It’s not widely realised that the first big investigation into corrupt private investigators, police officers and the press, was Operation Nigeria (which morphed into Operation Two Bridges) in 1999, seven years before the first phone hacking inquiry. That investigation specifically looked at two senior named News of the WorldJournalists.
But as Paddy French, who has indefatigably stood up details from this era in his Press Gang site reports today, it wasn’t just the News of the World which was compromised by the ‘No 1 Corrupt Detectives Agency’. The Mirror Group were involved as well. This partly explains why – as Alastair Morgan was told by a Mirror journalist very recently – the story of his brother’s murder is ‘too political’ for the Mirror Group to cover.
There’s some contradictory evidence from the Leveson Inquiry and the Phone Hacking trial about just how much Rupert Murdoch was interested in his best selling Sunday Tabloid. Before Lord Justice Leveson in 2012, the chair of News Corp said the Sun was his major UK interest and he rarely concerned himself with NOTW, but earlier this year both Brooks and Coulson at the phone hacking trial gave evidence of weekly calls from Murdoch, throughout their editorships.
This snippet, from Piers Morgan‘s autobiography, shows that – at least on one occasion – Murdoch knew more than his editors. Concerned about a Princess Diana ‘phone pest’ story (allegedly sourced illegally through a police file) the then editor is reassured first by his news editor, Alex Marunchak, and then by Murdoch himself, that the story would stand up. Continue reading →
The TV drama screenwriter, author and freelance journalist Peter Jukes, who live-tweeted all 138 days of the phone-hacking trial, considers the rise and fall of Rebekah Brooks and what her career tells us about power. For eight months, Jukes looked on as Brooks maintained extraordinary composure in the witness box. By the end of the trial, he notes, “it felt as if the whole courtroom had become her friend”. Continue reading →
The jury of the hacking trial in London were told by a prosecution witness of a revealing birthday dinner involving some of the “most powerful people in the media industry in the UK”, including Piers Morgan, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.
Ambi Sitham, now a life coach and writer based in LA, was in January 2003 a solicitor at the top British media law firm, Schillings. She was also in a relationship with Neil Reading, a PR executive, and close friend of Coulson’s.