This just gets better and better and proves once again the essential need for a vibrant, non-Murdoch press. Such illegality rather neatly matches Rupert’s belief in illegally bombing and occupying nations. That’s his legacy:
A former senior News of the World journalist has gone public to corroborate claims that phone-hacking and other illegal reporting techniques were rife at the tabloid while the prime minister’s media adviser, Andy Coulson, was deputy editor and then editor of the paper.
Paul McMullan, a former features executive and then member of the newspaper’s investigations team, says that he personally commissioned private investigators to commit several hundred acts which could be regarded as unlawful, that use of illegal techniques was no secret at the paper, and that senior editors, including Coulson, were aware this was going on.
“How can Coulson possibly say he didn’t know what was going on with the private investigators?” he asked.
Coulson has always said he had no knowledge of any such activity. News International has maintained that royal reporter Clive Goodman, jailed for hacking phones belonging to members of the royal household, was the only journalist involved in the practice.
McMullan is one of six former News of the World journalists who have independently told the Guardian that Coulson, who was deputy editor from 2000 and editor from January 2003 to January 2007, knew that his reporters were engaging in unlawful acts.
McMullan’s decision to speak publicly about illegal techniques at the paper came as the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, paved the way for a second, powerful committee of MPs to investigate the scandal.
The cross-party standards and privileges committee has more powers to summon witnesses than the culture committee which has already reported on the affair, and the home affairs committee which announced on Tuesday that it would examine phone-hacking.
Coulson also faced mounting pressure to step down from his £140,000 post as David Cameron’s communications chief as a YouGov poll found that 52% of voters thought he should quit with just 24% saying he should stay in the job.
All six of the former journalists who worked for Coulson at the News of the World paint the same picture of a newsroom where private investigators were used routinely to gather information by illegal means and where some reporters did so themselves. They say senior editors knew about this, because reporters could not commission private investigators without going through their desk editor; because editors routinely demanded to know the source of information in stories; and because executives kept tight control of their budgets.