Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain
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Dial M for Murdoch uncovers the inner workings of one of the most powerful companies in the world: how it came to exert a poisonous, secretive influence on public life in Britain, how it used its huge power to bully, intimidate and cover up, and how its exposure has changed the way we look at our politicians, our police service and our press.
Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers had been hacking phones and casually destroying people’s lives for years, but it was only after a trivial report about Prince William’s knee in 2005 that detectives stumbled on a criminal conspiracy. A five-year cover-up then concealed and muddied the truth. Dial M for Murdoch gives the first connected account of the extraordinary lengths to which the Murdochs’ News Corporation went to “put the problem in a box” (in James Murdoch’s words), how its efforts to maintain and extend its power were aided by its political and police friends, and how it was finally exposed.
The book details the smears and threats against politicians, journalists and lawyers. It reveals the existence of brave insiders who pointed those pursuing the investigation towards pieces of secret information that cracked open the case.
By contrast, many of the main players in the book are unsavory, but by the end of it you have a clear idea of what they did. Seeing the story whole, as it is presented here for the first time, allows the character of the organisation which it portrays to emerge unmistakably. You will hardly believe it.
John Hewison, as well as that of Max Clifford, more cases were coming forward. Just as the Goodman and Mulcaire court proceedings had prompted Taylor’s action, and Taylor’s had prompted Clifford’s, Clifford’s now set others in motion. The sports agent Sky Andrew began to sue, represented by Charlotte Harris. Mark Lewis started to act for Max Clifford’s assistant Nicola Phillips, whose phone had been hacked in an attempt to steal Clifford’s stories. Sienna Miller, Chris Bryant and others had
approach by launching a ‘comprehensive review’ of the evidence in the Yard’s possession by a highly regarded senior lawyer, Alison Levitt QC. In a letter to Starmer published the same day, John Yates welcomed the review, saying there remained ‘outstanding public, legal and political concerns’ surrounding phone hacking. The following day a copy of the email chain sent to James Murdoch during the Gordon Taylor case in 2008 (suggesting phone hacking was ‘rife’ at Wapping) was deleted from his
urgent investigation by an independent police force. Later, at Prime Minister’s Questions, watched live by 3 million TV viewers, Watson told David Cameron that the Met should be stripped of responsibility for investigating phone hacking: ‘The former investigating officer is now on the payroll of News International and three senior editors have been identified in relation to phone hacking: is it not time that another police force took over the inquiry? You have the power to make it happen,
held at Kingston and Wimbledon police stations respectively after arriving for interview by appointment. The men, assistant editor and chief reporter, were central to the news operation at the News of the World. They were released on police bail, pending further inquiries. By coincidence, the British Press Awards were being held that evening at the newly re-opened Savoy Hotel in the Strand. Despite the embarrassment of having its chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck make the wrong kind of headlines
which time the political row would probably cool. The company might then be able to proceed with the bid. It was still definitely on the table. At 4.16 p.m. in a Commons statement, Jeremy Hunt duly confirmed he was referring the bid. The minister, who for months had vigorously defended the deal (once only days before the Milly Dowler story broke) explained his motivation: Protecting our tradition of a strong, free and independent media is the most sacred responsibility I have as Culture