Monday, 21 February 2011

Donald Trelford on phone hacking story: 'It's a case of dog eats dog gone barking mad'

Former Observer editor Donald Trelford describes press coverage of the News of the World phone hacking affair as "obsessive, hysterical and opportunistic" and "a case of 'dog eats dog' gone barking mad".

Writing in the Independent, Trelford won't be winning any friends at the Guardian by claiming: "It seems extraordinary that this story should remain so high on the news agenda. It was all a long time ago, two people have been to jail, the paper's editor has resigned twice from senior posts without any convincing evidence being produced against him, the Press Complaints Commission appears satisfied that newspapers now abide by data protection law, and police inquiries have resumed."

Trelford says: "Some of the journalists involved are no doubt motivated by a genuine desire to improve the conduct of their profession, but there are other vested interests at work whose motives are not so pure."

Trelford suggest the vested interests are the anti-Rupert Murdoch faction; celebrities who have been exposed by the tabloids in the past being egged on by lawyers who see a massive pay-off for themselves; and MPs still smarting from the drubbing they received from the newspapers over the expenses scandal and itching to get their own back.

He adds: "Evidence is the key word, and the press should wait for that. The fact that a celebrity thinks he or she may have been hacked isn't evidence."

  • Trelford's piece is rather at odds with a double page spread on phone hacking in the same issue of the Independent headlined: "Revealed: the widening web of litigation in press scandal" which comes complete with a giant graphic showing dozens of legal cases being brought against the News of the World and the police.
  • Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog argues "Doubting Don" is wrong.

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