Tuesday, July 12, 2011

News International: An Empire in Ruins?

They say a week in politics is a long time; perhaps that saying can now be changed to encompass the last week endured by News International, for it is undoubtedly running scared.

With each new day comes a new revelation, and like a particularly contagious virus, it is starting to spread across different areas of the corporation. And as it spreads deeper the aura of invincibility that once seemed to cover every corner of the empire is crumbling away, leaving behind the last bastions of resistance; Murdoch Sr, Murdoch Jr and Brooks.

Yesterday saw the beginnings of the accusations Gordon Brown levelled at the group, and today saw the culmination in those accusations leading to the front doors of both the Sun and Sunday Times. Citing that the group had links to the criminal underworld and gained access to his personal bank account and legal files is just another of what is becoming a procession of MP's coming out of the woodwork, free from the shackles of tabloid revenge and confident that they can speak without retribution against what was once a menace that hovered above Parliament like a hawk keeping watch on its prey.

Yet we still get replies such as this from a spokesman for News International: "We note the allegations made concerning the reporting of matters relating to Gordon Brown. So that we can investigate these matters further, we ask that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us."

Why are we standing by and giving NI employees the time to investigate and possibly cleanse the place of any incriminating evidence BEFORE the police step in? We've already read reports claiming that millions of internal e-mails and messages were deleted off machines at the offices of the NOTW so why not start to get tough and let the police get involved sooner?

Today also sees the turn of acting deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan police John Yates, who's previous enquiry and conclusion into the phone hacking allegedly took just three hours, to face the Home Affairs Committee; that should be an interesting session.

This is a man who has united all parties in their condemnation of his conduct....

Lord Prescott said Yates should stand down.

In less than a day, in three hours he said [Yates] had reviewed it and there was no evidence whatsoever. There is no evidence whatsoever that was just a big lie. They made judgements about not pursuing criminal actions that had been conducted, that is in fact is enough to have seen them moved out of their jobs.

Yates is still there, when all this evidence is coming out by Commissioner Akers, it is totally unacceptable that he stays in that job. Can't he find gardening leave which they usually find in these situations until we have cleared all this up with a public inquiry.

Conservative MP George Eustice said Yates had some serious questions to answer.

Why with all these 11,000 pages of evidence, knowing as they did that it was quite widespread why they didn't do a more thorough investigation at the time ... [Yates] investigated the cash for peerages allegations thoroughly and without fear or favour. I think it does look like there has been a different approach on this particular instance.

The reach and pace with which this whole affair is moving is breathtaking, leaving almost everyone in its tracks as it progresses onwards without the barriers that would once try to hold it back.

And more bad news for Murdoch....it's spreading to the US.

I think Jon Stewart's take on what is happening in this country perhaps best sums up how the Murdoch empire is crumbling into parody...

With the strong links NI has into the Republican party bound to be examined, class actions being taken by US shareholders who are disgruntled with the slide in value of their stock and Melanie Sloan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington commenting 'if Mr Murdoch's employees can be so brazen as to target the British prime minister, then it is not unreasonable to believe they also might hack into the voicemails of American politicians and citizens' the very future of Murdoch's empire could be called into question.

And yet amongst all this we now see that the domain name sunonsunday.co.uk has been transferred into the ownership of News International.

Do they really think people are going to have the desire and appetite to engage in another Murdoch backed travesty of a Sunday paper given all that is happening at the moment?

But against the backdrop of the utter carnage that is taking place in the media and despite universal condemnation, including calls from the parents of Milly Dowler for her to 'do the honourable thing' and quit, Rebekah Brooks is still the Chief Executive of News International.

You can follow me on Twitter @mcollinsblog

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