Kaliph Anaz says the fall of Andy will be the end of a darkest episode in Britain’s tabloid journalism. Nowadays few remember the preaching of a pioneer named Charles Prestwich Scott. People are doomed if they fail to learn lessons from the history
The guilty verdict in the phone hacking charges against former News of the world editor Andy Coulson has rocked the British media industry. The prime minister, opposition Labour leader and many other top politicians were in a que to provide their sound bites. Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to apologise for employing Coulson as his director of communications.
“I am extremely sorry I employed him. It was the wrong decision,” Cameron told the media after the verdict.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, who was waiting for an opportunity to corner the prime minister, said: Mr Cameron had brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street. He must have had his suspicions about Mr Coulson and yet he refused to act. We now know that he put his relationship with Rupert Murdoch ahead of doing the right thing when it came to Andy Coulson.
He said the prime minster needed to do more than apologise – he “owes the country an explanation” as to why he did not act after the allegations surfaced. But who started this unholy nexus between the media and politics? Tony Blair addressed an annual conference of the News Corporation in Sydney when he was the opposition leader. Election after election, Murdoch was endorsing Tony as leader and ditched the party when Gordon Brown became the prime minister. Murdoch shifted stance when he was planning to bag the entire BskyB in a multi-billion pound deal.
If the deal did go ahead, it would make Murdoch’s News Corporation the most powerful of all the traditional media groups in the UK. The combination of Sky with News Corporation newspapers, such as the Sun, The Times and the Sunday Times, would generate annual revenues of around £8bn, compared with the £4.6bn income of the next largest player, the BBC.
With Coulson links, the Conservatives had benefited from the support of News Corporation’s newspapers during the general election. They are happy to approve the deal. But their coalition partner the Liberal Democrats were far more hostile to Mr Murdoch’s media empire. Whether to grant regulatory approval for any agreed takeover would be decided by the European Commission – unless it was called in by either Business Secretary Vince Cable or the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Mr Cable would have to say he had public interest concerns, while the OFT would have to stress competition fears. Meantime, the Guardian and the other media groups were looking for an opportunity to corner Murdoch. Finally they got a tool to beat Murdoch – Nick Davies in an investigative story disclosed that News of the World illegally targeted the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and her family in March 2002, interfering with police inquiries into her disappearance. The act of News of the World was termed as “heinous” and “despicable”.
Milly Dowler disappeared at the age of 13 on her way home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on 21 March 2002. Detectives from Scotland Yard’s new inquiry into the phone hacking, Operation Weeting, are believed to have found evidence of the targeting of the Dowlers in a collection of 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for phone hacking on behalf of the News of the World. That was the crucial blow to Murdoch and he was forced to sink the toxic ship News of the World after 168 years existence. The messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance in order to free up space for more messages. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive. Police feared evidence may have been destroyed.
Coulson, like many young journalists in the British media, was ambitious to become a big name in the Fleet Street. The fall of Andy will be the end of a darkest episode in Britain’s tabloid journalism. Nowadays few remember the preaching of a pioneer named Charles Prestwich Scott. People are doomed to fall if you fail to learn the lessons from history.