By Tim Hardy
By the end of the week, maybe as early as tomorrow, Rebekah Brooks will have resigned and News International and the coalition will hope to draw a line under events.
We cannot let this happen.
The allegation that News of the World hacked and deleted messages from the voicemail of Milly Dowler is so obscene that it has stirred to action even those who found the previous allegations of voicemail hacking a dull, single-issue, minority obsession.
However close the friendship between Cameron and Wade, she will be considered an acceptable sacrifice, as Coulson was before her, if the Conservative strategists think dropping her will allow them to reward Murdoch for his support.
There is a police investigation into hacking allegations … they should investigate this without any fear, without any favour, without any worry about where the evidence should lead them.
They should pursue this in the most vigorous way that they can in order to get to the truth of what happened.
That is the absolute priority as a police investigation.
That a Prime Minister should have to suggest the police carry out their duties without fear of where the evidence should lead, that this would ever need to be stated, speaks volumes about the habitual failure of British justice. It is a coded message that the guilty will no longer be protected.
But the problem goes far, far deeper than News of the World and the Murdoch empire, the Conservative Party and the corruption of the British police – although all are implicated.
Dan Hind sees the problem as that of a media that has failed:
The British media in their current form can neither regulate themselves or report adequately on their own activities. These failures must be added to their demonstrable inability to describe the broad outlines of the economic system in the run-up to the crisis of 2007-8, and their failure to expose the government’s manipulations and deceits in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The media’s collective failure to describe themselves accurately is of a piece with their failure to describe the wider world of power to which they belong.
The BBC in particular stands revealed as an institution without an investigative function. Though it receives more than £3 billion annually and claims its mission is ‘to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain’, it has consistently been unable to provide an accurate account of reality when powerful forces are arrayed against it.
Dan Hind, The Limits of Acceptable Controversy
The BBC certainly proved poor value for money on 26 March. Their distorted vision of events has been seized on by the Met, poor journalism standing in for genuine intelligence, because it advances the agenda of a politicised police force that seeks an end to the right to protest and demands, like Joe McCarthy, that we denounce one another.
On 29 March, Lynne Owens, assistant commissioner of the Met, gave oral evidence to the Commons Home Affairs select committee:
Q16 Mr Clappison: I saw a report in a Sunday newspaper, I have to say, about coverage that the BBC had given to UK Uncut before this took place. Do you have any view on that?
Lynne Owens: We have the BBC coverage and it will form part of our case.
Q17 Mr Clappison: I think the comment was BBC giving publicity to UK Uncut in advance of the demonstration and interviewing them about what they intended to do and so forth.
Lynne Owens: I haven’t seen that part of the footage. I did think it was interesting last night that there was a spokesperson for UK Uncut, who appeared on Newsnight, who was not prepared to condemn the violence and indeed suggested that they were, rather than one movement, just a group of individuals. I think that is a different stance from that which we are seeing reported in some media today, and of course as the Metropolitan Police Service we would always condemn violence and would hope that other people who wanted to peacefully protest would do likewise.
Owens ignored MPs repeated concerns that the police had lied to protesters. At present, the police are attempting to deny video evidence of their own dishonesty in arresting UK Uncut protesters at Fortnum & Mason on 26 March.
Contrary to what Lynne Owens claims, the Metropolitan Police Service are pretty slow to condemn violence when it’s by their own – and sections of the press are always too happy to carry their lies to protect them as happened after Ian Tomlinson was murdered at the G20 protests.
What News of the World have done marks a new low.
But every single day, the majority of the press pushes out a torrent of right-wing lies, attacking first the disabled, then people on benefits, then strikers, then the working poor. And they get away with it. And their repeated lies become reality, a consensus of opinion in which most swim making debate too often a matter of stating tribal affiliation not a search for truth. They back the rich and the powerful and enable the daily assault on our lives.
Rebekah Brooks will resign. Someone might go to prison.
The politicians, the police, the media owners will think that this marks the end of it and that we will forget.
We must not let this happen.