Thursday, 14 July 2011

Phone hacking and News International - prepared speech

Due to Government business and Gordon browns long intervention, I like many was unable to speak but this is what I had prepared)

Mr Speaker I wish to address three short points in all of this. The
Non Disclosure agreement between News International and Glen Mulcaire which is troubling and needs to discussed.

Briefly the issue of Gordon Brown and the Sun’s response.

And finally the wider immorality of a bad press where news equates exclusively to salacious tabloid journalism and is part of this corrosive chase to the bottom.

I am deeply concerned about the comments that a non disclosure agreement was agreed between NI and the silent man at the very epicentre of hacking so far, Glen Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for News International and quite possibly others and who has admitted to hacking phones. An agreement that was allegedly struck at the time of his conviction in 2006.

I am concerned because I believe this agreement is unethical. It seems acceptable for the media to have particular freedoms but where it affects the press those freedoms are bought and sold.

Deep worrying questions remain.

Did Glen Mulcaire take payment?

Is it ethical that NoTW made these payments?

Should it be the case that payments can be made to people involved in criminal activities, crucially to ensure they remain silent?

Is it not the case that that ‘paid’ silence has run contrary to public interest and that this type of behaviour must be considered by the inquiries?

Why did NI take such a draconian step?

I am sure that such an agreement would be premeditated by a grave concern at News International about the gravity and implication of such information should it find its way in to the public domain.

Mr Mulcaire’s silence over the last 5 years is quite striking (like a gangsters code of silence)

If such an agreement exists then it must have been with the authority of those on the highest pay grade. Andy Coulson and Rebecca Wade.

I find it incomprehensible that such an agreement, besides being unethical, could and would not have been done without people at the top being in possession of the full facts in order to justify such a step.

An inquisition into the facts behind this non-disclosure agreement may illuminate not only what actually went on with Glen Mulcaire, but the just who knew what at News International.

Is it now not the time that News International released Glen Mulcaire from any agreement they may have with him then he can explain to the public what he knows about this scandal.

I want to turn to Gordon Brown and the Suns response briefly.

Accused over their front-page splash revealing confidential details on the health of Gordon Brown’s disabled son, The Sun has resorted to invoking its relationship with a charity in a desperate bid to stem the backlash.

But a source from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has described allusions to a formal relationship as “misleading”.

On the paper’s website The Sun boasts about increasing “national understanding” of the condition by working “in partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust”.

But describing The Sun’s claims as “misleading” the charity denied any formal partnership and emphasised that the same information on the disease was provided to other media outlets.

Even today despite everything that has happened; the News International has failed to recognise the public anger over their immorality

Clearly The Sun and the Murdock empire believe it’s acceptable to publish confidential medical details of a four month old baby — provided your paper can take credit for in an increase in charity donations.

There seems to be battle lines being drawn albeit subtly. Elements of the newspaper industry suggesting the News of the World was a great investigative paper.

This may true in it's salacious assault on immorality and sensationalism of crime but both stand rather ironic now reflecting a shallowness of righteousness exposing a rather more commercial reason de'tra that seems to exist at News Corp.

Politicians of all shades have bed fellowed Rupert and Co, partly as part of the democratic process but more recently in the age of neo-liberalism and multi-national corporations and it has become a diseases with some politicians living off their ‘prince of darkness’ reputations.

The reality is most people think the News of the World is a salubrious title of little merit outside crass enjoyment.

I suspect most readers cast doubt even on the accuracy of its journalism. A survey of public found that British newspapers are by far the most distrusted with 79% of the UK public who “tend not to trust” the press and with just 18% who “tend to trust” them. There’s not much further for the reputation of the newspaper media to fall.

The terms of reference of a newspaper/media inquiry are widening with each escalation in the scandal. I think it is the time to ask whether a magazine that prints little news, but plenty of bums, tits and chests is a newspaper? Let alone a good newspaper.

It hasn't served our national interest and we need to look at what is our national interest as far as the media are concerned. Where are the lines?

No-one acted back in 2002 when Mrs Brooks told a Commons Committee she knew The Police had been paid. Remarkably, it was Mr Coulson the man at the centre of it at the moment who jumped to her defence to deny that had occurred.

People don't want restrictions on newspaper reporting. They do want easier, cheaper access to litigious justice with stiff penalties, greater than the original offence. Front page defamation should be reflected by an equal or greater sized apology and financial recompense.

I believe it is time to question the morality of the media.

It is my view we need a clear separation of news and tittle-tattle. Of news and non-news. That there is a TV standard in newsprint.

For too long a story is written by choosing salacious edits to promote sensationalism and the defence quote printed is out of context, at the end miss representative.

I think there needs to be consideration of taxation and tax breaks that differentiate responsible news and non-news.

There needs to be a code of conduct not just on morality and criminality, but editorial standards but possibly standards in presentation, typography and advertisements.