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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Murdoch versus the rest

It is all kicking off over at the Murdoch press phone bugging scandal with what is described by the Independent as an an incendiary speech by Rhondda Labour MP, Chris Bryant, in which he accused the Metropolitan Police Force of misleading a Commons committee, and News International of engaging in the "dark arts" of tapping, hacking and blagging:

Damning the behaviour of the Metropolitan Police and Rupert Murdoch's News International, Chris Bryant claimed his friends had been told by an ally of Mr Murdoch that their raising the issue "would not be forgotten". Suggesting there was a "full-blown, copper-bottomed scandal", he said neither the police nor the newspapers had properly investigated the criminality and that attempts had been made to suppress the full scale of the wrongdoing. To a near-empty Commons chamber, Mr Bryant:

* Accused News International of carrying out illegal activities ranging from tapping phones to blagging phone records to conning health records out of doctors' surgeries;

* Stated he believed phone hacking had taken place at the News of the World from 2002, three years before it was formally acknowledged by police to have begun;

* Added that the alleged hacking had taken place under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks, the current head of News International and Mr Murdoch's most senior UK newspaper executive;

* Claimed one of Britain's most senior police officers misled a parliamentary inquiry by saying there had been only "eight to 12 victims";

* Questioned the Met's "narrow, false" interpretation of the law on intercepting messages;

* Disclosed eight MPs had been told they may have been victims.

Mr Bryant, a former Europe minister, said it had been communicated to MPs that they should not pursue the scandal – which allegedly involved the hacking of the former prime minister Gordon Brown, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott and dozens of other public figures.

Both News International and the Metropolitan Police deny the allegations. However, it cannot be denied that this issue is starting to blow up into a full scale scandal that neither will soon be able to keep a lid on. It is time for a full public airing of all the information available to the Police so that we can judge for ourselves.
The Independent added another dimension by reporting on the involvement of Jonathan Rees, about whom I'll leave it to the reporters who benefit from legal advice to comment: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/private-investigator-cleared-of-murder-was-on-coulson-payroll-2239757.html
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