Hacked Off responds to phone hacking trial sentencing

Newspapers must implement the Leveson recommendations for effective self-regulation or the public and journalists remain at risk from unethical newspaper conduct, Hacked Off confirmed as it responded to the sentencing today of Andy Coulson, Greg Miskiw, Neville Thurlbeck, James Weatherup and Glenn Mulcaire.

Hacked Off Executive Director Joan Smith commented on the sentencing:

“No-one can take any pleasure from the sentences handed down today on News of the World journalists. But these sentences are the inevitable outcome of a colossal failure of corporate governance within News International that allowed a culture of criminal behaviour to fester for many years.

“It has taken far too long for the thousands of innocent victims of this industrial-scale criminal conspiracy to see its perpetrators brought to justice. It is only the beginning of the process. Those victims will insist that no stone is left unturned to get to the full truth of what happened – no matter how high up the scandal went. We now need a proper independent and effective press regulator that actually works for victims and the public in preventing this sort of institutional disregard for the rights of others.

“The press industry’s self-regulator failed to work because, as always, such regulators are controlled by the big newspapers they are supposed to oversee. The Press Complaints Commission – much like its latest incarnation, IPSO – was designed from the outset to be powerless to investigate, powerless to sanction and thus powerless to prevent unethical, even criminal, behaviour.

“Even as journalists are being jailed, some newspapers refuse to accept that they must change their culture, or that they must implement Leveson’s recommendations for effective, independent regulation. Until they do, the public at large – and the journalists who work for these companies – remain at risk from unethical and unlawful newspaper conduct, without adequate remedy.”

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July 4, 2014 at 10:30 am

PCC/IPSO would never have investigated the extent of the hacking, let alone imposed any meaningful sanctions on the perpetrators. Proof of this came in the mitigation plea from Coulson’s barrister who claimed Coulson didn’t realise hacking was illegal, he thought it was “only” a breach of he Editor’s Code. In other words, Coulson was content to repeatedly breach the code over a period of several years, content to encourage his staff to breach it, and content to publish stories that were obtained through multiple breaches of the code. Clearly Coulson knew that he had nothing to fear from the PCC. This is what happens when the Press is allowed to mark its own homework.

July 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm

18 months seems like a very lenient sentence. Will Hacked Off be writing to the Atourney General to register a formal complaint about such lenient sentencing? It’s my understanding that an official complaint needs to be made before a sentence can be reviewed.

July 4, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I think Andy Coulson has been made a “scape goat” and Rebekah Brookes walks free. Something not right about the Judgement. Yes they did wrong understand that but she walks free. Not right.

Nigel Scottreply
July 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I have emailed the Attorney General because I think Andy Coulson’s sentence is too lenient.

July 4, 2014 at 9:33 pm

The Mulcaire sentence is particularly disturbing and suggests MPS approached the judge (it’s know as putting a ‘text’ in) asking for a reduced sentence in consideration for some kind of cooperation. It’s hard to see how a repeat offender got off with six months suspended and community service for what he did otherwise.

One explanation for this might be that Mulcaire is rumoured (and in fairness to him it’s still a long way from being substantiated) to have done a lot of ‘off the books’ work for MPS prior to his recruitment by NI. This allegedly involved monitoring cell phone conversations under the supervision of senior members of both CIB3 and the NCS. Keeping him out of prison would certainly be one way of ensuring this was kept under wraps.

Phone Hacking Trial: Coulson, Miskiw, Mulcaire, Thurlbeck and Weatherup are sentenced and the press reaction | Inforrm's Blogreply
July 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm

[…] Hacked Off Responds to Phone-hacking Trial Sentencing – Hacked Off […]

July 7, 2014 at 11:29 am

John, Mulcaire has enough dirt on enough people who matter to ensure he’ll be looked after for the rest of his life. He’s already taken a substantial pay off from NI for not publishing his memoirs, he legal expenses were covered by NI and I’m sure the lenient sentence was part of a deal to keep whatever he was doing for the police quiet.

What I don’t understand here is why Hacked Off are complaining about Coulson’s sentence but not Mulcaire’s. The other thing that escapes me is why Hacked Off are not making a bigger issue about the clumsy attempts to bury to original hacking investigation and the lies that were given to excuse this. Whatever the media did here they were clearly being assisted or protected by the Met and it was only the sterling efforts of the Guardian that revealed this. We seem to have dual standards here – at least one senior Met officer clearly conspired with NI but he’s now been allowed to happily retire and go to live on the other side of the world.

John Wreply
July 8, 2014 at 9:20 am

Unfortunately the ultimate core of this problem is the public’s voracious appetite for grubby dirt and petty scandal. We can safely assume that corporate entities in a competitive profit based business will eventually resort to the lowest tactics to obtain such information and gain the edge over each other – virtually every institution exhibits this trait at some point…banking for example.
There is a disconnect between the public’s desire for such information and the resultant law-breaking and personal harm it causes. The public unintentionally endorse such despicable invasions of privacy by being the consumer of such a vast market dealing in gossip and ‘secrets’ but we don’t have a ‘public’ conscious or conduit of accountability to recognise that we ‘get the media we deserve’ etc. Coulson et al are criminals and are unethical – in the same way that other criminals stoop to depths to provide people with what they want in order to make money. The criminal or immoral agent profits and the public’s petty desires are satiated with no sense of responsibility for the ‘culture’ they endorse.
I just think it’s sad that we moan about the corruption and illicit behaviours exhibited by some institutions but I honestly think they’re just reflecting back at society our actual values.
Rant over.

Tony Raynorreply
July 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Whilst I do not condone this law breaking it is sad that so many legitimate journalists (think local rags & trade publications) have been tarnished by association. I never get tired of playing the “Hacked off” game at http://www.abbeytele.com/hacked-off/

Dave clarksonreply
July 9, 2014 at 4:14 am

At heart, the dispute was an unholy alliance between certain sleazy celebrities who didn’t want negative stories published about them and politicians furious that their expenses abuses had been written up. So they turned on the press and set up the Leveson enquiry with an elderly judge to teach the journalists a lesson.

A year later, what have we got? Half a dozen celebs on their way to jail for pedophile activities which would never have seen light of day if it wasn’t for a free press. Plus a long list of perverted politicians, and an Establishment cover up which only a free press has told us about.

If Leveson had had his way, we would still not know about Jimmy Savile, Rolf, and the rest of them. Let alone the existence of the missing parliamentary files.

Isn’t it about time that Leveson and hacked off put their hands up and said, “Sorry guys, we screwed up. We got it wrong. We are ashamed of ourselves”

That’s about the sum of it.

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