Campaign launched for public inquiry into phone-hacking

The Media Standards Trust is tomorrow set to launch a campaign for a public inquiry into phone-hacking at the News of the World in the light of new claims that the paper may have hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

The move comes as Labour leader Ed Miliband today backed shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper’s call for such an inquiry to be held.

3.50pm UPDATE: Home Office minister Baroness Browning told the House of Lords that the Government has ruled out holding a new public inquiry for now.

A police investigation into allegations of phone hacking is currently under way. It’s important that the investigation is allowed to proceed and the conclusions made public.

The Government believes it most appropriate to consider the outcomes of the police investigations and the various inquiries before deciding whether any further steps are necessary.

An official public inquiry would be around the eighth or ninth public inquiry or investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World (depending which ones you count), and one can only hope that it would prove more successful than previous ones.

The Press Complaints Commission has held two inquiries into phone-hacking and on both occasions swallowed the now laughable defence that hacking was only carried out by the jailed duo Goodman and Mulcaire.

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee extensively investigated phone-hacking as part of its inquiry into Press Standards, Privacy and Libel and condemned the “collective amnesia” of the various News of the World executives it interviewed but failed to bring much new evidence to light.

The Commons Standards and Privileges Committee investigated the hacking of MPs’ mobile phones, but not particular cases, concluding that there should be no new offence in law.

Just to recap, the following inquiries or investigations into phone-hacking and the News of the World are currently ongoing:

The investigation by the PCC Phone Hacking Review Committee, launched in January this year.

The Home Affairs Select Committee investigation into the unauthorised tapping into or hacking of mobile communications, which has a fairly narrow remit to look at the definition of phone-hacking offences and the police response.

The Operation Weeting Met Police inquiry which has so far seen five journalists arrested – but no-one charged.

The civil legal actions brought by around 30 individuals against the News of the World which will result in a test case involving five high profile figures reaching trial in January.


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