Phone hacking is ‘the practice of intercepting calls or voicemail messages without the consent of the phone’s owner’.
The main newspaper to do this was the News of The World. They were accused of phone hacking, police bribery and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of stories to publish. The investigations, which initially lasted from 2005-2007, showed that the paper’s hacking was limited to celebrities, politicians and members of parliament. However…
In 2011 it was revealed that they had also hacked the phones of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler, as well as victims of both the London bombings and deceased British soldiers.
This led to the closing of the newspaper, as well as several high profile resignations, including the commissioner of London’s Metropolitan police service. The closing of the paper was the first significant effect of the scandal.
Rupert Murdoch, owner of the paper said, “The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself”.
It has now been revealed that other high profile newspaper are paying compensation to ten victims of phone hacking. This confirms that the practice was widespread in parts of the British newspaper industry.
The Leveson enquiry was announced in 2011, aiming to draw recommendations for the future. The enquiry examined culture, practices and ethics of the press, and the relationship between the press, public, police and politicians.
He recommended that newspapers should continue to be self-regulated, and that there should be a new press standards body with a new code of conduct. This would provide the public with confidence and ensures the press are protected from interference.
Party leaders decided that an independent regulator would be established by royal charter, and could only be amended if two-thirds of the majority of the Houses of Parliament agreed.
The industry ignored this, and came up with their own- IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation). all major news publishers have signed up for this, apart from The Guadian and the Financial Times. This organisation is made up of five industry representatives and six from outside the industry.
Although missing this lecture, after reading through the PowerPoint I now understand the phone hacking scandal a lot more clearly. The new admission from the Daily Mail shows that this problem was far more widespread than originally thought, it could be that more publications are found out in the future.
As far as the regulators go, I would tend to trust IPSO more than the one created by the party leaders, as it means that the publications could not be biased towards politicians. However, IPSO is made up of people from the industry, meaning the public might not trust them due to the original problem of phone hacking etc.
Rival regulator ‘Impress’ (Independent monitor for the press) would be, in my opinion, more trustworthy, as they are independent of both publishers and politicians.