Wednesday 6 July 2011

Hacked Off inquiry campaign kicks off today

Hacked Off - the campaign for a full public inquiry into phone hacking - launches today as the News of the World is engulfed in allegations that the phones of relatives of the victims of the July 7 London bombings were hacked as well as those of Milly Dowler and the parents of Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Lord Fowler, Lord Cunningham, Chris Bryant MP, lawyer Mark Lewis, Adrian Sanders MP, Professor Brian Cathcart, and the Media Standards Trust's Martin Moore will officially launch the campaign at the House of Lords.

Supporters of the campaign already include: Francis Wheen, Tom Watson MP, Dr Ben Goldacre, Baroness Helena Kennedy, Sir David Bell, Roy Greenslade, Professor Ian Hargreaves, John Lloyd, Isabel Hilton, Ian Jack, John Pilger, Andreas Whittam Smith, Neal Ascherson, Professor Chris Frost, Polly Toynbee and Kevin Marsh.

The campaign is calling for a full public inquiry into phone hacking and other forms of illegal intrusion by the press. It says the inquiry should cover:

  • The extent of the use of illegal information-gathering methods by the press, directly and through intermediaries;
  • The conduct of the Metropolitan Police Service in investigating these matters, and its relations with the press;
  • The communication between press and politicians in relation to these matters;
  • The conduct of the Press Complaints Commission and of the Information Commissioner, and of other relevant parties such as mobile telephone companies;
  • The lessons to be learned from these events and actions to be taken to ensure they are not repeated.

Hacked Off has a petition at

The NUJ has backed the call for a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The NUJ has repeatedly called for a public inquiry into the systemic problem of phone hacking at the News of the World. This can no longer be brushed aside as the actions of a couple of rogue reporters.

"The latest sickening revelations happened under the hands-on leadership of key senior figures in Rupert Murdoch’s News International. It is simply unbelievable that they were unaware of the existence and the scale of this abuse.

"Rebekah Brooks may claim it is 'inconceivable' that she was aware of the depths her paper was prepared to plummet to – it is frankly inconceivable that she was not aware of the systemic reliance on hacking as a source of information for the stories in the paper she edited.

“The latest allegations lay bare a moral and ethical abyss at the heart of Murdoch’s operation at the News of the World. It is imperative that a public inquiry takes place, one that involves scrutinising the actions of executives at the title at the highest level. It is vital that the inquiry also examines the broader issue of press regulation in the UK."

The NUJ is demanding the government halt any decision on the future of BSkyB until a public inquiry into the conduct of "Murdoch’s key lieutenants at the News of the World.”

  • MPs are to hold an emergency debate on phone hacking today.
  • Information Commissioner Christopher Graham suggested on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning that a custodial sentence should be introduced for those who are found guilty of "blagging" [obtaining] phone numbers illegally, rather than the maximum £5,000 fine currently imposed for the offence.
  • Northern Echo editor Peter Barron has called on the public to boycott the NoW over the phone hacking scandal, HoldtheFrontPage reports.

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