Here’s one story you won’t read anywhere in the News Ltd papers, especially the media section of The Australian. It’s also a story you’d never have heard News Ltd executive chairman John Hartigan refer to his his National Press Club address last week. You won’t read any reference to it in the News Ltd-inspired “Right To Know” coalition that News wants to use to supplant the Press Council. But if it had involved papers at another group, or Crikey, or Fairfax, then News Ltd papers would have been all over the story. This is what the Guardiansays:
Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists’ repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.
The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures and to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators.
Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them.
The Guardian said that figures targeted by one investigator include model Elle MacPherson, former deputy prime minister John Prescott and celebrity publicist Max Clifford. It said that in one case, News Group paid out STG700,000 ($A1.43 million) in damages and legal costs to Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers Association. Taylor sued the newspaper group after he was targeted by a private eye who hacked into his phone and that of other figures.
This handy timeline provided by the Guardian probably won’t be reproduced in Rupert’s papers anywhere either, and I reckon we won’t see any reference to it in The Australian’s Opinion pages, especially Cut and Waste. Can’t blow a career on something like this can we?