Early next year, in the depths of the northern winter, a British government inquiry is likely to start the process of cleaning up forever the intrusive, invasive ways of the tabloid media.
A taste of what the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking will hear from its victims has just emerged in a fascinating Independent interview with the actress Sienna Miller. In it, she describes what it was like to be a victim of News Corporation phone hacking:
“The tabloid media culture in this country had got to a point where it was completely immoral. There was no consideration for you as a human being. You were successful, you were making money, therefore you deserved it and it was a very medieval way of behaving. I realised I couldn’t continue living in this country and do my job, which I loved. You want to feel that you can do something creative that you love without being picked apart and mutilated for other people’s pleasure.”
She describes how she discovered what was going on :
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“I changed my mobile number three times in three months. There were clicks on the line. I would pick up the phone and it would drop, there were messages I would never get, coupled with articles [containing private information] coming out every week. It had been going on forever, long before 2006 So I started to do tests. I would leave messages on people’s phones, like we’re going to rent this house or whatever, and it would appear the next day in the papers.”
Sienna Miller may be a rich movie star. But like hundreds (even thousands) of other people whose phones were hacked, she has a human story to tell.
And those human stories are going to change media behaviour for all time.