Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Goodbye to Coulson, and hello to Green Party media reforms

Good. Coulson has gone. Some may think that is the end of the matter, but it's not.

Coulson remains either a liar, or an incompetent, or possibly both. He is standing by his story that he was ignorant of the phone hacks. That needs to be tested in the courts, but while at present we have a dozen witnesses who say he knew, none will speak out. There are two reasons for this.

One is the danger that if they come out of the hacking closet, they could incriminate themselves. That is why we need an amnesty, for a set period, for journos to come out and sing sweetly about what they know, so that we can clear the Augean stables. Remember that the NoTW is not alone in this; it is alleged that other papers do substantial amounts of hacking. Some may have public interest justification: it needs to be brought out into the sunlight.

The other reason is that they fear it could embugger their careers. Difficult. But. There is safety in numbers, and if journos are offered the carrot of amnesty (for a period of time) and a stick of prosecutions - (?and having their journalist accreditation withdrawn?) - we might expect a large and fairly harmonious choir of confessors.

The hacking is just one strand of the problem. Some of the other problems, and solutions, are addressed in the motion that the Green Party adopted in Sept 09, Birmingham. Here's the gist of it.

The scandal arising from illegal surveillance of public figures by the News of the World raises many important questions relating to democracy in the UK.  The influence of Rupert Murdoch's News International empire is excessive, and its relations with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), who appear to have failed to conduct the News of the World investigation with due diligence, is questionable.

The Green Party, through its elected members and its press activity, calls for :

1.    An independent inquiry, whether judicial or by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Police.
2.    The MPS to  release all information relating to illegal surveillance to those affected by it
3.    A fresh investigation into the surveillance by a police force other than the MPS
4.    Mobile phone companies to review and improve their customers' security
5.    The setting up of a Media Commission, along the lines of the Banking Commission, to review and make recommendations on better journalistic practices, including the matter of undue domination of the media by a single person or corporation.
6.    An amnesty for past acts of illegal surveillance by journalists, in order to get a fresh start without an unmanageable number of individual court cases
7.    The Press Complaints Commission to be replaced by a body with real authority to correct errors within the media. 

 A few modest little reforms there. All perfectly reasonable. 


weggis said...

The scandal arising from illegal surveillance of public figures

I have a file on every current, known potential, and past [to 1994] councillor in the LB of Redbridge. Some are thicker than others, that's the file not the counciilor, although some locals may dispute that statement.

Where does the boundary lie between public scrutiny and "illegal surveillance"?

Is it a question of who does it and for what purpose?

DocRichard said...

I take it that you just collected your data from publicly available info. Wich is OK, although some might advise you to go get a life. Councillors? Life is too short.

The fine line to be drawn id dependent on Public Interest argument. Not that the public will be interested (the NoTW motive in whether an actress wears tartan knickers) but the interests of the nation. So investigative journos can use subterfuge if they believe, say, that a politician is embezzling public funds.


Hello Doc

"I have a file on every current, known potential, and past [to 1994] councillor in the LB of Redbridge" - scary.