Thursday, July 7, 2011


As News of the World's current editor Colin Myler told his colleagues that they would have to "atone for the wrongdoing that took place in the past" all around him could be seen to be crumbling as public anger coupled with the spectre of advertisers deserting the paper took a grip on Sunday's most popular newspaper.

Of course, apoligising for past indiscretions is nothing new for the paper, but it is the speed and the undoubtedly decisive actions taken by brands such as Ford, Vauxhall, Co-op and Proctor & Gamble, just some of the names withdrawing their adverts, that will shake not only the NOTW but also News International to the core.

The recent apologies for hacking the phones of such celebrities as Sienna Miller was greeted with apathy and even the promise of £20m of compensation set aside to deal with the issue seemed to do little to assuage the anger of those whose privacy was so callously disregarded in the papers pursuit of a good story.

Doubtless those in and around the NOTW at the time were able to breathe a slight sigh of relief though because despite the high profile coverage and the widespread condemnation of the whole hacking affair, up until then it was primarily focusing on celebrities, and as such, public condemnation was limited; and there was certainly no advertiser revolt as we have now.

Then super injunctions came full swing into public view culminating with Andrew Marr making a pubic apology citing an error of judgement about his own super injunction that prevented the press from reporting on his affair.

With the exposure of Ryan Giggs' own super injunction through a combination of an Twitter extensive campaign and the MP John Hemming, the spotlight seemed to have turned full swing back in the favour of the press, who were now seen as the guardians of free speech fighting against corporations and individuals keen to suppress anything that may cause them public embarrassment. Perhaps the sight of a Fred Goodwin on a list of those obtaining a super injunction helped fan the flames of public anger towards these new weapons against free speech.

But once again public sentiment towards the press, and in particular the NOTW, has turned full circle as a series of crippling revelations hit the headlines this week concerning the alleged hacking of phones during the Milly Dowler and Soham murder investigations.

At the centre of these investigations is Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective formerly employed by the NOTW, a man who was jailed for his part in the royal aides' hacking scandal that also saw NOTW royal correspondent Clive Goodman jailed and the then editor Andy Coulson resign, saying that he took responsibility for the scandal.

Of course Andy Coulson went on to become Cameron's own spin doctor, a position he subsequently resigned earlier this year due to further implications over the scandal encompassing the paper.

But that was in 2007, fast forward to today and Rebekah Brooks, editor of the NOTW at the time of the investigation in 2002, refuses to acknowledge that she had any idea that Glenn Mulcaire was hacking into Milly Dowler's phone and therefore has no intention of resining her position of Chief Executive in the UK for News International.

Along with the the two high profile murder investigations, both of which the NOTW was selling their own papers through high profile exclusives and campaigns to help find the victims, other allegations are seeping into the public domain.

We can now add relatives and victims of the 7/7 bombings and families who have lost loved ones in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the ever growing list of people who have possibly been affected by this scandal, and I wouldn't be surprised if this list continues to grow.

And the revelations don't end there; Lord Macdonald QC has been joined News International as a legal adviser on the case. Lord Macdonald QC was head of the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) during the investigation in 2005-2006.

Rebekah Brooks is to oversea the internal investigation into phone hacking at the NOTW; Peta Buscombe the head of the PCC, the press watchdog has attacked this 'extraordinary decision' by Ruprt Murdoch and went on to comment that 'in any other business that would not be allowed to happen'

And with almost every new hour another company or charity pulls out of advertising or supporting the paper. Perhaps this is the real issue for Murdoch though, with the loss of accounts like Ford costing the paper circa £4m in annual revenue there is the real possibility that the paper will be bereft of any major adverts as it goes to press this weekend.

The Royal British Legion has announced it will be dropping its NOTW campaign in the light of revelations this week and Npower are also dropping their advertising in the paper, joining an ever growing list of companies turning their back on the paper.

So is this the end for the paper? Well the court of public opinion is the most relevant barometer and looking around the blogs, Twitter posts and editorial, the mood is one of complete disgust and shows little sign of abating.

The key difference between the current wave of anger and what went before has been the fact that this latest wave of allegations centres around cases and people who were ordinary members of the public and were victims of crime; something that could happen to any one of us.

In the case of Milly Dowler and the Soham Murders, very high profile cases that struck right at the heart of family life in Britain. So whilst we may not be able to relate to a celebrity or a member of the royal family, we can all relate to those parents and what suffering they had to endure during those terrible days; to find out a paper we once thought was there trying to help the enquiries was actually hacking into their phones and profiting from the resultant information is truly abhorrent to us all, and that is the key difference.

So as politicians line up to take on the once feared Murdoch empire, something that was almost unthinkable a few years ago, and allegation after allegation continue to surface, each one carrying their own legacy of victims stories and as the spotlight falls on Scotland Yard to ensure that this investigation finally unveils the whole truth of the scandal, one question remains unanswered; can the NOTW survive?

I've asked a couple of questions in a poll and the results of which I want to post to the NOTW so please feel free to stop by and vote.



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