Nov 092009
 
 November 9, 2009  Breaches, Featured News, Non-U.S., Surveillance

John Leyden of The Register reports:

The UK press self-regulation body has dismissed allegations that phone tapping of celebrities was endemic and ongoing at British tabloid the News of the World.

The PCC investigation began in July after the Guardian reported how the NotW paid out more than £1m to settle privacy lawsuits from public figures, including football players’ union boss Graham Taylor, whose voicemail messages were intercepted. The Guardian further claimed that News International staff used dodgy private investigators to access thousand of mobile phone accounts targeting celebrities and public figures, including former deputy prime Minister John Prescott and football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, among others.

Read more on The Register.

Elsewhere, Ian Burrell of The Independent reports:

The Press Complaints Commission, the watchdog for the newspaper industry, has rejected claims by The Guardian that a widespread and ongoing culture of phone-hacking existed at the News of the World, Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday title. After investigation, the PCC reported that it “found no evidence that phone-message hacking is ongoing” at the tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

Read more on The Independent.

In response, The Guardian issued the following statement:

This complacent report shows that the PCC does not have the ability, the budget or the procedures to conduct its own investigations.

The report confirms the central allegation made by the Guardian and has not produced any independent evidence of its own to contradict a single fact in our coverage.

Doubtless because of its restricted powers, the PCC has, unlike Nick Davies, not spoken to a single person involved in the widespread past practice of phone hacking, limiting its own original inquiries to an exchange of letters with someone who was not even at the News of the World at the time of the hacking.

Top people in the military, police, government and royal household were warned that their messages might have been intercepted by private detectives working for newspapers. But the only people to have seriously inquired into any of this have been the police, lawyers, MPs, the Information Commissioner and reporters, including Nick Davies.

If the press wants self-regulation it cannot allow external bodies to do the real work of investigation and regulation.”

News of the World issued their own statement on their site:

The on-the-record sources questioned by the PCC included Mick Gorrill, the Assistant Information Commissioner, who told them that since 2006: “We have not had any investigations where we have uncovered evidence of journalists using private investigators or other third parties to unlawfully obtain personal information.”

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates also added: “There is essentially nothing new in the story … there is certainly no new evidence and, in spite of a huge amount publicity and our own request to The Guardian and others to submit to us any additional evidence, nothing has been forthcoming since.

Read more on News of the World.

Thanks to Brian Honan for the first two links.

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