Protempore – Issue 78


Posted by in August's Magazine

Doesn’t it make a difference when the sun’s out? The hangover that you knew was on its way because you could hear it rumbling in the distance in the dead of night isn’t quite as bad as you thought it was going to be once you throw those curtains wide (thanks, Mr Guy Garvey). The bills that fall through the door are suddenly bathed in light from your window rather than left to fester under a pile of dust. The bus driver actually says “good morning” as you step aboard his magic charabanc rather than greeting you with a scratch of his tattoos and a grunt. And when megalomaniac press barons start to see their ugly empire crumbling all around them, you actually think that maybe, just maybe, the world is taking a turn for the better.

That’s right folks by the time you read this, Rupert Murdoch and his band of sick muckrakers will have appeared before a House of Commons select committee to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal which has dominated the front page of the newspapers for the last few weeks. You will, of course, have to discount the News of the World from that list of papers as it has been closed down, a shrewd move by the old Aussie nosey parker in a desperate attempt to cover up the worst excesses of his ‘journalists’? We’ll see. The recent debate has centred on the phone hacking but there is also a debate to be had on our politician’s relationships with newspaper moguls and the police, who are also up to their truncheons in all of this. But let’s stick to the phone hacking for now.

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One of the arguments used by the Murdoch family (and I use the term ‘family’ here in the same way that I would if I was writing an article about the Manson family) is that this sort of thing has been going on for ages and that all newspapers in the UK and abroad are involved to some degree or another. I find this hard to believe. I don’t doubt that journalists who work for newspapers outwith the Murdoch empire have some less than scrupulous tactics for drumming up stories but if they really are as bad as the scumbags who hacked phones for Andy Coulson et al, then surely Murdoch, his son James and Rebekah Brooks (one time editor of the now defunct News of the Screws) will be able to finger them? But wait a minute.

Hoovering up notes
Brooks has claimed that she knew nothing of the hacking while she was editor at the paper and if Murdoch is going to grass all of these hacks up, is he going to go to the police? Well, he certainly knows enough of them personally having paid huge backhanders to make sure that police investigations into his dirty businesses were completely botched. I doubt that they’ve got the bottle to squeal because that would open up a huge Pandora’s Box. (‘Pandora’s Box’. Wasn’t that a headline on the front of the News of the World a while back?).

We already know that the rats involved in actually doing the phone hacking, principally the ‘private investigator’ Glenn Mulcaire, hacked into thousands of telephones, but the case of murder victim Milly Dowler really does tell us everything that we need to know about how these risible individuals go about their business.

When Milly went missing, the News of the World’s journalists hacked directly into the voicemail of the missing girl’s own phone. As her friends and parents called and left messages imploring Milly to get in touch with them, the paper was listening and recording their every private word. But the journalists at the paper then encountered a problem.

Milly’s voicemail box filled up and would accept no more messages. Apparently thirsty for more information from more voicemails, the paper intervened – and deleted the messages that had been left in the first few days after her disappearance. When her friends and family called again and discovered that her voicemail had been cleared, they concluded that this must have been done by Milly herself and, therefore, that she must still be alive. But she was not.

It is impossible to imagine how Milly’s family and friends must have felt when they found out that the hope they were so desperately looking for had been falsely created by a gang of sick journalists hungry to sell newspapers.

Maybe you like to read about footballers and their schoolboy shenanigans. Maybe you also like to know which celebrities are currently hoovering their hard earned pound notes up their nose. Maybe you think that everyone’s fair game when it comes to selling newspapers, including missing schoolgirls.

That’s certainly what people like the Murdochs, Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson, and Glenn Mulcaire think. Hopefully, their days of darkening the world are over for good. (Are you including ‘Digger’ Murdoch there, Protempore?! – Ed).

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