Editorial for 5 December: UK situation a caution indeed

We can’t help but wonder what the folks at the UK Guardian
are feeling right now.

For those who haven’t been keeping up, the newspaper was
relentless in its pursuit over the past few years into allegations of what
eventually came to be known as ‘phone hacking’ as well as allegations of
improper relationships between top-ranking police officers and local media
members. Neither of those claims were initially investigated in any sort of
serious manner by the UK Metropolitan Police.

What eventually occurred was the shuttering of one of the
UK’s most visible tabloid newspapers, a number of arrests, the departure of the
UK’s two highest-ranking police officers and serious questions surrounding one
of the world’s most extensive media empires.

The reward for the Guardian’s, and other independent UK
press outlets’, good work? Recommendations for tough self-regulation of the
UK’s supposedly independent press, followed up by threats of government-led
regulation if they do not do so. This sounds disturbingly familiar to those of
us in the Cayman Islands, although we might point out that the local press here
has done nothing to compare with the gangster-like activities pursued by some
in the UK. Unfortunately, the phrase “some in the UK press” appears to have
escaped learned judges and lawmakers entirely as they now seek to punish
everyone in an industry for the errors of the few. This is wrong. Responsible
press outlets [even if they are aggressive and independent in the pursuit of
stories] need not be lumped in with thugs and hooligans. We fear this is
exactly what is going to happen as a result of the Leveson hearings since, once
again, those who know somewhat less about the free press, how it works and why
it should be independent of the state, attempt to take out public frustrations
on some of its less honourable members – to the ultimate detriment of the
public interest. Individuals involved in the despicable phone-hacking situation
in the UK should be punished for their crimes; so should senior police officers
who “looked the other way”, but somehow we doubt that’s going to happen. No, it
still looks more like a cover-up to us, quite frankly; with the generally
labelled “media” as a handy scapegoat.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. This is an excellent oversight of the mess the UK is getting itself into over Leveson.

    The inquiry has best been described by one of my media contacts as – six million quids worth of whitewash used to do nothing more than cover up the clear connections between a senior Met officer and News International.

    The now retired officer he refers to (ironically the same person who oversaw Operation Tempura) has so far got away completely unpunished for what many believe was a blatant attempt to pervert the course of justice by burying evidence of the extent of the phone hacking. The Met have even failed to follow up their threat to interview him under caution about this on his return from the Middle East and his wife has just been given a high profile PR job with the UK Police Federation. Who says crime does not pay?

    Admittedly, the number of fading celebrities who were encouraged to jump on the hacking bandwagon to boost their public profiles has not helped and the media coverage their claims got has conveniently diverted attention from some of the real issues but this is, as you suggest above, a massive official cover up.

    Even the real victims, like Milly Dowler’s family, have been dragged into the press regulation frenzy when the true blame for most of this lies elsewhere.

    Thankfully, people are not sitting back idly and letting it happen. Check out – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/leveson-inquiry/9717694/Met-Police-ignored-vociferous-phone-hacking-warnings-from-own-detectives.html

    The police did not just get let off lightly, they were completely exonerated. Leveson wrote that the moves resulting in the original hacking investigation being closed were simply a result of poor decision making. Odd comment that considering the person who made the decision was an Assistant Chief Constable who went on to head the Met anti-terrorism effort, possibly the most responsible and demanding post in that police force.

    The bottom line here is that if the police had been allowed to come down on News International like the proverbial ton of bricks when the extent of the phone hacking became evident in 2009 we would not be even discussing this now.

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