The News of the World hacking scandal has been an ongoing affair. It began in 2006 when a court case resulted in the former royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Gleen Mulcaire being jailed for hacking into phones of royal aides.
Since then further allegations have resurfaced and public figures and celebrities have launched legal actions after it emerged that their phones and emails have been intercepted. Whilst this is clearly an invasion of privacy it is most disturbing to hear allegations that the News of the World may have hacked the phones of the 7/7 London bombings victims’ families and in the Milly Dowler case. It is illegal to intercept another person’s telephone under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000 (Ripa) and there have also been offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. However, this is not only an illegal act but a grossly unethical one which severely undermines the publications reputation. Furthermore, a former reporter Sean Hoare told the BBC that this type of hacking was ‘endemic’ at the News of the World.
Graham Foulkes, the father of a victim of the 7/7 attacks has reported to the BBC that his phone may have been hacked. He says ‘My wife and I were kind of all over the place... the thought that somebody may have been listening to that just looking for a cheap headline is just horrendous’. Labour MP Chris Bryant has led the way for parliament to hold a debate on Wednesday as to whether there should be a public inquiry into this issue, after he accused the News of the World of “playing God with a family’s emotions”. These illicit techniques were also used in the case of Milly Dowler. Allegedly a private investigator, working for the News of the World, intercepted and deleted voicemails on her phone after her disappearance, as reported by the Telegraph. On the 5th of July David Cameron expressed his shock over what is reported to have occurred over the Dowler case and by stating he was appalled if this was the case, as reported by the BBC. He has called for the police to carry out a thorough investigation and get to the truth of what is happening.
The News of the World is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s and this scandal could cost the publication a huge amount. A compensation fund has been set up with an estimated £20 million to compensate justifiable cases. Roy Greenslade of the Guardian has called on the public to act in view of these revelations to deter this type of journalism. He suggests boycotting the paper, applying pressure on advertisers and media buyers not to buy space in the News of the World and to back the call for an independent public inquiry into the affair amongst others.