As speculation matures into full-blown witness statements and accusations, Trinity Mirror have called in the law firm Herbert Smith and launched an investigation into phone-hacking across its titles. Until now there have been only present tense denials of such actions.
One shareholder told the FT they expected “nothing less” than an investigation, but it hasn’t come in time to stop the company’s share price going into free fall, with a 9.8% plummet on Monday since Guido, swiftly followed by the BBC, and grudgingly some other papers, began lifting the lid. He’s not sure a mere review is going to do much to reassure investors…
Guido understands the Indy team used every card in the book to secure a delay in the announcement that Johann Hari has been stripped of the 2008 Orwell Prize. The words “delicate” and “state” keep coming up. Sources for the prosecution seem to be outraged at how the Indy are conducting themselves during this humiliating time. While many are concerned at what a fall from grace might do to someone who already claims to be unstable, using a threat of their suicide as emotional blackmail to avoid professional embarrassment has been seen as a step too far. Johann Hari’s accomplice and loyal defender, David Rose, is said to be on suicide watch…
Those of you following Guido on Twitter will know that for weeks Guido has been using the hashtag #CircularFiringSquad to drip out names of journalists from other newspaper groups, in particular the Mirror group, who are as guilty as those arrested at the News of the World. Illegal hacking and blagging, with no public interest defence, has been endemic at Mirror titles. Last night on BBC Newsnight they produced testimony from former employees that at the Sunday Mirror
Last week this blog reported on the record accusations against Tina Weaver, editor of the Sunday Mirror, that she was at the heart of a culture of journalistic illegality. Max Keiser claimed that she personally told him in 2002 about Piers Morgan’s working knowledge of phone hacking – at a time when he was editor of the Daily Mirror. Guido has extensively reported allegations against Piers Morgan dating back to his time at the Daily Mirror which have been followed up worldwide. We have reported testimony that when Mark Thomas was editor of the Sunday People, he was according to Guido’s source – who is a household name, “the biggest phone hacking enthusiast”. The evidence of the Information Commissioner against the Mirror group is compelling.
If it turns out that Sly Bailey’s Mirror group was a criminal enterprise, they will have to face the consequences, with a market capitalisation of only £140 million and damages that could mount up to tens of millions the consequence could be bankruptcy. Plus jail time…
Meantime, and until the due process of the law takes its slow course, Guido thinks it beyond credibility that Tina Weaver is a member of the self-regulatory Press Complaints Commission. Tina should step down.
On a personal note, if Mirror group newspapers “go after“ Louise Mensch MP, as they are openly threatening to do, they will be making a big mistake. She sits on the DCMS Select Committee and is determined to widen their inquiries out to other newspapers beyond the News of the World. Tina and Sly should remember that it was a similar threat by Rebekah Brooks against Tom Watson that eventually led to News International being brought to crisis point. Louise is just as tough as Tom…
Under questioning this week by the DCMS Select Committee, James Murdoch said he “relied upon” media law firm Harbottle & Lewis’s report when he and Rebekah Brooks claimed that hacking was the work of one rogue reporter. According to a Bloomberg newswire report Harbottle & Lewis is now seeking clarification from New York-based News Corp., by whom they were retained, about the extent to which its duty of client confidentiality is waived. The lawyer who first reviewed the emails, Lawrence Abramson told the Guardian that “Professional duty of confidentiality prevents me from commenting on this.”
Guido, in an effort to be helpful, is publishing the report. The report is from Lawrence Abramson of Harbottle & Lewis LLP to Jon Chapman, the in-house counsel at News International Limited, which James Murdoch told the Select Committee cleared News International is published in full below:
Re Clive Goodman
We have on your instructions reviewed the emails to which you have provided access from the accounts of:
I can confirm that we did not find anything in those emails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman’s illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the Editor, and Neil Wallis, the Deputy Editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the News Editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures.
Please let me know if we can be of any further assistance.
29 May 2007
Count ’em, it is three sentences long. Not exactly in-depth is it? Guido is increasingly of the view that James Murdoch is, without being too legalistic, totally f****d.
Today’s guest publication is The Australian, not normally Guido’s first choice for news, but somehow they got the interview that he was chasing all morning. James Hipwell, the former Mirror journalist whose insider information about the paper under Piers Morgan puts the former editor’s denials into serious doubt, has spoken out for the first time in five years. He claims phone-hacking was rife and that “bosses” were in on it:
“I know that for one simple reason: I used to see it going on around me all the time when I worked at the Daily Mirror. I sat right next to the show business desk and there were some show biz reporters who did it as a matter of course, as a basic part of their working day. One of their bosses would wander up and instruct a reporter to `trawl the usual suspects’, which meant going through the voice messages of celebrities and celebrity PR agents. For everyone to pretend that this is some isolated activity found only at the News of the World is ridiculous, it’s just a lie.”
Hipwell says, depending on legal advice, that he is likely to offer his insight to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry. This is very bad news for Piers Morgan…
UPDATE: This is also pretty bad news for current Mirror editor Richard Wallace. He was Showbiz Editor at the time. Awkward…
One of Guido’s co-conspirators at the Indy sent this in. They are clearly worried about Johann Hari and have put this thoughtful missing poster at strategic points around the Indy’s newsroom floor at Northcliffe House.
The Council of the Orwell Prize met yesterday to consider and review Johann Hari’s cut ‘n pasting as well as evidence of plagiarism and passing off helpfully submitted by the public and readers of this blog. We await their judgement.