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CMS Report: News International claims party-politics make report on phone hacking worthless

February 24th, 2010Posted by in Journalism, Legal

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s report into press standards, privacy and libel has some pretty damning things to say about journalism and management at News International, following allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.

[Read the full report at this link]

The committee opened an investigation into phone hacking following a series of stories by the Guardian last summer, said that News International senior staff called to the committee had suffered “collective amnesia” and were unwilling to provide detailed information about activities at the paper up to 2007.

So how has News International responded?

On the Sun’s website today coverage of the report goes by the headline: “Report on press ‘hijacked’ by Labour MPs” and says:

Labour MPs wanted to smear Tory communications boss Andy Coulson, an ex-News of the World editor. But the report found “no evidence” he knew phone hacking was taking place.

The report uncovered no new evidence of phone hacking at NOTW, says the Sun. But the committee did draw new conclusions by looking into existing evidence:

It is likely that the number of victims of illegal phone-hacking by Glenn Mulcaire
will never be known. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there were a significant
number of people whose voice messages were intercepted, most of whom would appear
to have been of little interest to the Royal correspondent of the News of the World. This
adds weight to suspicions that it was not just Clive Goodman who knew about these
activities.

Tom Newton Dunn’s story made it onto page 2 of the print edition and op-ed on page 8 (next to a feature on ‘How to tell if you’re being lied to’) weighed in with the headline “No honour”:

Today is another dark day for parliament (…) members wasted seven months – nearly half their time – on unfounded claims made by the Guardian newspaper against News International (…) Parliamentary select committees are important but only work if MPs  on them behave with fairness and honour. Some on this committee have not. Its report is accordingly worthless.

The Sun’s leader piece makes particular reference to Tom Watson MP’s position on the panel. As Watson himself notes in a Comment is Free piece on the CMS report today, he recently won a libel action against the Sun. No mention of this in the Sun’s piece – perhaps the political tensions are more personal…

The Sun’s story toes the same line as the official statement from News International in response to the report [in full below], which suggested that certain members of the cross-party committee had pursued a party-political agenda.

They have worked in collusion with The Guardian, consistently leaking details of the Committee’s intentions and deliberations to that newspaper.

Elsewhere, sister title The Times reports on the committee’s recommendations offering up two stories on page 15 of the print edition.

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