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.