Phone hacking illegal, but email hacking fine. Well, if it’s my email it is

Nick Davies will forever be known as the journalist who broke the phone-hacking scandal in the Britain, bringing down the 168-year-old News of the World tabloid.

At a Christchurch WORD event on Tuesday night, he discussed his views on the media and his book, Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch, with The Press editor Joanna Norris.

Starting in 2008 after a tip-off, Davies, who works for The Guardian, began investigating illegal phone-hacking and bribery by journalists employed by News International.

He wrote more than 100 articles over two years on the activities but it was only when he revealed News of the World journalists had listened to and deleted voicemail messages left for murdered teenager Milly Dowler that public outrage forced the police to re-open investigations.

By 2011, it was revealed more than 210 people had been complicit in the illegal activities and victims numbered more than 5000.

Don’t hold your breath that the same will happen in New Zealand when it comes to email hacking.  Journalists, decent, trained and skilled, have been directly involved in the Dirty Politics hacking against me and others.   

In the interview, Davies said a brilliant source that appeared “out of the ether” became his guide so from the outset he knew the scale of the activity.

“I knew the police were sitting on detailed evidence.”

Asked what it took to persist despite ongoing attacks from Murdoch’s press, Davies said it was a combination of his own “personal madness” and the “stupid arrogant aggression” of Murdoch’s company.

“These people are used to using aggression to get their way. But in this case it worked against them.”

News of the World was closed, former editor Andy Coulson was jailed, senior staff at the Metropolitan Police resigned, The Press Complaints Commission was shut down and the Leveson Inquiry was set up to examine “the culture, practices and ethics of the press”.

The police are actively investigating Dirty Politics.  It is a mass of information and a lot of people to work through.  I get regular updates and although I am keen to see some people have to face the public, their peers and the court system over their involvement in bringing down a democratic government by interfering with an election through conspiracy and crime, I can wait.

I know who they are.  And they know I know who they are.  And I know what they’ve done.

It will be interesting to see what the media will do when this goes public.  Will they all close ranks?  Or will they cauterise the offenders and make them virtual outcasts?   Will they, again, put their mates before the law?  I don’t have much hope that they will choose the law.  Instead they’ll dress it up in press freedoms.

Of course, setting up “anonymous” Twitter accounts and regularly leaking my emails so that their colleagues can then claim “public interest” and not have to worry about breaking the law themselves will be frowned upon, but the fact it was done with full knowledge of management and lots of snickering from colleagues will be denied.   Or they’ll try.

Some people in New Zealand media better have an exit plan sorted.  The police won’t care about your clique and will simply follow the evidence.   That said, the media outrage about police interference will be substantial, and the public will be told their story, not mine.   After all.  That Slater guy is the 2nd most hated person in New Zealand.  After Dotcom.

It’s a fact you know.  They printed it, so it must be, right?

 

– Cate Broughton, The Press


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