Sunday, July 10, 2011

News of the World Accused of Phone Hacking

An incident surrounding a phone hack involving the News of the World absolutely exploded Wednesday, June 6. The allegations against the company included accusations that the newspaper’s hacking activities were much more widespread than was first believed and that the newspaper had paid police officers for some of the information that they used.

All of this recent news prompted a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday morning. While in session, the members called for an in-depth investigation of the matter. All of this began just earlier this week when the News of the World was accused of hacking the voicemail of a young woman who was murdered. They had hacked the woman’s voicemail while the investigation of her disappearance was being conducted. Allegedly the newspaper deleted voicemail messages when they hacked into the murder victim’s phone. This gave her grieving parents a false hope that she was alive and accessing her phone when this was far from the case.

According to the Daily Telegraph, there are now reports that the newspaper also violated the privacy of the family members of individuals that were either killed or injured in the London bombings that occurred on July 7, 2005 by hacking their phones as well.

"It is thought that journalists were seeking to access voice messages left on family members' phones as they desperately waited for information about their loved ones in the aftermath of the bombings in 2005," according to the Telegraph. "It is unclear if they were aware at that stage that their relatives had died in the bombings."

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the News of the World has been accused of violating the privacy of individuals by hacking their phones. Just this April, the newspaper published an official apology for the voicemail hacks that had occurred between 2004 and 2006.

The other issue involved with this case involves the payment of Metropolitan Police for information.

On Wednesday the Metropolitan Police confirmed that there have been emails handed over by News International on June 20 that "include information relating to alleged inappropriate payments to a small number of MPS officers."

"At this time we have not seen any evidence requiring a referral to the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) in respect of any senior officer," Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said in a statement. "Operation Elveden will be equally thorough and robust. Anyone identified of wrongdoing can expect the full weight of disciplinary measures and appropriate action through the criminal courts."

Since January 26, 2011, the MPS has been investigating the phone hacking that has been taking place.

A spokesman from News International confirmed that they did hand over the emails to the police. "The emails in question were passed over to police some time ago," the spokesman said. "This story came about as a result of an article that was being proposed to be written in which it was going to be said that we had these emails and we had not handed them to the police."

Members of Parliament are expecting a full investigation of all of the allegations that have been brought forward. They also decided that News Corps.’s currently pending takeover of BSkyB should be put on hold until everything has been settled one way or another.

"We have let one man have far too great a sway over our national life," said MP Chris Bryant, referring to News. Corp chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch. The BSkyB deal should be "put on ice," he said.

"The very idea of targeting families in their darkest hour is shameful, sickening, and cruel," said Rt Hon Yvette Cooper.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve commented during the debate that the phone hackings that have occurred "must fill any right-thinking person with revulsion."

Grieve went on to say that Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to a "fully independent public inquiry into those matters," but warned that the "burning desire for people to see finality ... may take some time."

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