Yesterday the Sun came under fire from England batsman Ben Stokes for a front page story Stokes called “utterly disgusting” and the “lowest form of journalism” after the newspaper despicably delved into his family’s past with no public interest justification. To add insult to injury, the journalist responsible for the 31-year-old story on the Stokes’ family is a convicted criminal who the Sun welcomed back to the newspaper, Nick Parker.
Alleged phone-hacker Nick Parker was tried under Operation Elveden, the police investigation into payments by journalists to public officials. He was charged with three counts of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office relating to payments made to a police officer and prison officer. He was also charged as part of the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Tuleta after receiving a mobile phone belonging to a Labour MP. Parker was welcomed back to the Sun newspaper in 2015.
It seems normal rules of corporate governance simply do not apply to news corporations. Victims of press abuse expressed outrage and incredulity at the reinstatement of Rebekah Brooks, who ran Rupert Murdoch’s publisher News UK in 2011 when the scandal of phone hacking engulfed the company, as chief executive in 2015.
An IPSO complaint has been made about the front page story. It remains to be seen if IPSO will even consider the complaint, given that they cherry-pick at their discretion on the basis of who has brought them. And we know if it is upheld, the likelihood of a front page correction for a front page inaccuracy is very slim.
Do not expect any admission of guilt or apology from the Sun of their own volition either. Here is what the Sun editor said about a previous IPSO ruling against him: “I don’t accept we made an error… and I don’t think, were I doing this again, I would act in any way differently.”
We are in the same position we were at the time of the phone-hacking scandal. The same people are in the same jobs, resulting in the same gutter journalism.
But the fight isn’t over. The Online Harms Bill is our greatest opportunity since Leveson to change the rigged system. We are currently campaigning to ensure any plans for social media regulation applies to newspapers and news websites too. It is time to level the playing field – your tweets should not be more regulated than the Sun.
We need your help to keep campaigning. We are appealing for supporters to give a small, regular gifts of £5-£10 a month to help secure our future. Thanks to the generous supporters who have already pledged to give monthly – we are immensely grateful.