I’ve been asked on a number of occasions why I highlight the work of Martin Hickman and James Doleman in my blog, and why I nominated them to cover for me in my brief absence on Monday morning this week.
Because major figures in the British media are on trial at the Old Bailey there is, understandably, a lot of anxiety in the background. Are old scores being settled? Can the media be impartial about itself? The Hacking Trial is unique in this aspect, and any media coverage of it is bound to be met with suspicion.
So, for the sake of transparency, let me explain this. Martin and James are the only two other ‘freelancers’ I know in the court room. While every other journalist I have met there, whether from News UK or the BBC, is a person of integrity, who files every day an accurate report of what transpired in Court 12, they are subject to the running orders of the day. Their work is made prominent or not by factors outside their control. James and Martin, however, write up everything.
It’s easy to dismiss a journalist either way because of their previous coverage of the media. But I must stress this after constant questions on this: I have not met one partial reporter in the last three months, and it’s important to say that reporting from court carries an additional onus. If you get it wrong, if you comment or prejudge the facts, you’re not only in danger of losing your objectivity: you could also be heading for prison for contempt of court.
So Martin and James were both available and – in terms of covering the facts of the case – reliably posting on a daily basis. In different ways too, they both know more detail than I do: Martin on the background to the civil actions around phone hacking, and James on the court procedure, since he covered in detail the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial
So let me conclude by alerting you to James’ excellent post today using all his previous court knowledge to summarise the first three months of the hacking trial: no easy feat. Please go to The Drum and read the whole piece
The phone-hacking trial began on 28 October and over the last three months the jury of nine women and three men has been bombarded with evidence, both in writing and from witnesses. It’s been a complex case but as the prosecution evidence comes to an end the main issues can be boiled down to a simple question: what did the defendants know and when did they know it?