It’s been quite a week.
Firstly, I’ll take today’s dramatic announcement of the closure of the News of the World.
On the face of it, this was a stunning announcement. The News of the World is one of our oldest newspapers and has, at times, been the largest selling newspaper in the world. Four out of ten people read it on a Sunday. To close it, is a momentous move.
But let’s not be fooled.
On 28th June, News International announced that they were merging together their newspaper operations into a seven day operation. At a stroke, the News of the World closure creates a convenient opportunity to save shedloads of money by having a seven-day Sun.
The domain names www.sunonsunday.com and www.sunonsunday.co.uk were registered two days ago. In these days of computerisation, the name of a newspaper can be changed in a split second.
Secondly, this move conveniently keeps News International “ahead of the curve” on the developing disastrous hacking/bribes story, something James Murdoch is very keen on. Keeping ahead of the curve, that is.
But the inexorable march, albeit four years late, of Inspector Knacker of the Yard will continue. There are reports that Andy Coulson will be in earnest discussions with the Old Bill tomorrow.
Why on earth would Murdoch sacrifice Rebekah Brooks now? He can keep her resignation for an (even more) rainy day. If she is culpable, the police will find the evidence in the pile of emails they should have gone through in 2006.
During the expenses scandal, people generally were impatient that no parliamentarians immediately got “clapped in irons”. Well, several did eventually. Inspector Plod gets there in the end. His unstoppable progress makes the wait even more painful for those with reason to be nervous. (It can’t be very comfortable being Margaret Moran these days. “Was that a knock on the door, or the wind?”)
I have reasonable faith that the police will get to the bottom of all this stuff, and that we will see a string of convictions. It’s just a matter of time.
Inquiries? Oh all right then.
But we won’t have an inquiry into, perhaps, the most important thing. That is, the judgment of David Cameron. He took on Andy Coulson after the man had actually resigned as editor of the News of the World after phone hacking revelations. Wasn’t that a bit of a clue? The man resigned. Der.
And yet, despite evidence piling up, Cameron made Coulson his communications chief in Downing Street and refused continuous calls for his sacking.
It’s the judgment of our Prime Minister which should be the subject of the biggest inquiry of all.
This is the man who is good friends with Rebekah Brooks and the rest of the Chipping Norton Set.
What all this does provide is the opportunity for the LibDems to do some good. Whatever you say about the LibDems, you’d be hard pressed to find any favours we have done Rupert Murdoch, or vice versa. We come to this with cleanish hands, and therefore can be a force for good in deciding the next steps as the UK painfully rebalances its freedom of speech, the right to privacy, and the power of the media.
But one thing is amply clear. News International lost control of the News of the World about ten years ago. This does not bode very well for them being able to control BSkyB. News International is too big. It needs to be broken down, not made bigger with the 100% ownership of BSkyB.Tweet