Published on 18 Jul 2011

Phone-hacking scandal as Watergate is no exaggeration

In his own words, his integrity is intact. So did he fall or was he pushed? The resignation of Sir Paul Stephenson is the biggest and most definitive moment yet in a scandal that has so far claimed two CEOs, two editors and a fair number of  News International employees.

In amongst all the heat of tribute, charge and counter charge, are the words of the Mayor Boris Johnson who in paying tribute to the Met Chief touched the subject that dared not speak its name. The Mayor suggested in a late night interview that one benefit of what had happened was that a window could now be opened upon the the central question of whether close police links with the News of the World played any part in closing down any of the varied police investigations into the hacking affair.

Those links extend back at least a decade. John Stevens was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (2000 – 2005) during the crucial early phase of the phone hacking matter. Upon retirement he went to the Lords and was hired as a  columnist for the News of the World. Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman resigned in 2007 and became a columnist of the News of the World’s sister paper, the Times.

The Mayor has raised the question surrounding police/News International relationships and influence. But there is now another even bigger issue in play. How did the politicians’ relationships with News International impact both on the police, and on the hacking investigation? The nature of these complex, tripartite, and largely unseen relations now lie at the heart of the judge led inquiry, the police inquiry, and the MPs’ Select Committee investigations.

Largely forgotten, connected to all this there is the still unresolved murder of a private investigator, Daniel Morgan who was murdered in South London in 1987. Five Metropolitan Police inquiries have targeted personnel in both the Metropolitan Police force itself and individuals linked with the News of the World. They have resulted in a number of attempted trials, all of which have had to be abandoned.

With each passing day the scale and reach of this scandal does indeed describe Britain’s Watergate. Many argue that Watergate changed very little in America, beyond the removal of the President himself. Will that prove to be the story here too?

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10 reader comments

  1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    lets hope the inquiry uses evidence form all sources and more specifically original evidence , not second or third round evidence from a past enquiry or what someone else has reported in faour of one particular ‘ firm’

    It amazes me in inquiries how we never get to the real point of time when misdeeds occur and this is the method of perpetuating a scenario in favour of the powers that be as they try to underline their innocence from past protestations.

    Lets get to the bottom of it this time and use original evidence.

  2. Philip Edwards says:

    Jon,

    Stephenson pushed or fell? At this stage I don’t much care. He should have gone, now he has – that is all that matters. A PROPER AND HONEST inquiry (assuming we get one) will discover if his behaviour in office was suspicious or illegal.

    “Britain’s Watergate”? Maybe it is. But within ten years of the fall of Nixon we got Reagan and the Bush family and American-led colonial wars everywhere, the greatest inequality between the rich and everyone else, rampant profiteering, monopoly ownership in large tracts of industry and media, huge unemployment and a political system so far to the right it became virtually indistinguishable from the fall of the Weimar Republic.

    We got Thatcher and, well, read above.

    So, yes, maybe it IS Britain’s Watergate. But do you REALLY think it will be enough to reverse the cultural horrors of the last thirty-odd years? Do you REALLY think an overwhelmingly owned and scared right wing media will change the music? Yes, it and its cowering employees might change its tune for a while, but if we take the Watergate analogy we can’t rely on you journalists for long term help. En masse your profession hasn’t exactly got the best record has it?

  3. adrian clarke says:

    “In his own words, his integrity is intact.”Isn’t that the alleged words of all those somehow involved?
    There are as i see it some problems coming up,starting today , continuing tomorrow and then possibly going on for a number of years.
    Today the persistent stories by all media sources that will have an impact on making any fair trial an almost impossibility.
    Tomorrow a commons questioning that once again must prejudice any prosecution and fairness.
    On going , a police investigation into itself,involving alleged corruption , cover ups and possible obstruction of justice.Then a judge led enquiry that could take years and possibly cost many tens of millions without the requisite investigative powers of the police.
    The political involvement.Both Cameron and Milliband employing ex senior NI executives.The campaigning Brown accolyte Tom Watson , with his axe to grind. I’m, surprised Bryant was not on TV ,in his underpants,expressing his concern.If we want justice there needs to be one enquiry and not trial by the media as at present.

  4. Lord Gaga says:

    Police, media and politicians are in a menage a trois. They’ve all been at it – swapping the information that sells newspapers and makes or breaks political and police careers.

    Nothing will change. When the police, the press and the politicians are all compromised, who will investigate? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes!

    Some want to believe this is about the Murdoch press. It isn’t. Sooner or later the public will remember that Piers Morgan was editor of NotW, and that he went to the Lefty Mirror, and that the movement of staff and executives between similar firms is widespread and normal, its called a ‘career’.

  5. tRoN says:

    It’s situation out here in the provinces Jonny Lad. While you London based media luvvies continue your mad self obsessed feeding frezny the rest of the country just carries on. Please, continue eating yourselves, and dreaming up newer and madder conspiricy theories, it would almost be good sport if most people could be bothered to pay attention anymore.

    I never realised that I was such a dupe to Rupert Murdoch / News International / the Bilderberg group.

  6. Gary says:

    Why aren’t the SFO, MI5, MI6, BFBI, CBI, IR and InterPol not investigating this?

    It is a very serious event now! The only people who will come out of this unscathed are the Murdochs, or so it would appear!

  7. SnifferDog says:

    When is somebody going to bring the Daniel Morgan murder to centre stage on the phone hacking story?

  8. Ray Turner says:

    I’m not sure that Watergate is the right comparison really.

    The current scandal is more like the MP’s expenses scandal, but in reverse. Its the MPs hounding the media now, rather than the other way round.

    The similarity is that people in positions of power are being exposed for not being able to tell right from wrong and/or thinking they can get away with anything.

  9. Pugmad says:

    Neither of the officers should have resigned, both were dedicated and keen to improve the police service. I would trust both of them more than any of the politicians in this country. Sad state of affairs when officers with integrity feel bullied out of their roles. Who would want the poison chalice in future?

  10. james says:

    I like the guy
    with the custard pie

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