The News of the World has hit back at the Guardian's phone hacking allegations in a comment piece today. The paper says: "LAST week the News of the World was the subject of some ferocious and, at times, hysterical attacks on its credibility, integrity and journalistic standards. The onslaught was led by a series of reports in the Guardian newspaper and hastily followed by the BBC, Sky News, and ITN. The essence of their campaign was that members of our staff have engaged in a widespread and unlawful conspiracy to access "thousands" of mobile phones. However, as Andy Hayman - a former Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, who headed an exhaustive nine-month inquiry into our journalistic conduct - says today: "My recollection is different." He adds: "As I recall the list of those targeted, which was put together from records kept by Glen Mulcaire, ran to several hundred names. "Of these," writes Hayman, "there was a small number - perhaps a handful - where there was evidence that the phones had actually been tampered with." And of claims that the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was a victim of hacking, Hayman declares they are "without any clear evidence". Despite purporting to represent the highest standards in journalism, the Guardian's reporting was inaccurate, selective and purposely misleading." The NoW then attacks the Guardian over the fake fax and the Sarah Tisdall affairs: "No newspaper, least of all the Guardian, is perfect. Nor is our craft a perfect science. Its practitioners are human. They misbehave and make mistakes for which they - rightly - pay a heavy price. So let us remember that it was the Guardian that knowingly, deliberately and illegally forged a cabinet minister's signature to get an exclusive story. It was the Guardian that cynically abandoned one of journalism's most fundamental and sacred covenants by revealing the identity of a confidential informant. As a result of that betrayal, a Foreign Office civil servant - a 23-year-old woman - was sent to prison. So, if the Guardian has any fresh evidence to support their claims against us, we invite them to pass it on to the police without delay. Yesterday, in their editorial column, they proclaimed: "Decent journalism has never been more necessary . . . " We couldn't agree more. It's time they practised what they preach." A comment piece on Wikileaks has backed the NoW and accused the Guardian of doing its best to "castrate" British journalism. (story tip Adrian Monck) It seems the backlash against the Guardian has begun.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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