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News International: How deep does the rot go?

Rebekah Brooks has fallen from power as the ongoing saga at News International, and across the political scene continues, writes Rachel Brooks 

The resignation of Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of defamed News International is intended as a sacrificial offering to keep the hounds from the door.

It is unlikely to work.

Following the closure of News of the World, Murdoch’s removal of his bid for full control of BSkyB and an FBI investigation into News Corps, this really has been one of the most remarkable weeks in politics and journalism.

Details of how far this corruptions goes are emerging daily, as people around the world watch with delight at the undoing of Murdoch’s evil empire.

But how far does the rot go? Since the News of the World was closed on 10 July more accusations have emerged – the most recent being the revelation that Sir Paul Stephenson, head of Scotland Yard had employed Neil Wallis as his strategic communications adviser.

Wallis had been deputy editor of the NotW under the disgraced Andy Caulson. Stephenson is in hot water, because he failed to mention Wallis when he was summoned before a parliamentary committee in early July.

It must have slipped his mind.

If Coulson is found to be complicit in the phone hacking then he will face serious charges since he gave evidence in Tommy Sheridan’s 2010 perjury case, swearing on oath that he did not know of phone hacking at News of the World. Evidence from a New York Times investigation into phone hacking argued that Coulson was aware of this practice.

The high profile jobs that seem to be regularly dished out to ex NI employees is quite revealing. After a few years in journalism working for right wing rags it seems relatively easy to end up in a well paid job working for the Metropolitan Police, or even for the Conservative party. The establishment clearly looks after its own – and none of this would have come to light if it hadn’t of been for a few individual MPs and the Guardian pursuing the story to the end.

Cover up

Details emerged that the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, had the medical records of his son passed onto Brooks, as well as his bank account accessed by Sun journalists.

The practice of “blagging” (calling up a celebrities bank enough times until you eventually gain access to it) has emerged as a tool used by desperate journalists at News International publications.

The Times, the least profitable of the News International papers, has also now been dragged into the debacle. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly likely that the practice of hacking into phone messages, medical records and bank accounts of celebrities, politicians and murder victims, was part of the day-to-day life of News International publications, not just NotW. If this is the case, it is highly unlikely that Brooks, Coulson and James Murdoch were unaware of this practice.

The role of the police is also becoming clearer – though it is doubtful we will ever know the true extent of the links between the Murdoch press and the constabulary.

Despite Brooks’ candid admittance that she paid police officers for information, we are only now discovering how deep this corruption went. In 2009 the police disbanded their investigation into phone hacking, amid claims that there was not enough evidence to continue. This is despite the fact that the already had in their possession a list of over 4,000 names of alleged hacking victims.

Taken in light of Brooks’ statement – made years ago to a parliamentary committee – that she paid police officers, then you don’t need to be a genius to put the two things together: there are clearly reasons for thinking that informal, personal ties and financial relationships between the police and the NotW were a factor in the pulling of the original investigations.

One parliamentary committee has already summoned high-ranking police and former police officers to a hearing into pay offs and phone hacking. Former police chief, Andy Hayman, was asked if he ever excepted pay offs to which he replied “Good God, absolutely not. I can’t believe you suggested that”. His outburst was met with laughter, and an MP sitting on the committee called him a “dodgy geezer.” Hayman not only worked for News International after leaving the police force, he is also the officer in charge of the operation which led directly to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.

Day by day details of who has been hacked and when have hit the front page of every publication (except those belonging to the News International family.) Commercial pressure begun to squeeze and Rupert Murdoch was flown in. All three parties joined forces to try and stop Murdoch’s bid for full take over of BSkyB. And then it came: Murdoch announced that News Corp would not be taking over BSkyB. In one week they have lost one of their most profitable publications and lost their bid for full control of BSkyB. Could the week get much worse for Murdoch?


Murdoch has traditionally had a tight control over the political scene, his minions promising to wreck the career of any MP that got in his way or threatened to fight News International. But the tables have turned, and politicians have “lost their fear”. Now Murdoch, Brooks and Coulson have all been invited into questioning in parliament.

Murdoch’s tyranny is starting to subside – the spell is broken, but we should be under no illusions that these politicians are suddenly saints. One week they are dining with Brooks and Coulson and laughing at their jokes – the next they are condemning them in parliament. Certainly it is not because they suddenly had  a fit of morality, rather they are desperate to appear the most blood thirsty against Murdoch to court popular anger and win votes.

On the same day that Brooks resigns, the FBI announced an investigation into Murdoch’s empire stateside, specifically at allegedly hacking the phone messages of 9/11 victims and their families. He is very unpopular in media circles for buying Wall Street Journal in an attempt to squeeze The New York Times.

The New York Times have dedicated much time and energy to discovering how corrupt Murdoch is and it is thanks to their journalists, alongside Nick Davies and Guardian journalists that any kind of truth has come out.

Then there is FoxNews. The most abhorrent, rotten and hateful news channels possibly imaginable inspires legitimate fear and mistrust from ordinary people. How far corruption goes there is something that needs immediate investigation.

The news of Brooks’ resignation will have socialists, journalists and victims of her wicked games celebrating. But it isn’t enough – we can’t rest on our laurels and hope for a fairer capitalist media.

Brooks, the Murdoch’s and various police chiefs have not faced criminal investigation yet, and yet they are the most responsible for this entire mess. The empire must be taken down – a full and open investigation into the affair is essential, one which includes experts from the NUJ and other unions who know the industry and can ask the right questions.

The entire scandal shows us of how corrupt our system really is. It also puts into the spotlight the whole question of control of the media – “who owns it and what kind of influence do they wield?”

For some time now Murdoch has reigned over the world of communication and maniulation of popular consciousness with fear, intimidation, a right wing ideology and desire to make huge amounts of money.

With Murdoch in charge we can have no genuine freedom of speech, because he sets the agenda, and his agenda is fundamentally in favour of the capitalist class – his class.

We must take this opportunity, amidst all the sleaze and scandal, to talk about what we really need: a democratically run and publically-owned media, one that ensures journalistic freedom and autonomy from the interests of the rich and powerful. Whilst the damage to News International is a joy to behold, only when the control of Murdoch, and people like him, over mass communication is destroyed and replaced with workers control can socialists truly celebrate.



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