News UK, the hurriedly-renamed company that used to be News International but is still owned by Rupert Murdoch, issued a statement in response to today’s verdicts that conspicuously fails to meet the needs of the moment.
It begins: ‘We said long ago, and repeat today, that wrongdoing occurred, and we apologised for it.’
Does that sound sorry? No, it sounds like ‘Leave us alone.’ To think that their newspapers complained that Maria Miller wasn’t sorry enough…
A total of seven employees have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to hacking the phones of thousands of people over several years – people who include bereaved parents, 7/7 bombing victims and relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. they can do better than this.
It goes on: ‘We have been paying compensation to those affected…’
They don’t have any choice about that, yet those people had to sue, and to endure years of flat denials and legal ducking and weaving from the company.
‘… and have cooperated with investigations.’
That is what people have to do in this country under the law. And they did it only reluctantly, after failing to cooperate for years.
‘We made changes in the way we do business to help ensure wrongdoing like this does not occur again.’
No, they have flatly refused to do what Lord Justice Leveson said they had to do to ensure this doesn’t happen again – and what every party in Parliament agrees they should do, and their victims, and the public.
‘And we are strong supporters of the Independent Press Standards Organisation that is expected to begin work this autumn, serving as a watchdog on the industry in the public interest.’
IPSO only satisfies 12 of the 38 Leveson recommendations. It is the PCC all over again. In fact News UK, far from being sorry, is raising two fingers to the public, the judge, the victims and Parliament.
‘Out of respect for the fact that further legal proceedings will occur, we will have no further comment at this time.’
What this really means is: ‘We can’t defend this position so we are going to lie low now in the hope the row will blow over.’
That must not happen.