Phone Hacking Scandal News Update of the Day: News of the World whistleblower Sean Hoare was found dead this morning in his Watford home by Hertfordshire police. The former News of the World showbiz reporter was the first to explicitly state that former editor Andy Coulson was not only aware of the phone hacking by staff members, but was actively encouraging it.
Coulson denied allegations that he knew phones were being hacked under his watch, but Hoare told the BBC Coulson was lying, and that he had personally been asked by Coulson to tap into phones.
A police statement concerning Hoare’s death stated that while it was “currently being treated as unexplained,” it was “not thought to be suspicious.”
Elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal joined its sister company Fox News in attempting to downplay the severity of the charges brought against its parent, saying their “competitor-critics” want “readers to believe, based on no evidence, that the tabloid excesses of one publication somehow tarnish thousands of other News Corp. journalists across the world.”
For those apt to see the Phone Hacking reports as naught but Schadenfreude (which the WSJ says is “so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw”), Salon’s Alex Pareene offers a helpful refresher on the scandal so far:
News Corp. is accused of not just phone-hacking but also bribery of police officers and illegal access to private medical and banking records, obtained with the assistance of multiple private investigators and a convicted con artist. The crimes may not have been limited to the now-shuttered News of the World, but may have also included the Sunday Times. News Corp. withheld information from Parliament and paid hush money to hacking victims in order to avoid making the extent of its crimes public. People in charge of the News of the World during the hacking and the coverup of the hacking went on to much more powerful and influential positions in News Corp. and in the current Conservative government. The Guardian’s suggested questions for Rebekah Brooks, James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch are also a good summary of the scandal as we now understand it.
And in a late addition to the Schadenfreude-fueled “not thought to be suspicious” file, Rebekah Brooks’ husband Charlie unsuccessfully attempted to retrieve a bag found in a garbage bin near their home that reportedly contains a computer, a phone, and paperwork. The contents of the bag are now being examined by police.
Nice recap, albeit very US-centric. It misses out the most important developments of the last 48 hours, namely the resignation of the two highest ranking police officers involved in the investigation - who, like Brooks and the Murdochs, will be questioned by MPs today - the decision that Parliament will sit on Wednesday to debate the matter, delaying the summer recess; and the sudden wobbliness of David Cameron within his own party. He flew out to South Africa yesterday but was forced to announce his early return on a flight tonight, notable fellow Tories - *cough Boris Johnson cough* are not supporting him in a no-really-i-am-supporting-him-honest sort of way, and bookmakers have slashed the odds of his resignation from 100-1 to 12-1.
This thing moves too fast to keep up with, literally. I can’t check the news at work but am getting emailed updates from family.