Guardian accused of 'sexing up' phone-hack coverage

The former managing editor of the News of the World has attacked The Guardian and its editor Alan Rusbridger for 'sexing up'its coverage of the hacking scandal and holding the tabloid press in contempt.

Richard Caseby today told the Joint Committee on Privacy Injunctions that it was 'now clear that Alan Rusbridger has effectively sexed up his investigation into phone-hacking and the wider issue of wrongdoing in the media".

The claim comes after the Met yesterday said it was 'unlikely'that reporters from the NoW deleted voicemails on the mobile phone of murdered school girl Milly Dowler in the first 72 hours after her disappearance – an act her parent's said gave them 'false hope'she was alive.

It was a key claim in The Guardian's bombshell story in July – which prompted the closure of the News of the World days later and the creation of the Leveson Inquiry – but it has been dismissed as a 'false accusation" by Caseby, the current managing editor of The Sun.

"As you are, I am sure, aware, the Metropolitan Police has now confirmed that the NoW was not to blame for deleting the specific mobile phone messages of Milly Dowler that gave false hope to her parents that she was still alive," said Caseby.

"Let me be clear: phonehacking by the NoW was wrong and it is rightfully condemned by all.

"But The Guardian statement of fact, in I think it was 34 articles, that the paper had given the parents false hope is quite another matter - because that accusation turned what was natural condemnation into a wave of such utter public revulsion that the NoW couldn't really function as a going concern any more and it had to be shut down."

Rusbridger has 'agenda against the popular press'

Caseby said the accusation 'directly resulted in 200 people being thrown out of work".

'I can see that Alan Rusbridger is still finding it hard to acknowledge how seriously this repeated error has undermined his paper's authority.

"In fact he tried to justify it yesterday, saying that his paper reported the facts as they were known at the time.

"The trouble is they were never facts. They were only ever allegations."

He went on to claim that Rusbridger had now 'turned his attention to The Sun" in what amounted to an "agenda against the popular press".

"He tried, I believe, to capitalise on public revulsion and close another News International title," he claimed.

As well as the Dowler story, Caseby also cited The Guardian's front page story in July claiming the paper had accessed the medical records of the infant son of former prime minister Gordon Brown.

The Guardian later published a correction on page 36 of the paper after The Sun revealed that it had in fact found out about Brown's son having cystic fibrosis from a member of the public whose son also suffered from the condition.

On 23 November, The Guardian was again forced to apologise to The Sun when it claimed on its front page that a reporter from the paper was sent to doorstep a barrister involved in the Leveson Inquiry.

The Guardian later admitted: 'The Sun did not send a reporter to the barrister's home. We apologise for the error and any suggestion that there was an intention by the Sun to show a lack of respect to the Inquiry or Lord Justice Leveson."

Caseby said: "Mr Rusbridger has shown a pattern of behaviour that poses a serious question over his motivations.

"He has an agenda against the popular press, a section of the media he clearly holds in contempt."

MORE ON THIS STORY : 

Tags: 

Sign up for our free weekly digital magazine, Press Gazette Journalism Weekly, and daily newsletter
To contact Press Gazette with a story call 0207 936 6433
or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk
To advertise, please call 0207 936 6764.