Phone hacking: the political blackmail that corrupts British Politics

English: Nixon says goodbye to the White House...

English: Nixon says goodbye to the White House staff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The report by Media Standards Trust “Who was hacked?” paints a bleak picture of British politics.[1] Even though the average citizen was unaffected by the phone hacking, most victims were public figures or related to public events usually a tragedy or a scandal, all citizens should be worried by the report. The press have worked hard to frame phone hacking as celebrity scandals. Even when it was about other public officials, the media organisations want you to believe it was about public hypocrisy by these figures. The truth is darker and more dangerous for democracy.

Who is safe when the powerful can be corrupted and influenced by secret information?

The news organisations hacked the phones of politicians, senior police officers, Home Secretaries and traced people in the witness protection programme. They claimed these were for stories and thus in the public interest. Is it in the public interest to hack the phone of a Home Secretary and find people in the witness protection programme? The Home Secretary has responsibility for the country’s internal affairs in particular public safety such as policing and national security. The post is responsible for law enforcement.[2] If they can be corrupted, blackmailed, or even influenced by the misuse of their private information, then the rule of law that protects us is in danger. No citizen is safe if the rule of law cannot be guaranteed. You are not safe if the press can find people hidden by the witness protection programme. If the police cannot protect these people, who can they protect? Is anyone is safe, when the government cannot keep its promises to protect them?

Who rules the UK?

Is UK politics based on blackmail and intimidation where secret informants are used to destroy political opponents and undermine political rivals? The newspapers traffic in this information and it threatens everyone. Parliament seems unable to address the corruption. The police appear compromised, some of the senior officers had their phones hacked and some officers were paid by the media for stories and information, and the Home Secretary has been hacked by the media.[3] We have to ask who governs the country?[4] When the police put politicians under surveillance, who is safe? [5] If the Home Secretary can be influenced by private information, then who will make sure the rule of law exists? If journalists used these methods to influence politicians and police officers, did criminal gangs and spy agencies do the same?[6]

Questions that need to be answered

Here are some questions to ask during this election:

  • Were the press used as proxies by the police or the security services to monitor people?
  • Are the press still using these methods? How can they prove they can be trusted?
  • Can the government keep its promise to protect us?
  • Are the police continuing to monitor politicians? When it occurred in the 1990s, was it supervised by a Home Secretary who may have also been compromised by phone hacking?

Who will protect us and ensure we have decent politics free from illegal influence?

In this election season, voters need to know what candidates will do to create a system of decent politics free from the habit of blackmail and intimidation. Do they reject the ethos shown by News of the World and Mirror Group?

[1] http://mediastandardstrust.org/mst-news/who-was-hacked-an-investigation-into-phone-hacking-and-its-victims-part-1-news-of-the-world/ (accessed 2 April 2015)

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Secretary (accessed 3 April 2015)

[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/andy-coulson-knew-of-david-blunkett-affair-because-of-hacking-8916432.html (Accessed 3 April 2015). Andy Coulson claimed he only wanted to confirm the story. Has anyone asked whether he wanted any influence over the man who would enforce the law against his company’s illegal activities? That journalists and their proprietors for whom they work can influence senior politicians through illegal methods raises questions about the government’s political integrity. How can the public trust the government is clean?

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/undercover-with-paul-lewis-and-rob-evans/2015/apr/01/police-face-further-pressure-over-covert-monitoring-of-mps (accessed 3 April 2015)

[5] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/25/police-spied-on-labour-mps-whistleblower (accessed 3 April 2015)

[6] Consider the case of Operation Tiberius, which indicates that criminal gangs had penetrated the Metropolitan Police. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tiberius (accessed 3 April 2015)

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About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
This entry was posted in democracy, journalism, police, politics, public interest and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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