Former News of the World editor Derek Jameson has given an insight into the art of “bomb-proofing” your editor, in response to the latest developments in the phone-hacking scandal.
Jameson explains on Gentleman Ranters that former NoW editor Andy Coulson probably did not know that Goodman and Mulcaire were effectively bugging people’s mobile phones because: “It’s all down to a Yiddish expression I learned in the East End: ‘Better you shouldn’t ask’.
Jameson writes: “The editor carries the can for everything done in the name of his paper, and that includes breaking the law and even upsetting the moral minority. So when the news editor or another executive gets involved in anything dodgy, the last person to know about it is the editor.
“That way he is bomb-proof. If and when the proverbial hits the fan, he or she can say, hand on heart, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about. Try the Sun.'”
This was the response, Jameson explained, when a reporter got into the adjacent room to Prince Andrew and Koo Stark and held a glass against the wall to hear evidence that they were back together. That sounds like at least as heinous a sin as listening to someone’s mobile phone messages.
Another point not made by Jameson but worth mentioning I think is that for really good, really secret sources, reporters will not tell anyone who they are – even their editor or news editor. If you are, say, the chief reporter of The Sun or the NoW it is enough to say: “I know this is true, a very good source tells me it is, but I can’t tell you who they are.”