous indignation and powerful human emotion they harnessed to sell thousands of papers has been blown back in their faces in a perfect storm of disgruntlement and blind outrage.
The murder of Milly Dowler was a major case when it occurred and stirred-up public emotion no end. However, the sadness has now become anger and that anger has been aimed squarely at the News of The World and its former editor Rebekah Brooks.
Now, Brooks does not have the best ethical track record in the business it must be said. She is a formidable women who when she wasn’t baiting the public with campaigns to lynch suspected paedophiles on a national scale (leading to innocent casualties), spent her evenings beating up Grant Mitchell whilst the paper she edited ran an anti-domestic violence campaign. Now she is head of News International owners of The Sun, The Times and News of the World. Naturally it is not without coincidence that she is now at the centre of this deplorable case.
Unsurprisingly, Brooks has been pleading ignorance to these goings on in a similar manner to her NoW successor Andy Coulson (who of course was fired from a government communications role for his involvement in the NoW phone tapping scandal) and the Murdoch owned empire News Corporation is dragging its heels about firing her. Ignorance is not a great excuse however, as if anyone in a senior position of responsibility let something as awful as this happen under their stewardship they would be fired so fast their P45 would probably leave an exit wound as it was forcefully thrust into their chest.
Now I’ve commented before on what I think of journalists who excuse phone tapping due to their own misguided sense of what makes an open society. This time however the floodgates are going to open in a massive way and the effects are going to be great and far reaching.
Firstly, there will be questions over the legality of News Corp buying out the remaining shares of BSkyB given the unethical disrepute the organisation is currently in. Secondly and crucially, the NoW can expect a gigantic backlash from its readers, advertisers and other key stakeholders. Sales will undoubtedly drop and advertisers will want out. You also have to wonder if we could see a mass boycott not seen since citizens of Liverpool turned their back on The Sun following the coverage of Hillsborough.
Even now questions are being asked as to whether NoW did any phone tapping during the Soham murders and the Sarah Payne disappearance. Quite frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. I doubt it will end there either and worse findings will be yet uncovered.
Furthermore it actually shows what a messy and corrupt system the tabloid media operates and I’m glad the seedy underside of the industry is being shown for what it is.