The dark soul of UK Incorporated was exposed in glorious fashion yet again yesterday in the contrasting responses from the political elites in Westminster to two big stories.
An Ambassador’s candid memos describing the Donald Trump Government as “inept”, “dysfunctional”, “insecure” and “clumsy” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/08/pm-has-full-faith-in-kim-darroch-but-rejects-his-view-of-trump led to politicians stampeding to available microphones to condemn the leaks and demand urgent and criminal investigations to establish the culprit.
Whoever is found guilty will be condemned to 10 years solitary confinement in the Tower of London with a daily diet of only bread and water or forced to proof read Theresa May’s inevitable memoirs (cruel beyond belief) for daring to let the world know what intelligent professionals with years of experience actually think about Donald Trump. How dare the truth be aired in public!
If anyone is qualified to conclude that the Trump Administration is “inept” and “dysfunctional” surely it is the Washington based UK Ambassador Kim Darroch? Why he minced his words nobody knows…
Conservative Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, told MPs he had written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to “ask that a criminal investigation also be opened into the leak”.
And Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan said police could be involved if evidence of wrongdoing over the leak is found, telling the Commons:
“If evidence of criminality is found, then yes, the police could be involved” https://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/national/17756803.calls-police-investigate-trump-leak-controversy/.
Meanwhile on the pavement outside the High Court in London veteran anti-landmine campaigner and former model and wife of famous singer Paul McCartney, Heather Mills, announced the latest in a long line of court settlements involving News Group Newspapers (NGN), publishers of the now defunct rag, News of the World, and the struggling red top, the Sun for illegal phone hacking, invasion of privacy, libel and information theft.
She said it was the largest media libel settlement in British history and it was a class action involving her, her sister, the singer Elton John, the actress Elizabeth Hurley and 96 other individuals who were subject to illegal phone hacking and invasion of privacy by the Rupert Murdoch owned media giant.
NGN has had to set aside £14.7 million in its 2018 accounts alone to settle illegal phone hacking claims and has reportedly spent over £400 million since 2011 https://mailchi.mp/hackinginquiry/phone-hacking-payout-makes-legal-history?e=857403d353 to pay off claimants and avoid a court case where executives of the shamed company would be compelled under oath to admit not just how widespread the criminality was but who ordered the criminal activity and knew about it. Yesterday was the 4th time in the last 18 months alone that NGN’s lawyers have been ordered to settle claims on the eve of trials to avoid the embarrassment of evidence being heard in open court? Hundreds of other claims against the company will now proceed.
Heather Mills spoke eloquently outside the court about a process which has lasted over ten years and ruined her reputation and many relationships within her life as NGN pursued a concerted, conscious and “criminal, targeted smear campaign” https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jul/08/heather-mills-receives-apology-and-payout-in-phone-hacking-case against her, her family and her friends. She was speaking on behalf of the 100 people involved in her action and indirectly on behalf of the thousands who were victims of criminality which was described as “Mafia like” and conducted on an “industrial scale” during the phone hacking trial of 2014 which involved senior executives and former editors like Rebekah Brooks (Wade) and Andy Coulson https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jun/25/-sp-phone-hacking-trial-rebekah-brooks-rupert-murdoch.
That trial followed on the heels of the phone hacking scandal involving NGN illegally hacking thousands of phones including that of a dead schoolgirl in pursuit of a story while hampering a police investigation attempting to discover her whereabouts before she was murdered.
Milly Dowler’s abduction and murder shocked everyone with a heart but prompted the News of the World to seek a story by illegal and foul means regardless of the consequences for the police operation.
The Leveson inquiry was a judicial public inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the British press following the News International phone hacking scandal including the hacking of Milly’s phone. It was chaired by Lord Justice Leveson who was appointed in July 2011. What was uncovered was a stinking sewer of criminality that ran through Fleet Street. NGN was the biggest illegal gang on the street but Mirror Group Newspapers was also guilty and swam in the same corrupt and illegal sewer as NGN.
Leveson Two was promised as the first inquiry was limited in its scope due to the on-going criminal investigation and potential court cases involving journalists and executives at NGN and other papers. Leveson was convinced that a thorough investigation into police corruption and criminality within public office induced by NGN and others was necessary to expose the full extent of the crimes and root out the guilty executives, police officers and public officials.
David Cameron prior to the General Election of 2010 promised that Inquiry would take place. Under pressure from newspaper moguls he broke that promise.
And herein lays the nub of Establishment hypocrisy and privilege designed to protect the rich and powerful from proper public accountability and the confines of the law.
Tory MP’s were lining up by the dozen yesterday to bump their gums about the Ambassador Memo leaks and demanding criminal enquiries and action if evidence of criminality was uncovered. Meanwhile in the real world NGN was paying out millions more in an exercise that has cost them over £400 million to date to prevent a courtroom from hearing the extent of instructions and knowledge amongst the executives at the highest levels within NGN of the organised criminality involving phone hacking and information theft. Where was the queue of Tory MPs demanding Leveson Two to uncover how high up the NGN chain the criminal conspiracy reached?
The truth is NGN and the executives who benefited most from the “industrial scale” and “Mafia like” criminality which polluted journalism within the UK for decades have been allowed to operate above and beyond the law. They are rich, powerful and well connected to the political elites. They have been allowed to conspire unlawfully without fear of punishment because they are rich, powerful and therefore influential. It is a scandal which requires to be exposed.
The next time you read a knocking story about Jeremy Corbyn bear in mind he is on record supporting a Leveson Two enquiry. The powerful media Dons within NGN have too much to lose from that Inquiry. They must stop him getting into office at any and all costs. Murdoch may not be a UK citizen and his NGN Empire may be less powerful as readership of the Sun diminishes steadily but like an aging Mafia boss he will fight hard to cover his criminality and protect his racket. Leveson Two is needed to shine a light on the darkest practices of Murdoch and other media groups in the UK. I support the Hacked Off campaign calling for that Inquiry promise to be honoured. I invite you to check out their website and do likewise today https://hackinginquiry.org/.
This article was written by our Political Adviser, Tommy Sheridan and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole