Cranmer’s phone hacked by News of the World
It is one thing to hack the phones of scurvy politicians and self-absorbed celebrities who thrive on every column inch dedicated to their egocentric existence. But it quite another to eavesdrop on the dying and dead. Perhaps it should come as no surprise. It has become apparent that employees of News International have long targeted the close friends and relatives of the missing, murdered, and those who fall in combat. So why not a long dead archbishop?
Not many can bring themselves to care about Max Clifford, Chris Bryant, Andy Gray or Sienna Miller. But to hear that Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked, along with those belonging to the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, is deeply shocking. If it is true that the parents of Madeleine McCann were also hacked, along with relatives of 15-year-old Danielle Jones who was abducted and murdered in Essex in 2001 by her uncle Stuart Campbell, the actions are deplorable. It is disclosed today that the practise might even have extended to the victims of the July 7th bombings, and to the families of those who are dying for Queen and Country in Afghanistan and Iraq. If so, the perpetrators are beneath contempt.
But now it transpires that His Grace’s phone was also hacked – even as he placed his hand in the fire and declared: “And as for the Pope, I refuse him as Christ's enemy and anti-Christ, with all his false doctrine." Heads must now roll, just as they were wont to do in the good old days.
His Grace doesn’t care who. Just someone. It’ll help with the necessary retributive feeling; the need for a sacrifice for atonement by which we may all be reconciled. His Grace is sure News International can find a scapegoat from somewhere: Andy Coulson is probably still available.
Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News International, retains the support of Mr Murdoch and the personal friendship of the Prime Minister. Yet she let slip in a Select Committee meeting in 2003 that she believed journalists were entitled to use covert methods if there was a strong public interest in the story. At one point she even admitted paying the police for such information. Andy Coulson, then her deputy at The Sun, swiftly interjected that they always ‘operated within the code of the law’. But the two statements were and are mutually exclusive: paying the police for information obtained covertly is manifestly outside the code of law. It is highly likely that Rebekah Brooks revealed the truth on this matter, which Andy Coulson then moved to obscure. Significantly, Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson has said News International have given Scotland Yard documents which include information relating to ‘inappropriate payments to officers’ in his force.
As companies announce they are cancelling advertising due to appear in this weekend's issue of the News of the World, it is clear that blood must be spilled, for without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin. Those who have withdrawn their advertising include Ford, Vauxhall, Halifax, the Co-operative Group, Mitsubishi and Virgin Holidays. When companies like these suspend their marketing, entire pages of revenue are lost.
His Grace read yesterday that The End of the News of the World is Nigh.
But he’s heard it all before.
His worry is not for a single newspaper, or even for a major corporate like News International. His concern is for the reputation of the police and the freedom of the press. Those Met officers who are implicated or suspected must be immediately suspended and subjected to an independent inquiry: there must not be even a whiff of the police investigating themselves. Justice must be seen to be done. And we do not want a return to the Ministry of Information: we have the BBC for that. We do not want even a hint of state-imposed censorship, save for that which is necessary for the peace and security of the realm. We do not want the media to be coerced or cowed into taking an official line on any news story: God forbid that out of this morass would emerge statutory regulation of the press.