James and Rupert Murdoch. Photo credit: 2story
In the documents released on Tuesday, ex-News of the World reporter Clive Goodman alleges that phone hacking was “widely discussed” at editorial meetings; that his then editor Andy Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he did not “implicate” the Sunday tabloid; and that his own hacking was carried out with the “full knowledge and support” of other senior News International journalists. To say it challenges News International’s repeated claim that Goodman’s hacking was the act of a sole, lone, rogue reporter is an understatement.
- Possible criminal charges at senior levels. Brian Cathcart of The Guardian said that these documents could finally prove the downfall of the Murdochs: “Difficult though it may be to believe, documents released by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee are at least as damaging to News International management as the revelation last month that Milly Dowler’s voicemail had been hacked. That news prompted disgrace and resignations: now we are looking at possible criminal charges at senior levels.” Cathcart argued that if the documents “hold up to scrutiny” then “a whole raft of executives … are surely likely” to be questioned by police investigating the possibility of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Cathcart concluded that “rarely can the old line about the cover-up being worse than the original crime have been so spectacularly borne out,” and insisted that that “a number of people accustomed to executive limos and seven-figure salaries are beginning to wonder what it might be like in jail.”
- Circular firing squad. Ian Burrell of The Independent suggested that News International “might dismiss Goodman’s smoking gun on the grounds it bears the fingerprints of a bitter former employee” but “its four-year-old contents are shocking in the face of those long years of NI denial. And, emerging on a day when other NI were settling scores, what we were seeing was not so much a single smouldering weapon as a circular firing squad.”
- Gigantic cover-up unearthed? George Eaton at The New Statesman’s The Staggers blog said the documents represent “yet more evidence of a gigantic cover up” by News International. Eaton insisted that it’s not just the leaked Goodman letter that has plunged the Murdochs back into bother. He flagged up a letter from Harbottle & Lewis in the documents, which criticises the Murdoch’s evidence to the select committee as “hard to credit” and “self-serving.” “The law firm points out that its investigation was limited to whether Goodman hacked phones with the knowledge of other journalists, not whether ‘general’ criminality took place at the tabloid. Thus, it was dishonest of the Murdochs to present a letter from the firm as evidence that News International had received a clean bill of health,” adjudged Eaton.
Here’s how The Periscope Post covered the initial reaction to the publication of the explosive Goodman letter.