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The Guardian flayed for stand on UK phone-hacking

Part two of the Leveson Inquiry was scheduled to consider the extent of improper conduct and governance failings by individual newspaper groups and how these were investigated by police.

world Updated: Mar 05, 2018 17:38 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK,phone hacking,Leveson Inquiry
File photo of a man reading The Guardian newspaper in London.(Getty Images)

The investigation by The Guardian into phone-hacking triggered a series of events since 2011, including the closure of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and the Leveson Inquiry, but the newspaper’s support to the Theresa May government closing the second part of the inquiry has irked many.

Part two of the inquiry was scheduled to consider the extent of improper conduct and governance failings by individual newspaper groups, how these were investigated by police and whether police officers received corrupt payments or inducements.

The inquiry’s closure last week sparked much criticism, but The Guardian’s support to the move in an editorial has surprised many. Calling it a betrayal, leading media academics and others have lodged a strong protest with the newspaper, whose dogged investigation of phone-hacking over several years was led by journalist Nick Davies.

Their letter to the newspaper stated: “Your editorial…constitutes a fourfold betrayal. It betrays your own journalists, who, with Nick Davies leading the way, laboured bravely and brilliantly to expose criminality and wrongdoing at national newspapers.

“It betrays the blameless and often vulnerable victims of those crimes, who were promised a full public inquiry, including the all-important Leveson part 2, but whom your editorial does not deem worthy of mention.

“And it betrays the public at large, including your readers, who, as Brian Leveson has pointed out, are entitled to know the true scale of what went wrong, how newspaper managements allowed it to happen and what lessons can be learned.”

The letter added, “In endorsing the cancellation of Leveson 2 you place yourself on the side not only of this Conservative government but also of its close allies, the newspapers that perpetrated the crimes and the wrongdoing. And what is your rationale?

“That we should look forward rather than back – a logic that negates all accountability and one that is always favoured by the unscrupulous and the unethical. This was unworthy of your newspaper’s great traditions of independence, of service to the public and of intellectual rigour. That is the fourth betrayal.”

The signatories, including James Curran, Graham Murdock, Bob Franklin, Justin Lewis, Greg Philo, Sonia Livingstone and Einar Thorsen, resented the newspaper’s view that the government’s reasoning behind closing the inquiry “should be given a chance”.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World was closed in July 2011 following revelations of phone-hacking in The Guardian, which triggered a series of inquiries, arrests and changes in the relationship between the British press, public and police.

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 17:38 IST