With the Leveson inquiry underway the public now have the chance to view the media and it's process of material or 'dirt' gathering and put it under the very same microscope that the media have used on so many, for so long. Public and private figures have gathered to give evidence in relation to their own personal torture at the hands of the press where they have been hacked, stalked and slandered. Now the lense and spectacle of judgement has done a 180 degree about face. The ones being judged now, are those very same 'judges' - The Tabloid Tormentors - "judge not lest ye be judged"
Personalities have long been victims of the 'trial by media' sensation who scurrilously go to any lengths possible to get their sordid scoop and when it is not possible to give 'the story' that 'final touch' - that Coup de Grace - they surmise and conjuer up even more lurid and salacious details to fill those empty gaps. All for the purposes of selling newspapers and to satisfy an ever growing hungry public.
Movie star Hugh Grant, "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, the family of murdered school girl Milly Dowler and the father of the missing four year old Madeleine McCann are among those due to testify over the next week at the U.K. inquiry into media ethics and standards — a judicial body that could recommend sweeping changes to the way we Britons get our news.
"The nationally televised inquiry will give many of those in the public eye an unprecedented chance to challenge those who write about them," said Cary Cooper, a professor at northern England's Lancaster University and the author of "Public Faces, Private Lives."
"This is the first time the celebrities have been able to strike back," Cooper said. "I think it will have an impact, and the media might - for a while at least - pull away." Victims' lawyer David Sherborne told the inquiry multiple tales of shattered privacy, broken lives and even suicides stemming from hounding media intrusion.
Kate McCann, mother of missing todler Madeleine, felt 'mentally raped' after the News of the World published a private diary she had been keeping for when her daughter returned to her and which disappeared from the family's holiday apartment while still in Portugal. The diary was seized by the Portuguese police who were investigating the disappearance of Madeleine at the time in 2007, but in September 2008 the (NOTW) published the journal under the headline: "Kate's Diary: In Her Own Words."
David Sherborne, the lawyer representing the McCanns along with 50 other victims of alleged press intrusion, will highlight how the experiences for all concerned left them feeling totally violated. The inquiry will not only show the outrageous actions of the tabloids but will shine giant lightbulbs on police corruption in the face of a sensational scoop for the media prowlers. Mr Sherborne said, “How did the News of the World get this from the police? We may never know now.” “The publication of this material with a picture on the front page suggesting Kate McCann had provided this herself left her feeling mentally raped, her husband says, and is it any wonder?”
On the third day of the public inquiry, Mr Sherborne made a searing attack on the tabloid press in Britain. He told the inquiry that phone hacking at the News of the World was more like an “industrial revolution” than the “cottage industry” that had been suggested previously by Robert Jay QC, counsel for the inquiry. But he said the hearings were about more than just the illegal interception of voicemails. He said his clients would paint a vivid picture of the “despicable” actions of some tabloid journalists, which led to a breakdown in the trust between the press and the public.
Milly Dowler's parents will also reveal the 'despicable' actions of the (NOTW) with the Surrey Police being ordered to release documents which could reveal whether corrupt officers sold investigative information about their murdered daughter to the News of the World. The ruling comes as the murdered schoolgirl’s parents prepare to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry about how the paper hacked their daughter’s phone when she went missing, hampering the investigation and intruding on the family's grief and torment.
Rupert Murdoch, the founder, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the parent company of the now defunct (NOTW) which closed it's doors after news of the hacking scandal had reached new lows when details of the Milly Dowlers tory broke, met with the Dowler family striking a payout deal for agony caused to the tune of £3 million pound. One million of which will go to six British charities that Milly Dowler herself would have supported had she lived. Either by way of police co-operation or private investigators hired by the News of the World to look into the missing teenager's death and forwarding to them any salacious evidence that they could come up with so that the paper could print it first.
A ruling in the High Court on Friday by Mr Justice Vos, who is due to hear a number of civil claims from alleged hacking victims, means the force will now have to hand over any information about it’s dealings with the News of the World during the 2002 Dowler investigation. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is already investigating allegations that an officer working for Surrey Police passed information to the newspaper, but this latest ruling will increase pressure on the force. Regardless of what comes out of this inquiry, whether the man at the helm knew or didn't know, the buck always stops at the top and one can undoubtedly say, "something certainly smells in Cairo" - As far as scandals go, it all wreaks of corruption and payouts which bears the question; 'what has indeed happened to true investigative journalism, or has everyone stooped to the level of the paparazzi who hounded Princess Diana to her death.' One could assume they should have learnt!
Stephen Lawrence was 18 years of age when his life and aspirations were brutally taken from him by a group of teenage racists who couldn't stand the colour of his skin. Yet, it has taken another 18 years to finally see the perpetrators of this callous and horrific killing brought to trial.
Stephen Lawrence's best friend Duwayne Brooks, who was with him at the time of the fatal stabbing and also 18 struggled to overcome his overwhelming emotions while giving evidence to the jury at the Old Bailey.
Duwayne Brooks, now 37, although having to overcome the grief of his recently deceased father told the jury how he saw his friend struck twice by two different weapons in an attack by six white men who had shouted racial abuse at them back in 1993.
Illustrating his fear and anguish, the 37-year-old said the scene in Eltham, south London, had been "distressing" and "scary". The court heard how the black teenager was set upon by a gang of white youths in Well Hall Road, Eltham, and fatally stabbed. Then, the dying A-level student while running away from the angry mob repeatedly cried out to his friend saying: 'Look at me, what's happened to me?' This was in the final moments of his life.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both of south London, have
been charged in the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
It is alleged they were among the group that forced Mr Lawrence to the ground at a bus stop, then stabbed him twice. Dobson and Brooks have always denied the murder.
Why has this taken so long to come to trial?
The initial investigation saw five suspects arrested but they were never convicted. The reason? Because in the course of the investigation it was ascertained that the motive for the murder had a racist element, meaning, Stephen Lawrence was killed because he was black. Because of this, the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service also saw issues of race clouding those involved judgment, leading to an inquiry.
An inquiry in 1999 headed by Sir William Macpherson examined the original Metropolitan police investigation and concluded that the force was "institutionally racist". The inquiry has been called 'one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain'.
It was because of this report and DNA evidence being made available that one of the original suspects, and another man, are now standing trial for the teenager's murder.
It was said at the time of the teenager's death, during which Graham Cooke, then a detective constable, conducted house-to-house inquiries including asking Dobson whether he had been at the scene of the murder that night that he appeared 'nervous.' Mr Cooke recounted to the jury at the Old Bailey saying: "In my opinion he was nervous at the time."
Gary Dobson, 36, was questioned at his parents' home in Eltham, south-east London, three days after Mr Lawrence was killed.
The retired police officer told the court: "Dobson said no, he was at home all night studying. He arrived home from college at 5.30pm, that his mother and father were indoors at the time. He said that he did not know the victim, he had heard about the incident from the papers."
The jury was also shown police surveillance photographs of Dobson and Norris outside a house in Bournbrook Road in Eltham, and of Norris outside Southwark Police Station in May 1993, when he attended with his mother. Both men had denied knowing each other at the time of the incident.
Witnesses who were at the bus stop on the night of the murder have told the jury that on the night of the 22nd of April, it was all so quiet and quick. One minute Stephen Lawrence and his friend Duwayne Brooks were standing at the bus stop and the next minute they were running for their lives.
The gang of white youths were so close to the fleeing pair of boys that they could not quite get away from their grasp. One witness who was waiting at the bus stop said that he hadn't heard any angry words spoken and that everything was pretty silent apart from several punches thrown and he saw one white lad kicking out at Stephen while he lay on the ground trying to protect himself. But it all took place in a virtual split second, at least only a minute and a half.
But then the cheering came. The group of white youths stood silent for a moment and then walked off quietly like nothing had happened. It was only after the group had dispersed that Stephen Lawrence' condition became apparent.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David
Norris, 35, both of south
London, have been charged
in the murder of Stephen
Lawrence. The prosecution
told the jury it will present the
above as new forensic evidence.
The trial continues.
in 1992. He was later Chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students. In 1993, he began to work for the Labour Party as National Development Officer for Youth. He then worked on the party's 1997 general election campaign before becoming the National Political Officer of the AEEU trade union.
To say that Tom Watson was anything but a hard core, left wing, outspoken, activist who dislikes Tories with a passion, would be an understatement. And, while one cannot help but admire his tenacity, nor help admiring his basic honesty, he appears to have a vendetta against the Murdoch Empire, which is shared by more people than I would care to name. And, not unreasonably so either.
However, while he was tenaciously chasing the phone hacking scandals, which was all to his credit, he became a different man when he discovered he had been followed himself. Now, while phone hacking, if proven, is an offence, being followed by the media is not.
Since that discovery, dear Tom seems to have gone over-board. His startling accusation at the Parliamentary hearing where he went after James Murdoch suggesting in no uncertain words, 'Murdoch was a Mafia Boss running a criminal organization' is a statement he could not have made - without being sued - in any other environment except under the protection of 'Parliamentary Privilege.'
Even if he did say what many may be secretly thinking, he went too far when he did and in so doing, did himself and his career far more harm than he could ever do to James Murdoch. Tainted as Murdoch may be, he's rich, Tom Watson is not, and here... probably lies the problem!
Tom Watson MP is not an angry young man, but appears to have - almost overnight - become a very cross 'Middle Aged' bully of a man. A man seeking a few minutes of fame by getting the opportunity to cross examine members of what could be called, 'the most powerful Media Group in the world.'
Watson's background is unremarkable and he has been a left wing activist since he was at university where he was elected President of the Students' Union
One could be excused for presuming that Rupert Murdoch and his highly skilled media and publicity team would so dearly love this whole affair of hacking and blagging to just - go away. Just as some of the celebrities wished to have happen after being harrassed and followed by the now defunct NoW squad. But, that isn't going to happen any time soon. However, with the ongoing Leveson inquiry unearthing daily media mischief, one raises the question, 'will anyone connected to the News of the World scandal ever get a fair trial?'
And, while we pontificate on that very poignant point, could this be called some form of retribution in itself? With the tabloids taking daily 'justice' into their own hands by maliciously brandishing their own form of decisive punishment, by way of using scurrilous newspaper headlines to devulge possible truths behind the lies, causing grief and embarrassment to all those concerned. The tables indeed have been turned.
Now Scotland Yard has informed us that a 41 year old man has been arrested in connection with phone hacking and perverting the course of justice and is being held at South London police station.
The man was arrested in London at 07:00 GMT on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemail messages.
The Met Police's Operation Weeting is investigating the hacking of the mobile phone voicemails of public figures by the NoW newspaper, which closed its doors when the hacking scandal reached new lows over evidence that Milly Dowler, the murdered school girl, had her mobile phone messages intercepted.
Operation Weeting is meticulously working its way through about 300 million emails from News International. Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson are among those who have already been arrested as part of the inquiry. The scandal has led Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates to resign, and the NoW to close down after 168 years.
For a corporation who first denied any wrong doing in the wake of the phone hacking and NoW 'email plucking' scandal they certainly are reaching pretty deep into their over stretched pockets right now.
Celebrities and politicians have each seen their bank balances swell by anything up to £130,000 for the intrusion. News International's bill alone is heading for the £10 million mark and could exceed that more than two fold as more victims come forward with possible links to the hacking scandal. Not that anyone in the hierarchical quarters of News International will be living on bread and water any time soon, however, when you also ad up the massive hit to their reputation, plus the fact they have agreed to pay all legal costs with this entire saga carrying on into the years rather than counting the months, it will, in the end, be a devastatingly huge blow to their coffers.
At the Leveson inquiry we have heard how actors were surveilled, pursued and harrassed in a sustained effort to get a juicy lead to anything newsworthy going on in their lives - outside of the public bubble. This complete disregard for privacy went unabated for years. One could say that the death of Princess Diana highlighted just what depths and intensity news hounds would stoop to.
Still, even after that horrendous tragedy the news gatherers went unremitted
and today we are seeing 37 awards to victims being paid out which is being suggested, is just the 'tip of the iceberg.' Police who investigated the voicemail interceptions by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, hired by NoW, found 5,800 names in his notebooks. They believe aproximately 800 of these names may have been victims of hacking. Fewer than 1% of the people who were hacked have settled their cases. A high court judge re-iterated that the Murdoch owned company had made "an admission of sorts" - one would presume the payouts alone would be voicing that very same opinion.
Blame it on the current economic climate or the 'Angry Young Man' principle, but 2012 has by no means started off in a positive note.
Over the Christmas and New Year period every time one switched on the television, yet another body was found dead. There has been no age or even sex discrimination at all. Whether random attacks with goalless motives or a carefully planned agenda, it leaves one at pains to see the UK changing so
much with a comprehension that it is in dire need of a monumental shakeup.
According to statistics the murder rate in England and Wales rose by 5% last year to 636 but overall crime remained stable or even fell despite the August riots, according to Home Office figures. Quarterly crime figures reveal a worrying rise in robbery including a 10% rise in robberies at knifepoint. Do these figures show a sign of desperation or, an easy way out.
However, 2012 has seen a murdered couple who were found dead in their home in Birmingham by their son, a policeman. Postmortem examinations revealed that both died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, each sustaining a number of blows. Betty Yates, a 77 year old retired school teacher, was attacked with her own walking stick and stabbed to death in her cottage. Investigations are still ongoing looking into the cause of a fire that killed four children from the same family ranging in age from 19, 4 and 2 years of age following a party to celebrate their mother's 37th birthday. A 51-year-old man who has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after his oil tanker crashed into a bungalow and burst into flames. The tanker driver fled the scene shortly after. And these are but a few. Have we all become so benign to taking a life? Has our remote controlled lives taught us this?
- Anne Hunt -
- Anne Hunt -
- Alan White -
- Anne Hunt -
- Anne Hunt -
- Susan Dean -
The latest saga in the political party's 'Dash for Cash' shows just how sleazy 'party policy making' and the topping up of a party's funding kitty can be.
Last year we saw, in all it's gory detail, mindless Sarah Ferguson -
'dash for cash' - promising suitable Tom, Dicks and interested parties
access to her 'Very Important Ex-husband.' The same description of 'mindless' could also be attached to the 'Now' Ex-Tory co-treasurer
Peter Cruddas who, in his latest 'sales' video, displayed nothing more
than a crude attempt in extracting - what could be easily seen as petty
cash to some - and, yet fortunes to others, donations from the weighty pockets of prospective donors. For what? To dine and/or get close to the man at the top of the political spectrum, with the aim of surreptitiously maneuvering certain policies that could, unintentionally, swing in their
favour and therefore, be rather beneficial to the kindly donor's business interests. All vague, but stealthy gambling.
None of this is new. In politics, they have all done it, so moral high-road
protestations aside, it is all a rose by any other name. Payoffs, donations,
the 'people' catch on. From MP's to Prime Ministers, how else do they
keep their parties afloat. Ask Mandelson and Blair.
So, yet another 'inquiry' will ensue. There has been 'private inquiries,'
on-going 'public inquiries, ' we all know about 'independent inquiries' and now, David Cameron has promised, this will be a 'proper inquiry.'
The fact of the matter remains, it's not what you do, it's how you go about
it. The word today is 'Swagger,' and while Peter Cruddas is not shy of a few million himself, he doesn't have Peter Mandelson's arrogant, smooth and elongated tricky tongue. Neither has he the required swagger.
Mr Cruddas was caught 'In flagrante delicto' by reporters posing as party donors who filmed him candidly explaining that, "doors to Number 10's policy committee would open for anyone donating the tidy sum of £250,000." The scripting of his text almost word for word taken from Ms Ferguson's cringe stealing and unflattering under-cover video, replacing her inebriated slurs, Cruddas with a more cocky, boastful, second-hand car salesman approach.
Lobbying is big business and while Labour - of all people - are taking the high road on this one by demanding an inquiry into Mr Cruddas' hustling, similar instances can be pointed in Labour's direction as well. Favours for cash. Donations in the 'hopes' that the almighty will turn a blind eye.
House of Cards follower, Francis Urquhart-Mandelson who served in a number of key positions under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and has been said to have been the 'key architect' in the rebranding of the Labour Party as "New Labour" and thus bringing it to its landslide victory in the 1997 general election, with his own CV of resignations and appointments speaking of certain business mechanics that could be far more damning if allowed to fully air. In other words, parliamentary privilege is just as it says on the label.
Labour has requested a full disclosure of dinner guests ever entertained at Mr Cameron's Downing Street home with Ed Miliband saying that the matter can not be "swept under the carpet" and a "proper independent investigation" was needed. He reiterated by saying, "We need to know what happened. It all must be fully disclosed because it's all about the way that policy is made, and we've just had a Budget in which the tax rate has been cut at the top of the income scale. We need to know what access was paid for, if access was paid for, and what contributions were made and the interaction between the prime minister, the chancellor and Conservative Party donors."
The words of Mr Cruddas were indeed crude and without the Urquhart panache he offered to the posing donors "premier league" access to party leaders, including private dinners with Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. He hinted that such a serious contribution could have their political points of view fed back to the party's policy committee. Historically, the irony of this scenario is what all previous Governments have adopted to raise funds. After all, is this not what UNITE's hierarchy strives for?
So, am I saying that a hefty contribution could ever really guarantee access to the PM? "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment."
- Anne Hunt -