The Murdoch Phone Hacking Scandle: Lessons on how to investigate crimes!
Posted on August 31st, 2011

By Garvin Karunaratne, Ph.D.

It was a hilarious experience to watch the House of Commons’ Parliamentary Select Committee investigating the Murdoch Phone Hacking. 
In the words of Labour Member of Parliament Tom Watson, the charges were serious:
We need to know what Rebekah Brooks knew about payments to Police. We need to ask James Murdoch how he authorized payments to buy the silence of hacking victims. And from Rupert Murdoch we just need a wider question-Why did you let this happen?”
The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt had said that “Murdoch’s News Corporation still  had to answer questions about why Murdoch and other executives did not know about the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World”
It all became very serious. The Daily Mail  of 10th July: “Blair tries to hush up Hacking Scandal as a whistleblower Member of Parliament was told: Rebekah Brooks will pursue you for the rest of your life”. That was statement attributed to the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, throwing his weight, threatening Tom Watson, trying to silence him, but Gordon Brown the Prime Minister had apparently stood his ground.
Rebekah Brooks, CEO wrote to the Police that she had no knowledge of payments to the Police.(Guardian.. co.Uk:14/7/2011)  This was contradicting  her statement to a House of Parliament committee that News of the World had paid police officers for information”. (The Week:Aug.11.2011) That was as far back as November 2003, but the two statements were never compared.
The newspaper staff are alleged to “have paid tens of thousands to officers who supplied information”. The parent company had paid over $ 1.6 million purely to settle phone hacking cases.
It was a very serious charge held at people at the helm of the world media. The questioning could have unearthed all the nefarious phone hacking that was done with corruption at very high levels. My mind goes back to August 8, 2006 when Glen Mulcaire of the News of the World and Clive Goodman, Royal family editor pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 6 and 4 months imprisonment respectively- all for phone hacking on the Royal Family. Charges if proved could land both Murdochs and others in prison.
People from all walks of life watched the House of Commons’ Select Committee in action. It was famous Members of Parliament- the Culture, Media and Sports Committee in action.  The big wig miscreants included Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the parent company of News International and his son James. They were alleged to have authorised phone hacking to collect information that would reach headlines. Those headlines and spicy information had created sales and profits for the newspaper division allowing them to build up their multimedia multi national conglomerate of today.
It took a strange turn of events. Alas the Parliamentary Select Committee took all of them at once and questioned them together when James Murdoch could hear what was asked of his father Rupert Murdoch  and what his father replied and at times even added to what the father said.
It was all a give away. The questions ranged on phone hacking, an attempt to get to the bottom. Nothing could ever be gleaned out purely because of the immature manner in which all the alleged miscreants were taken together.
The essence in any investigation is to find whether the people involved corroborate or contradict and the persons are not given the chance to connive  and confirm what the other person states. When they are questioned together they are offered the chance to confirm and connive!
Having worked as an administrator, at times in charge of a work strength of 4000 officers I had the task of ensuring that Government procedures were followed and those that transgressed due to corrupt practices were hounded out. I had never taken the offficers whom I thought had connived at a fraud together and question them for all those that had connived to hear. That to me is a sheer certain method of not being able to find what really did happen. At the Law Courts in Sri Lanka when any witness is questioned the other witnesses are sent away to a place from where they cannot hear or even see the other persons being questioned. There cannot even be a gesture!
A further investigation has now been ordered, but in any investigation once there is bungling of evidence at an initial inquiry the chances are that nothing will ever be established.
So ended the phone hacking, where the phones hacked included the lines to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown himself, not to speak of the grand children of Her Highness the Queen of Great Britain.
Perhaps the miscreant was  Sean Hoare,  “the former News of the World journalist who was the first reporter to tell of “endemic phone hacking“. He was found dead on  July 18, 2011,  suddenly, treated as “unexplained, but not suspicious”.  It was very strange to hear that right at the crucial stage, Sean Hoare became silent or was perhaps made silent.. Hoare had said that Andy Coulson, the editor of the News of the World   knew of  the hacking. In his words, “phone hacking was endemic at News of theWorld”. (BBC:WorldNews,UK:19July2011)  Andy Coulson was a former editor of the News of the World who was recruited by Prime Minister Cameron as his spin doctor. Prime Minister Cameron went to the extent of making a statement in the House of Commons “promising profound apologies if Coulson is found guilt of phone hacking”.(London Evening Standard:July 20,2011). That was not necessary as Hoare the one person who stated that Coulson knew of the phone hacking was no more to give evidence!
In fact, former Ambassador, Craig Murray says, “Whether this is a convenient heart attack or a “ƒ”¹…”Kelley’ type “ƒ”¹…”suicide’ remains to be seen. With the exception of Kelley, this is possibly the most suspicious death of my lifetime”.
Craig Murray refers to David Kelley, the HM Arms Inspector who was the UK Inspector for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq who had said that there were no weapons of mass destruction. However Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to join the United States and go to war and David Kelley was a thorn in his flesh. Kelley had gone for a walk and was strangely found dead. It was said that Kelley had committed suicide, but the records of investigation were decided to be withheld from public scrutiny and secret for some sixty years- till everyone involved would not be alive. However the records have been released now and investigations are resuming. Perhaps, Kelley in his innocence and sincerity paid with his life and so perhaps similarly went Sean Hoare in this instance of phone hacking.
Anyhow the fact remains that, the manner in which the investigation was conducted by the House of Commons sleuths- the Members of Parliament did actively allow the Murdochs to evade justice.
The entire world and the sleuths of investigation may take note of this UK House of Commons’ novel method of investigation!
Garvin Karunaratne
Formerly of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service.
31 st August 2011
Author of :
The Electronic Stealing of the 2004 US Presidential Election,(Amazon.Com)
The Administrative Bungling that Hijacked the 2000 US Presidential Election
(The University Press of America)
How the IMF ruined Sri Lanka(Godages)

Success in Development(Godages) 2010

One Response to “The Murdoch Phone Hacking Scandle: Lessons on how to investigate crimes!”

  1. dhane Says:

    Whatever UK, USA & other western counties do is correct for the world. But when much minor incident took place in Sri Lanka it is big show

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