Press releases

Hackgate: Corruption in media, government and police

23rd July 2011

The exposure of the phone hacking practices of the News of the World newspaper has opened a window on the corruption in the media, in government and in the police. The facts of these revelations have probably shocked few within the LRC and much of wider society, but they have exposed the corruption at the heart of these institutions more clearly than before, and have forced the resignations of senior figures in each.

The victims of this phone hacking scandal have included murder and terrorism victims, celebrities and even union leaders such as Bob Crow. However all of this could have been avoided: in 2004 when the Employment Bill was being debated in Parliament, John McDonnell MP and Austin Mitchell MP (supported by the NUJ) sought to introduce a ‘conscience clause’ amendment which would have ensured that any attempt to dismiss a journalist for obeying the Press Complaints Commission code of practice would have been unlawful and therefore actionable in respect of compensation. All the main parties refused to support the amendments. Giving the code of conduct statutory force would have protected journalists against undue pressure from editors, and also prevented the development of a sewer journalism culture.

Jeremy Corbyn MP writing in the Morning Star said,

“A key point in this dismal downward spiral was the vicious battle of Wapping in 1986 as the Murdoch empire and police joined forces to destroy independent trade unionism in the Murdoch branch of the newspaper industry.

“Murdoch’s media outlets, all of them, all over the world, supported every aspect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Soon after becoming leader of the Labour Party, Blair headed off to enjoy Murdoch hospitality on a sun-kissed island to be reviewed by the Murdoch world executives team. He passed the test with flying colours and was supported by Murdoch throughout his tenure as PM, as was John Howard in Australia and Bush in the US.

“The News of the World’s phone-hacking and the news empire’s corrosive influence on politics and public life are deeply pernicious.”

That empire may be coming to an end.


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