Society of Editors: ‘verdicts show there was never anything wrong’


If the News UK verdict response was bad, it has strong competition from today’s statement by the Society of Editors, a body that clearly believes that it is the press that is the victim here.

“After the biggest police investigation in history and a near eight month trial…’

This is an attempt to portray the prosecution as disproportionate. Trying powerful people is always expensive, not least because they can afford expensive legal teams – Murdoch in this case paid for the biggest defence team in British history. Does the Society of Editors believe we should not bother to prosecute rich and powerful people because of this cost factor?

‘…the fact that the jury has come back after a week of deliberating with mainly not guilty verdicts puts the whole of the saga into some kind of context.’

Eh? What about the four journalists who pleaded guilty to hacking? Add Coulson and that is five. Add the two already convicted and that’s seven. One ex-editor, three former news editors and three others, all guilty. In a context where the Society of Editors embraced the ‘one rogue reporter’ myth for years, that is pretty bad. And then there is the samll matter that one defendant has pleaded guilty to hacking phones for the Sunday Mirror…

“No-one condones any journalist convicted of a crime but the practices of the whole of the press have been questioned.’

How terrible. When one teacher or social worker or doctor does something wrong, of course, the Society of Editors‘ members would never dream of questioning the practices of the whole profession.

‘Nearly three years ago the Press was on trial and that led to the Leveson inquiry.’

Damn right. Hacking the phones of victims of crime, serially libelling vulnerable people, stealing personal data, lying, bullying – and not just at one paper. As Leveson found, they were ‘wreaking havoc in the lives of innocent people.’ But are they sorry? Is the Society of Editors sorry? no.

‘After a hugely expensive investigation and criminal trial …’

Here we go again. It was expensive. It has convicted the former editor of what was the biggest-selling paper in the country. Would the Society of Editors prefer it if the prosecuting authorities simply said: ‘We won’t prosecute Murdoch employees because he is so rich’?

‘…the jury concluded that what was suggested to be a major conspiracy at the top of News International was not all that it seemed.’

Again eh? Not all it seemed to the Society of Editors perhaps. Is this an attempt to suggest that there was not wholesale hacking and abuse of hundreds of people? It can’t be, because that is what happened.

“The only good to come out of all of this is that the Press will now have a new, more powerful complaints and regulatory system – the Independent Press Standards Organisation – with powers to investigate and fine newspapers if necessary.’

After all that hypocrisy, it ends with a gross misrepresentation. IPSO is not new. It is not more powerful than the utterly discredited PCC ( which the Society of Editors was still defending a few weeks ago). It is not a regulator (because it will not actively uphold a code). Yes it has nominal powers to investigate and fine, but in the same way that we all have powers to cut our limbs off – we could, but we don’t. IPSO’s ‘powers’ are an illusion.

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June 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm

And Paul Horrocks has been on BBC News just now wilfully misrepresenting IPSO’s “independence” and its closeness to the recommendations of Leveson. These fictions require urgent public rebuttals! The fact of the matter is that the Press still thinks its should be allowed to mark its own homework when, in any other area of public life, they would be screaming for an independent regulator.

Dave clarksonreply
June 24, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Oh do put a sock in it! Your whole organisation has been peddling the lie that Rebekah was guilty. Now it turns out she is innocent of all charges. Why not apologise to her, and to her husband?
You should be feeling quite ashamed tonight, you guys.

June 26, 2014 at 9:58 am
– In reply to: Dave clarkson

Oh come on. Being found not guilty and being innocent are 2 different things.

Dave Clarksonreply
July 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm
– In reply to: brian

That really is too bad. The poor woman has had to spend the best part of two years being accused of all sorts of things, gets hauled before a court, millions of pounds and top lawyers ranged against her, and there is……no evidence. At least none that convinced the jury.

It seems reasonable to say “Sorry Rebekkah….we got it wrong”. Rather than to infer she is still guilty.

That is the attitude of a cad sir.

June 24, 2014 at 11:20 pm

I feel ill to think that these people (society of editors ) think they own the public to treat as they feel fit and to give voice to their corrupt views as if it were the truth. I feel happier that there is Hacked Off to be the focus for decency, honour and integrity in journalism. There is yet hope for a civilised society.

June 25, 2014 at 8:44 am

Murdoch employee Louise Mensch showing her true colours (although no one who witnessed the unedifying spectacle of her schmoozing James Murdoch will be at all surprised):

Morgan might be advised to keep it zipped given the forthcoming legal actions and further investigations against the Mirror Group, not to mention the fact that there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of him boasting of phone hacking and practically admitting it in his autobiography too.

June 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

With breathtaking hypocrisy, Trevor Kavanagh asserts in today’s Sun that the phone-hacking allegations were used to “smear” newspapers! Is this man so utterly delusional that he believes that there was no widespread criminality? Or just that it’s The Sun’s job to smear the public, not the police’s job to smear The Sun…?

Dave Rreply
June 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The malign symbiosis that continues to both infect and link the “powerful” in sections of the newspaper industry and high politics will live on until someone with real moral courage decides we can combine a free press with a responsible press. All that is required is the will. Lord Leveson showed the way and politicians cobbled together some sort of a response that is the best we can expect…….for now.
Meanwhile, as Mrs Brooks no doubt swans off to a glittering career as a celeb journalist and commentator, she might like to ponder on the possibility that, in the court of public opinion, people have a right to their own strong feelings about her.
Kavanagh is no hypocrite – he just sold his soul and reputation to Murdoch. He is not the first and will not be the last defender of free speech to do this. Of course, Murdoch is not the only buyer.
As for the Society of Editors, why would anybody give credence to the utterances of this bunch of no hopers whose sole aim appears to make those they “represent” look like a collection of cretins. They deserve better.
Given that the press know very well that, given time, every story has its day, I wonder who is hacking (or similar),whom right now.
I also wonder who is being bullied and coerced in the name of a free press right now.

Dave clarksonreply
July 13, 2014 at 8:22 am

Dan, it really is WRONG of you to still be accusing Rebekkah Brooks after she has been tried by a jury and found totally innocent. That is the attitude of a fascist regime!
And surely now, when the press has been shown to be the God Guys in the paedophilia. Scandal in parliament, and with celebrities, it is time to concede that a Free Press is a good thing.
We now have IPSO which looks like being a good institution, independent of government, and run independently. So a nice resolution.
Obviously some people will never want this saga to end, often because they are paid to keep it going, and Hacked Off is their actual job, but I think most reasonable people would agree that it is time to move on.

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