The perfect storm that is taking over the British powerhouses is not over yet. It only seems like a reprisal only from nature. People who were strong and powerful are falling apart left right and centre, it seems the sky has opened up and all hell has broken lose. It is no secret to anyone who runs the British government, as Fleet Street has always been dubbed as the real powerhouse of British Empire. For decades editors and writers have shaped the careers of many politicians and prime ministers. Many prime Ministers faced situations that tested their might against the mighty press. Majority of them succumbed to the manipulation of newspapers or some of them were lucky enough to manipulate and use them according to their policy.
Some prime ministers make certain mistakes even before their career could take off. On the contrary an immature person like David Cameron came very near to completely capable of destroying his political career because of the choices he made in the past and the path he takes for his future. When Prime Ministers come to a point, which makes and breaks their career, when making a fatal mistake from which there is no ultimate recovery. Ironically in recent past it has been brought through the hands of media spinners or tabloids. For Tony Blair it was through Alastair Campbell on issue of Iraq war and the weapons of mass destruction fiasco. It could be the same for Cameron through the hands of his best media friends Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. You would always notice the striking similarity in all these occasions a new prince charming to vow British masses dented and bruised lingering on towards an inevitable exit.
The domino affect started with the horrific revelations surfaced regarding the phone hacking of a teenage girl Milly Dowler by Mr. Murdoch’s journalists. It even got worse when it was revealed that the journalists from the same organisation under Murdoch hacked into the phones of families of our war dead. The first step was the closure of The News of the World. Not long after the man at the centre of this dirty media Cameron connection Andy Coulson was arrested. Andy Coulson was the director of communications at 10 Downing Street, from where he was forced to resign. Andy earlier in 2007 resigned from the post of the News of the world editor in the aftermath of royal hacking scandal.
This opened a Pandora box of resignations as one after another big names started deserting the news group. First was Tom Crone who was News of the World’s legal manager who resigned on the 13th of July. On the 15 July two key figures resigned making the case even more complicated. Rebekah Brooks the right hand lady who had been at the centre of all Murdoch business interests in UK resigned from the post of CEO at the News International. Same day Les Hinton the CEO of News Corporation’s subsidiary Dow Joes & Company resigned. On 17 July Commissioner of Metropolitan police Sir Paul Stephenson, who is Britain’s most senior police official resigned from his post. His crime was the same as of David Cameron, hiring an ex news of the world editor as his advisor Neil Wallis. Soon after that assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police John Yates resigned too.
This storm was brewing from quite a long time and the patience of politicians was running out. I believe the MPs expenses claims revelations were the tipping point and that prompted the politicians to get on an offensive foot to reveal the dirty world of tabloid journalism or what I call Murdochism. No one knew that David Cameron the charming star of British politics would be deeply involved with the people at the centre of all this dirty game.
Mr Cameron became acquainted to Rebekah Brooks through Chipping Norton set that is a gathering of people who’s who of power circles from media and other circles. Their common interest hunger for more power perfectly shared by Mr. Cameron who shared more or less the same interests as them. Another important figure present was PR fixer Matthew Freud, married to Mr Murdoch’s daughter Elisabeth. According to media reports published in the UK Mr Cameron greeted Mr. Freud “with exuberant high fives” when they bumped into each other at Rebekah Brooks’s wedding two years ago. Such was the close connection and involvement by Mr Cameron with people at the centre of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
Mr. Cameron is blatantly hiding the facts when he says he did not knew anything or was lured into this world of blackmailing and dirty tricks. He is pretending to be a naïve person who was drawn into this disgusting circle. He knew everything and on top of that he was warned many times by his colleagues and allies. Not very long before going to polls he was told openly about the company he was keeping. Editor of British newspaper The Guardian met with Mr. Cameron’s closest advisors and he briefed very carefully about Andy Coulson, telling him many revealing pieces of information that could bring huge trouble to Mr. Cameron if they were ever to surface in the public domain. I believe Guardian has done a great service to public and Journalism at large by bringing to light the shattering depravity of Mr Murdoch’s newspaper empire. Mr. Rusbridger did not stop here but went to see the Liberal Democrat leader Mr. Nick Clegg, who is not partner with Mr. Cameron’s conservative party. Nick Clegg knew all about Mr Coulson before last May’s coalition negotiations. What angers people like me is that in the presence of such a substantial amount of information both leaders paid little attention and decided to enter coalition government and made Mr. Coulson the Downing Street director of communications. After phone hacking revelations it is clear that it is now “impossible” to believe that the Conservative leader is grounded in a decent set of values.
Another attack on Mr. Cameron’s close friends and allies came from former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who levelled furious accusations on Rupert Murdoch’s News International of employing criminals to illegally obtain private information about his family and others. Mr. Brown told BBC that Sunday Times – one of the newspapers published under Murdoch’s News International group, obtained confidential information on his bank account, legal files and possibly other material during his tenure as Britain’s finance minister. Mr brown categorically said in the BBC interview that:
“My tax returns went missing at one point, medical records have been broken into. I don’t know how all this happened but I do know … that in two of these instances there is absolute proof that News International was involved in hiring people to get this information,” he also said “And I do know also that the people that they work with are criminals, criminals with records, criminals who sometimes have records of violence as well as records of fraud.”
The dirty tactics of Murdoch-owned newspapers went on to hack Gordon Brown’s voicemail messages and obtained his family’s health records. Brown was deeply shaken when News International’s Sun newspaper approached him with the news that it planned to publish a story that his newborn son had cystic fibrosis, an often-fatal disease.
Another straw in this whole saga is the $22bn bid by Murdoch’s News International for the BSkyB that is facing a tough opposition. Those apposing it claim that this take over by Murdoch will give him too much political clout. On top of that the issue of tens of thousands of pounds paid to police by journalists is also under question. An initial inquiry into the matter was closed when Goodman was sent to prison in the case of hacking royal phones. For the time being Andy Coulson was successful in getting out on bailed until October after spending nine hours at a London police station. He told the reporters that he would not say much at this sage but “There’s a lot I’d like to say, but I can’t.” On the other hand Goodman was re-arrested to answer questions about alleged payments to police officers. Apart from Goodman many other journalists have been arrested for questioning. As some thought that Rupert Murdoch sacrificed The New of the world to save his multibillion-dollar BSKyB takeover bid, but under growing public pressure that has also been delayed as Murdoch withdrew a promise to spin off news channel Sky News. British government after that referred the case to anti-monopoly authority. This means the case will be delayed for months and might fall out at the end because the decision of court cases and investigation would definitely affects the final decision in a very negative way.
In short the tabloid journalism and the spin master is in sewer, by destroying the personal data of innocent and vulnerable people and preying on it to earn money has backfired. Rupert Murdoch the notorious media mogul never thought that his dirty tricks would follow him back to his home. I wonder what type of journalism is that which sees no humanity and boundaries and relies heavily on using people and their very personal matter, on dead people and the matters after their death. It disgusts me beyond words that a journalist with conscious would ever cross that line and would ever to try to do such things and that too in United Kingdom of Great Britain. On a different note we who curse our journalists and police back here in subcontinent could take sigh of relief that not all that glitters is of gold. The corrupt police and media has their brethren in the modern West too.
Note: This article was published in ICE Business Times Bangladesh.