HACKGATE DAY 180: Proof at last that other Murdoch titles hacked and blagged….

….as Murdoch pleads for a stay of execution.

News has broken in the last few minutes (15.45 BST) that as long ago as 2000, The Sun blagged into Gordon Brown’s personal bank accounts and medical  records, as well as into the records of his son – to confirm that he had cystic fibrosis. In turn, evidence is emerging that the Sunday Times used professional actors to impersonate celebrities and obtain information on several cases – including Brown himself via Abbey National.

And in an obvious ploy, Newscorp is praying for the dust to settle by itself asking the Competition Commission to refer the takeover again. This is a clever way to wait for emotions to settle down again….at the end of which – perhaps in six months time – the decision will go back to Jeremy Hunt. I also understand that Newscorp is arguing that, since the NotW no longer exists, there would now be no need to ‘spin off’ Sky News from the deal.

Robert Peston has called the move “an obvious ruse”.

When I first set up the dedicated Hackgate page here, I wrote as follows:

‘Sit back and watch as Hackgate spreads first to the Police, then the rest of Fleet Street, the Judiciary, the Opposition, the Government, and the Royal Family.’

It has indeed turned out to be Britain’s Watergate. But even I wasn’t entirely ready for today’s revelation that Newscorp bagged two birds with one stone by corrupting Royal security police in order to obtain information about the the Royal Family’s movements. The mind boggles at what might have happened, had that information fallen into the wrong hands.

According to the BBC’s source (who I understand is a member of the Wapping Dam Busters) the e-mails include requests by a reporter for sums of around £1000 to pay police officers in the royal protection branch for the information. The phone details could have been used to hack phones of the royal family. “There was clear evidence from the e-mails that the security of the royal family was being put at risk”, the source said. “I was profoundly shocked when I saw them.”

Earlier, my heart wobbled a bit when I noticed that BSkyB’s share price was falling….thus technically offering Rupert Murdoch a cheaper deal. But by noon today, I was pretty sure that Newscorp’s proposed takeover of BSkyB was dead: Jeremy Hunt, it transpires, has done what a week ago he said was impossible – to write again to the regulators and request ‘fresh guidance on whether News Corporation should be allowed to buy the rest of BSkyB’. The Culture Secretary truly is a Berkeley Hunt, but it is quite amazing what can be made to happen when political careers are endangered….and quite fitting that on Day 180 of Hackgate, Hunt made a stark, 180-degree U-turn.

But then the brilliant stroke emerged: Newscorp asking Hunt to definitely refer the bid again….a cynical tactic designed to keep the deal alive until things settle down some way ahead.

As I’ve said many times about Murdoch, only the silver bullets and heart-stake will suffice, followed by the lead casket at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Rupe meanwhile is prancing about, all smiles and feigned insouciance. And there too is Rebekah Brooks, too insensitively dense to realise that, with every smug smile as she basks in Murdoch’s devilish glory, she recruits another leaker to the anti-Newscorp cause. But not even that is straightforward: for the ‘smoking gun’ emails and other leaks (so the Met has just announced) are actually part of a “deliberate campaign” to undermine its corruption investigation. Here’s the statement in full:

It is our belief that information that has appeared in the media today is part of a deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation into the alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers and divert attention from elsewhere.

At various meetings over the last few weeks information was shared with us by News International and their legal representatives and it was agreed by all parties that this information would be kept confidential so that we could pursue various lines of inquiry, identify those responsible without alerting them and secure best evidence.

However we are extremely concerned and disappointed that the continuous release of selected information – that is only known by a small number of people – could have a significant impact on the corruption investigation.’

Blimey. What next? Well, there’s a piece at the BBCNews website that purports to show the global reach of Newscorp, and how easily the Murdoch organisation will survive this devastating blow to its ambitions. It’s largely a load of tosh actually, because it focuses almost entirely upon revenues. Rupert’s empire (see earlier Slog posting last week) is chock full of revenue – but light on profit and growth. And if the criminality contagion spreads quickly, it could very soon become an ex-empire.

So what is Murdoch hoping to achieve while he’s here? To be honest, I don’t think anyone outside the immediate inner circle knows. It may well be they don’t know themselves. The only other thing the old Cobber has achieved so far apart from getting the referral put off further – is for Nick Clegg to tell him to ‘think again’ about the BSkyB takeover. I doubt very much if that made his day. Rumours abound that the Newscorp patriarch will make a statement later on today. It would be odd if he didn’t. However, having seen Cameron this afternoon being bombarded by allegations during the Q&A following a speech about The Big Society, maybe Rupe won’t show his face at all.

We wait and see. But one senses that something umimaginably huge is about to be revealed.

22 thoughts on “HACKGATE DAY 180: Proof at last that other Murdoch titles hacked and blagged….

  1. Poor old Rupert.

    I wonder whether he read yesterday’s “MAIL on SUNDAY”?

    The article about how OAPs can benefit from ECT.

    Electro shock treatment.


  2. With apologies to Graham Chapman
    “This takeover is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late takeover. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the floor, it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-takeover.”



  3. BSKYB shares hit 6.69 and have rebounded. Buy at £5. Remain short NWSA.

    The news just gets better and better for we anti Ruperts. Bit like the BP disaster last year.


  4. By going after the Queen and the rest of the Royal family as well as the Prime Minister makes one wonder whether there wasn’t a wider agenda here. One site, which I had discounted, said they were using equipment that can only legally be used by the security services. They claimed the equipment was smuggled into the UK in diplomatic bags.


  5. What could be more huge than the nationwide cover up of the abuse of little children and the way the police the media the NHS the politicians and the Social Services have all ganged up on abuse survivors? I wrote to every newspaper in the country UK about the deliberate criminalisation of institutional Pindown chil;d abuse survivors and I remember phoning up the Sun newspaper and talking to a man, I dont know if he was the Editor or what, but I was so shocked at his response when I told him about the secret family courts, “We can’t touch that sort of story”. I was shocked. Every politician was also written to and the most wicked corruption this country has ever been responsible for, to little children I told about, and so not one of those people can ever say that they did not know. What could be a bigger scandal than the cover up of nationwide abuse of children? Gordon Brown is moaning about being hacked. BOO HOO LET ME GET MY TINY LITTLE VIOLIN OUT AND THROW IT AT HIM! No sympathy, that man has nothing to moan about, he stood back like the biggest coward of them all anbd would not lift a finger while children have been abused!


  6. As I mentioned before, I think they must have hacked David Kelly and/or his family.

    I’m surprised it hasn’t come out yet – another bombshell if/when it does.


  7. Thanks, that’s a truly interesting read…very especially George Michael’s comments. Despite being a great fan of his for many years, I would never have thought him capable of holding such thoughtful views…after all, he is a celeb ;-)


  8. Slowly, bit by bit, it is emerging how our country has been run. Cameron has been very quiet, though his suggestion that Ms Brooks should go indicates that he thinks she knows a lot more than she has so far said.

    The relationship between our leaders and the press is unhealthy overall, and quite disgraceful in the case of Rupert M. Somehow Brown’s desire to keep this whole hacking thing under the carpet seems entirely in character. Stealth…


  9. Rupert still holds all the cards,although James may end up the sacrificial lamb.The other RM,not a fit and proper person in 1973 to run a public company,bought a bankrupt BPC and kept going,up , for a long time.1991, MGN flotation, the sub underwriters queued up.The financials on BSkyB are great,and apart from the excessive Newscorp ‘overheads”(the boss’s 747 for a starter),we are not talking about crap Maxwell diversification, looted pension funds and the rest.The police enquiry will find that the Met was even worse than NI,fact.The Competition bods will demand a separation of print and TV.No problem there , corporate restructure, end of control of the Sun and Times newspapers ,hardly duff assets.The more the greedy City panics about whether or not they are going to get a Crispin Odey price for BSkyB,the less he will ultimately have to pay(£9),and if the worse comes to the worse 39 percent of BSKyB’s future dividends is not to be sneered at,


  10. If you follow one of the links posted yesterday about Dunblane, Brown’s non-action against the abuse of children you report may have been because he is allegedly a paedophile, along with a bunch of other political top-brass. That would make his involvement far too close for comfort methinks.


  11. Interesting that NewsCorp shareholders in US are being reported to want to hold the management to account for mismanagement. This goes off into so many tangents.


  12. I fear you might be right. He gets rid of News International and the plurailty issue goes away. Then we only have the fit and proper person issue. James and Becks avoid the Big House by seeking refuge in China. (The old man has that as his ultimate hideaway.) The others are cast to the winds, banged up and new management installed in News Corp. RM could be free. So BSyB is a layered scale buy below £6.50.


  13. “Rupe meanwhile is prancing about, all smiles and feigned insouciance. And there too is Rebekah Brooks, too insensitively dense to realise that, with every smug smile as she basks in Murdoch’s devilish glory, she recruits another leaker to the anti-Newscorp cause. But not even that is straightforward: for the ‘smoking gun’ emails and other leaks (so the Met has just announced) are actually part of a “deliberate campaign” to undermine its corruption investigation. Here’s the statement in full:”
    As I’ve been saying for several days now, the real story is which senior police officers were taking these bribes for stories, and which even more senior police officers were getting a cut.


  14. If, by disposing of the NOTW, he has tried to avoid the plurality issue does that mean that starting up the SunonSunday, which would bring that issue up again, is a nonstarter?


  15. Another angle on the Sun story about “the Browns” and cystic fibrosis from Guido

    It has gone unremarked that the original story also includes what seems to be a birth card given out by the Brown’s themselves..



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