Google+ Followers

Friday, 10 July 2009

Rupert Murdoch and the Corruption of the British Media

In 1969 Rupert Murdoch purchased The Sun newspaper in 1969. He turned it into a trashy tabloid and it was not long before it had become the best-selling daily newspaper in Britain. Later that year he purchased the News of the World, Britain’s largest selling newspaper.

The two newspapers advocated extreme right-wing policies over the next ten years and played an important role in the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. He continued to support Thatcher in her decision to create mass unemployment by reducing spending on the public sector. This policy also undermined the power of the trade-unions. This enabled the Tories to pass anti-trade union legislation that helped Murdoch win his fight with the print unions.

In 1981 Murdoch purchased The Times and the Sunday Times. He also created News Corporation that controlled all his media interests. This includes film and television companies such as Sky and Fox and a large number of newspapers and magazines in the United States and various other countries. It has been claimed that he is the most important political influence in the western world.

In the late 1990s it became clear that the British public had turned against the right-wing Tory government. In the 1997 general election, the Murdoch press supported the Labour Party. This would have come as no surprise to those that had watched Murdoch’s behaviour in Australia. He had supported their Labour Party in the past. However, when they gained power with his support, they turned into a right-wing authoritarian government.

The same thing happened in Britain. After he won the 1997 election, Tony Blair abandoned his left-wing agenda and showed himself to be a Thatcherite. According to Lance Price, who worked for the Labour government, Blair would always consult Murdoch before introducing any new policy.

Murdoch was also a great supporter of the illegal invasion of Iraq. Every one of his 179 newspapers also supported this policy. He claimed at the time that the invasion would result in lower oil prices and an increase in stock market shares. His newspapers also played an important role in persuading the public that Iraq had WMD.

When Blair became unpopular with the British public he joined the plot to get Gordon Brown made the new prime minister without an election. Brown had been under the control of Murdoch for many years. However, after six months it became clear that Brown would lose the next election and so Murdoch’s newspaper’s began to support David Cameron.

Murdoch seemed untouchable. All leading politicians were too frightened to take him on. They knew he would use the whole of his media empire against them if they did that. Then something happened yesterday that might give us the opportunity to remove this terrible influence on British life.

The story begins in 2006 when members of the royal household complained that they believed that their mobile phones had been hacked into. The anti-terror police investigated the case as they feared it might be connected to a Muslim terrorist group. A few months later, Clive Goodman, a journalist working for the News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective, were arrested. Mulcaire confessed to hacking into the royal family’s mobile phones to listen to their voice-mail and that he had been paid to do this by Goodman.

In January 2007, Goodman was sentenced to four months in prison and Mulcaire got six months. Andy Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World. He claimed that he knew nothing about this phone hacking. Anyone with any experience of newspapers knew that Coulson was lying. No editor would ever publish a potential libellous story without knowing the source of the story. Goodman was portrayed as a rogue reporter.

Les Hinton, the chairman of News International, appeared before a parliamentary committee and told MPs he had carried out a full investigation into the case and he was convinced that Goodman had been acting alone. The Press Complaints Commission also claimed they could find no evidence that Coulson knew anything about these illegal activities. Although he was strangely not interviewed by the PCC.

On July 9, 2007, David Cameron appointed Andy Coulson as Conservative Party Director of Communications on a salary of £450,000 a year. Why? Maybe because he is the man who knows all the secrets of the politicians.

The police supported this view that Coulson did not know anything by not bringing anymore prosecutions against News of the World reporters. However, we now know that the police did have a great deal of information about large-scale phone-hacking by Murdoch’s journalists. For example, Glenn Mulcaire had been paid £2,000 a month as a retainer fee for News Corporation. Evidence suggests he had been working for 37 different journalists. Mulcaire’s work had resulted in several scoops including those against the socialist politician, Tommy Sheridan, David Beckham (Rebecca Loos) and Sven-Goran Eriksson (Faria Alam).

Why did the police not follow up cases against these 37 journalists? How much did Murdoch pay to the police to stop these prosecutions?

The problem is that some policemen earn extra money by selling information to the press and other interested parties. One of them tipped off Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballer’s Association, that his phone had been hacked by Glenn Mulcaire. He therefore decided to sue News Corporation. In September, 2007, News Corporation paid Taylor and two of his football contacts, over a £1 million in a case that was held in secret. The people involved promised not to reveal details of the case. The High Court then joined in the conspiracy by sealing the evidence obtained from the police.

Someone, we don’t know who, tipped off Nick Davies, a reporter, about what had happened and the story appeared in yesterday’s Guardian. Rupert Murdoch immediately announced he knew nothing about this £1 million payout. This surely can be proved to be a lie.

The Guardian also provided a list of some of the people whose phones were hacked by Mulcaire. This included several cabinet ministers, including John Prescott, the former deputy prime-minister. This obviously has implications for national security. However, Prescott insists he was never told by the police that attempts had been made to hack his phone.

The most amazing response was from the police. Assistant Commissioner John Yates, quickly issued a statement that the police were unwilling to reopen the investigation into the case. Yates was of course the man who led the investigation into the corruption of Tony Blair and decided that he should not be prosecuted for any offences. I wonder how much money he was paid to reach this conclusion? How much was he paid for yesterday’s statement.

Other than the Guardian and the BBC, the rest of the media are doing what they can to ignore this story. One former editor of the Sun claimed yesterday that the whole story is a “socialist conspiracy”. The reason that even non-Murdoch papers are ignoring the story, is that they have also relied on illegal phone-hacking to get their stories and are worried where all this will lead. How many journalists will end up in prison for these offences? That is why it is important that we use the internet to expose this story.

No comments: