Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Cameron, News International and the Met: how deep is the rabbit hole?

The phone hacking scandal is fast reaching epic proportions. After resigning as head of News International in Britain on Friday, Rebekah Brooks was arrested 'by appointment' by the police on Sunday. She was later released.

This was followed by the resignations of first Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson on Sunday and then Assisstant Commissioner John Yates on Monday. In his resignation speech, Stephenson made clear his anger at being criticised by Cameron for doing exactly what Cameron had himself done. The Metropolitan Police employed Neil Wallis, a former News of the World journalist, to improve their public relations. Wallis was arrested last Thursday. Cameron employed Andy Coulson, editor of the News of the World at the time of the phone hacking, as his Director of Communications after Coulson had resigned from the News of the World. Coulson subsequently resigned from that post too. It has been claimed by a number of journalists that Cameron was warned of Coulson's involvement in the scandal. Coulson was arrested on Friday 8 July.

Also on Monday the former News of the World journalist Shaun Hoare, who first made allegations of phone hacking against his former boss Andy Coulson, was found dead at his home in Watford. Police described his death as 'unexplained but not suspicious'. Hoare first told the New York Times that Coulson not only knew about the hacking but actively encouraged it. Only last week, Hoare told the New York Times that reporters could use police technology to locate people using their mobile phones. Hoare also said to the Guardian last week, "There's more to come. This is not going to go away." Of course his death at this time could be a coincidence but there are other possibilities. There are similarities between this case and the death of Dr. David Kelly who was due to reveal evidence about how the decision was made to take the country to war with Iraq in 2003.

Today reports have surfaced that Rebekah Brooks' husband's laptop had been found in a bin in a car park. He claimed he must have been busy and left the laptop.

Also today Rupert Murdoch and his son, James are appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee. When answering questions, Rupert Murdoch appeared unable or unwilling to recall anything to do with the details of events leading to the scandal becoming public. Rebekah Brooks is due to give evidence later today.

This scandal has revealed the close relationships that exist between the police, the government and the media. The Metropolitan Police have recieved payments from the News of the World and Cameron has had countless meetings with Brooks and the Murdochs. If Cameron is found to have had knowledge of illegal activities ocurring at the News of the World, his position would seem untenable. The bookmaker Paddy Power are giving odds of 7/1 that Cameron will not last the year. Events are moving at an incredibly fast pace and one thing is for certain, this is not over yet.

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