February 14, 2013

New arrests in the News of the World case


Though it had seemed, for half a second, that the News of the World phone-hacking scandal was about to be resolved, namely by News Corp. paying out £20 million in compensation, yesterday brought new developments in the ongoing sordid story. Six former News of the World journalists were arrested in Britain on Wednesday on “suspicion of conspiracy to intercept telephone communications,” said intercepting apparently happening between 2005 and 2006. The journalists involved were in the features and show business departments, whereas the earlier charges had been brought against the news desk.

In an article in the Independent, a lawyer who has represented clients in the case indicates that new evidence may be behind the arrests:

Steven Heffer, a solicitor with the law firm Collyer Bristow who has acted for more than 100 victims of phone hacking, said: “I have been informed by one client, who sued NI and recovered damages last year, that the police have discovered new evidence and documents which appears to justify an entirely new claim being made.”

There’s no word yet on what evidence has been unearthed, but no doubt it’ll be coming out over the next few days and weeks.

Two of the arrested journalists still work for Rupert Murdoch, though they’d moved over to The Sun: Rachel Richardson is the editor of the Sun’s “Fabulous” magazine and Jane Atkinson is their northern features editor. The others arrested are two show biz journalists, Rav Singh and Polly Graham, and a features journalist, Matt Nixson.

It’s long been clear that the hacking was part of a broader corporate culture, despite the fact that both Rupert and James Murdoch, in their testimony to Parliament, tried to deny both that the practice was widespread and that they’d been informed about it. The Independent article suggests that this new set of arrests may shed further light on the competition between departments at the paper:

One former senior journalist who worked on the paper said: “Features and news had the same targets and competed against each other. This set-up started in the Fifties and early Sixties when the NOTW had a circulation of close to nine million. Editors thought the competition in Fleet Street was non-existent.”

News Corp. has not yet commented on the arrests. Though one can only assume that what’s going through their minds right now is “Ohhhhhh, fuck…”



Sal Robinson is a former Melville House editor. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.