With the awful and tragic news of the earthquake in Japan, it seems wrong to harp on about the behaviour of News International and friends, but the situation is now moving very quickly and none of us can afford to take our eye off the ball.
The devastating speech by Chris Bryant in the House of Commons on Thursday, and the release of new information by the Guardian yesterday, have sent the phone-hacking affair into orbit. There is no going back now. The increasing number of allegations – of widespread illegal surveillance, police corruption, covering up, criminality and the misleading of parliament – leave one almost breathless.
We learn that much of the information has been known for a long time. Guardian journalists were unable to release it until the collapse of a trial. In the case of Chris Bryant, he was able to speak under the umbrella of parliamentary privilege. All this leads one to believe that those intrepid enough to investigate and speak out against the phone-hacking scandal, probably have even more damning information that they are unable to reveal – yet!
One gets the impression that the walls are closing in on the guilty ones and more wrong-doing will be exposed. But there are several serious obstacles, one graphically illustrated in a paragraph from an article about Rebekah Brooks in the American Daily Beast:
“So far, Brooks has largely stayed out of the limelight. Never keen on giving interviews, she’s repeatedly refused to testify before the parliamentary committee investigating the hacking allegations. The committee has not forced the issue, a decision one member has ascribed to fear of the Murdoch tabs. An aggressive quizzing might have led to some ruthless exploration of the members’ private lives.”
The more we learn of this scandal, the more we realise just how deep and rotten it is. If politicians can’t ask questions in parliament because of retaliation in the tabloids, will we ever get to the truth?
It is some Labour backbenchers who are leading the fight in Westminster. And it is they who are saying the the BSkyB deal should not be allowed until the News International inquiry is complete.
We ask again, Ed Miliband: when will the Labour front bench be both prepared and allowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with their bold back benchers? However great the fear, you cannot continue to court the Murdoch press at the expense of democracy and respect of your party. And you cannot continue to remain reticent about the complete unacceptablility of a corporation in the midst of a major criminal investigation buying up an enormous chunk of British media.
The BSkyB deal could be signed and sealed very soon. Scandalous revelations are pouring out. We’re told that Panorama is exposing more on Monday. This is the week to finally speak up. There is more to be lost by not doing so. Hark the words of the song below ……