Blogosphere reactions to Nick Davies’ allegations

In Debate on July 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Nick Davies’ allegations in The Guardian last week provoked a number of interesting and apparently informed comments in the blogosphere. I’ve selected some of the highlights from The Guardian, Iain Dale’s diary and ConservativeHome (not a representative sample, but I’ve tried to reflect the main perspectives).

Broadly, they fell into the following categories:

  • Failure of self-regulation
  • Critical of News Group
  • Reaction about the political consequences
  • What’s all the fuss about and;
  • Where next?

Failure of self-regulation


You are right that the PCC is dead. It always was. Here’s a thought.

After a lot of messing about, it was decided (roughly speaking) that tax accountants wishing to introduce a so-called tax avoidance scheme should pre-clear it with the Revenue, or risk being in the dock themselves for assisting in tax evasion (a crime).

There should be some successor body to the PCC, working 24/7, able to give a pretty quick decision on whether something is or is not in the public interest prior to publication.

Newspapers should be at liberty not to consult such a body if they wish. But they should know that by taking such a course they are betting the company if they call it wrong.


A good article Simon. The issue about Media Regulation is going to come to the fore one day. Journalists like yourself should push for stronger and better self regulation before a government decides to step it. At that point freedom of speech would really be in jeapordy.


As for the PCC, they’ve been a joke for a very long time. Here’s hoping that this story will be the stake driven into the vampire’s heart.


I remember when he got the PCC job there were jokes going round, in what was once Fleet Street, about how the Press had managed to get Bozo the Clown to head up regulation. They laughed at their colleagues in the City who faced greater scrutiny, as they felt Bozo would be more worried about his priveleges than their ethics.

Critical of News Group


If the 2,000 or 3,000 “celebrities” all sued, I think that would sink the NOTW.

Saying this, if an average member of the public had his phoned tapped, would he/she be able to go court over it as easily as a “celebrity”.

Answer: No.

Live long…


The real significance of this story is the light it sheds on the enormous influence of the Murdoch empire. It seems that neither the police nor the prosecutors dare to tangle with an organisation which, after all is the Police State’s best friend.


Gawd. Even though my (now ex-) husband has been on the Sunday Times for 20 years and I know plenty about the inner workings of a Murdoch organ, these revelations have left me amazed. The extent of the cover-up is quite stunning, even by Murdoch standards. Forget the Queen, it seems it’s King Rupert who is the real ruler of Britain (and presumably the US, Australia and anywhere else his repressive tentacles can reach).


I spent 13 years on the Sunday Mirror, People and NoW variously and ran number plates and names through the police national computer through contacts in the police on almost a daily basis, as did every other hack.I also regularly got phone, bank and medical records.

But such activities were never to obtain stories but to help stand stories up. Otherwise papers would be spending fortunes on complete scattergun approaches.

It’s how redtops have worked, in my experience, since the mid 1980s when I did my first Saturday shifts. I’ve no problem with the way things worked we turned over some real villains and often worked closely with the cops as we could do things (quite legally) that they couldn’t. A system that worked well until cops started arresting people before we went to press scuppering weeks of work.

And there is one notorious paedophile, Roger Gleaves, who is still in prison as a direct result of one on my stories that relied in part on hacking his phone. o is phone hacking in a completely different category? Discuss.

Political reaction


Coulson was at the head of a bugging operation targeting anyone and everybody.

This must be bigger than Watergate. It’s got shit written all over it. He’s gotta go.

Lord Elvis of Paisley

I’m going to make a prediction. This story is not going to feature on the front page of the Sun tomorrow and will subsequently die a death. Methinks the government and it’s media cohorts have picked the wrong fight on this occasion and would have done better to let sleeping dogs lie.

There can be only one winner in this battle and it sure ain’t going to be the Grauniad or the people that are backing it.


If they are seen to be in cahoots with the Labour loving Gruinard on this affair the moves by the Murdoch Media group to distance itself from the mess that Labour has become may turn into a full scale stampede.

Invasion of privacy is not the sole provenance of the Murdoch Media group, the trendsetters since coming to power has been this Labour Government, you could say the NoTW was just being fashionable.

Batteredstrat said…

Just read the Guardian story, and it’s poor, thin on facts, and little more than a smear piece.

However, that does not mean that Coulson is totally in the clear.

Did he come into the NOTW at a point where this was already happening? Journos will protect their sources, even inside an organisation and editors have to trust the judgement of their sub editors.

If Coulson came into the organisation at a time when this was already happening, it is quite realistic that the truth was kept very quiet, the investment in technology had already been made, and that individual journalists would claim to have a human source but were economical with the truth.

After all, if you had a new boss, would you tell him that you had been breaking the law for years, and that it was common practice in the firm?

The story regarding Coulson is nothing more than innuendo right now, the Guardian don’t have the absolute truth or the truth is less damning, otherwise they would have printed it!

BTW, amazing how organised the trolls are at the moment, obviously the Labour party is in full election mode.

What’s all the fuss about?


The comentator on sky news said the heat was going out of this story… so that must be true, so move on now as there is nothing to see here.


As for the News of the World – what shocks me is why people are so shocked.


Oh, the irony of it.

Government Ministers like Two Jags might have been spied on – the justice of it, I know that two wrongs dont make a right but it makes me smile, if they don’t have anything to hide why worry? – Well that’s the argument they would use against the general public with their spying.

Next steps


roy, thank you for this most interesting assessment. what should happen now. should the police investigate this most disgraceful affair. should the editors and their lieutenants be questioned under caution if necessary. how far up does all this go. was mr murdoch himself privy to what happened. did the authorities back away as they were worried they would be taking on a mighty company. political parties require the support of newspapers. did this play a part in the decision to let off the news of the world with a ticking off. if found guilty should such leading people such as mrs wade be dismissed without compensation. the daily telegraph led the way in its stories about members of parliament. now the guardian has reminded us it has a thirst for the truth. if you take off your hat as a professor and resume your former identity as an Editor in the popular press might I ask, did you ever permit your team to acquire information using methods such as those deployed by the news of the world. do you believe news corporation is telling the truth. who is not telling the truth. having worked for the sun did its team ever use such methods. in troubled times like these all of us who value democracy and privacy are grateful for fearless watchdogs such as you.


In nick davies’ story he mentions that the Guardian’s sister paper also used the services of Steve Whittamore, the private detective used by the NoW. I hope the paper will tell us why ot needed the services of this man, what he did for the paper and whether his employent was snctioned by the editor and indeed the editor-in-chief, alan rusbridger


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