Article by Peter Burton : (archives)
News International boss, Rebekah Brooks has stamped her little foot, shaken her ginger curls and says she jolly well won’t go to the Houses of Parliament to tell the Culture, Media & Sport Committee that everyone in Wapping knew who was engaged in illegal “news” gathering. Pity, because she could also have told them why managing editor and senior spell-binder at the Screws, Stuart Kuttner was sacked last summer, just when the Guardian broke the story of the Screws’ out of court settlement with Gordon Taylor for hacking into his voicemails.
She might have been able to explain why, without any of the management at the paper (they say) being aware of phone hacking by Glenn Mulcaire, they thought they were liable for what Mulcaire had done without their knowlegde or involvement. After all the paper’s head legal honcho, Tom Crone suggested to the Committee last July that Mulcaire was working for other papers. On that basis, he could have hacked Gordon’s phone on behalf of the Sunday Mirror or one of the Dirty Des rags. If they didn’t even know it was going on – and they categorically denied that they did – why should they have coughed up before Gordon Taylor even got them to court?
But the police had an email which made it clear that a transcript of Mulcaire’s interceptions on Taylor’s phone had been made by Screws reporter, Ross Hindley (AKA: Ross Hall) for senior shag hack, Neville “Onan the Barbarian” Thurlbeck. (You might ask why the police didn’t pursue this prima facie evidence of law-breaking at the Screws by people other than fall guys Goodman and Mulcaire.)
Maybe Kuttner’s firing was a response by James Murdoch, his ultimate boss in the UK, to the increasing filthiness of the paper’s reputation under Kuttner’s regime and the vast sums of money gushing down the Screws loos, thanks to pay-offs to Max Mosley, Gordon Taylor, Barry George and even £800K to one of their own, maligned ex-employees, Matt Driscoll (to name a few of many, not to mention Goodman and Mulcaire).
And shortly they may well have to dig deep for veteran media warrior, Max Clifford, whose case against the paper for invasion of privacy gets underway early next month (if the paper doesn’t settle before). It seems unlikely, though, that Max Clifford would be ready to sign a non-disclosure agreement, like the one Taylor did. So maybe the paper will be forced to take its chances in court, where Clifford’s lawyers (and the intelligent press) will have a field day. I can’t wait.