This News of the World scandal

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telephone exchange

There’s something not quite right about it

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“Oh come off it. This is starting to get silly,” writes Boris Johnson in his article this week for The Daily Telegraph.

Starting with the Royal Family, then Gordon Brown and a few ‘celebrities’, the News of the World telephone-hacking scandal has spread, we are told, to hundreds — to the extent that no self-respecting celebrity wants to be thought of as not having been bugged by the ‘gentlemen of the Screws’.

Across the metropolis luvvies of every type are calling their agents demanding to have their names added to Scotland Yard’s list of victims ;  long serving members of Parliament and cabinet ministers are secretly jealous of Chris Bryant, M.P.  “Why,” they’re thinking, “is no-one interested in my voice-mail messages ?  Are they implying I’m not worth bugging ?”

Meanwhile, like a bunch of crazed lottery winners, the ‘buggees’ are gathering around the News International cash register :  “Your name is Rupert Murdoch,” cries one, “and I claim my £20,000 !”   “Get out of here !” says another.  “I want £100,000 :  £50,000 for the stress and the breach of privacy ...”  And so on.

telephone exchange

As truck-loads of dosh creep away from Wapping — now toward some of the least deserving in modern Britain — a question remains :  if it were so easy to bug half of London, would it be credible that only The News of the World was at it ?

This business was exposed in 2006 :  five years ago senior Labour politicians first became aware that their voice-mail might have been broken in to.  A cynic might imagine there to be a connexion between the decision of The Sun and The News of the World to switch allegiance in the run-up to the last election and this sudden outburst of Labour indignation.  Curiously, as long as they thought they had a chance of keeping these organs of the fourth estate in their camp, Labour M.P.s were able to contain their outrage.

Now out of office and desperate for work as ‘political consultants’, they seem to have discovered their principles.  It is absurd that the likes of Lord Prescott and Keith Vaz are complaining to the rafters, having known of this for years but decided to suck up to Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers.  As to the rest of Fleet Street :  the cynic might make a connexion between their piling in on News International and their wanting to frustrate that company’s takeover of BSkyB.

None of this is to condone the hacking.  As Boris rode the Central Line on Sunday, it occurred to him to see whether his thinking on this subject aligned with that of others.  Next to him sat a 23-year-old teacher named Stephanie.  Indicating the lurid front-page account of the scandal in the Observer lying on his lap, he asked Stephanie what she thought of it all.

“It’s terrible,” she replied.

“All right ;  but as terrible as what the M.P.s did with their expenses ?”

“I think they’re both bad.  It’s hacking in to their personal life.  They’re only human,” she concluded — with which Boris agrees.

Fleet Street

What gives this story legs is that the public is indeed somewhat appalled to learn that the sensational stories they like to read have been brought to them by virtue of what amounts to unlawful telephone tapping ;  it would be even worse, if all of Fleet Street were at it.  Boris concludes that what is needed is a process of ‘Truth and Reconciliation’, each editor or proprietor confessing — before it must be dragged out of him — to the misfeasance of his organization.

Certainly The News of the World has much to answer for and will be made to do so but this business won’t be over till we can be sure they were alone in it — or we discover the other culprits.

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Boris writes for The Daily Telegraph on Mondays.

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5 thoughts on “This News of the World scandal”

  1. I understand that our host is to wear “appropriate attire” to the Royal Wedding. Presumably this will be the toga praetexta?

  2. Doubtless with sword and sandals…and as Cameron shuffles past in a lousy lounge suit, he may reflect not on a King across the water, but the Caesar around the corner.

  3. the Royal Wedding: Most people will never come into contact with the landed classes, particularly since National Service was abolished.

    Sadly a few do: those that inadvertently go to a university, let’s say St Andrews or Edinburgh for the sake of argument, where public-schoolboys and girls congregate, and particularly those who do an Arts degree.

    They stick to their own. I’m fairly sure William will have had few Scottish student friends at St Andrews, just as Boris Johnson and David Cameron will have had few friends at Oxford originating from northern grammar-schools. They spurn this opportunity on the whole.

    We should remember that when we think we how pretty they look.

  4. Dear Boris,

    I have just seen the accident on the News, what happened there?! That was very dangerous. I am glad to see you are well and that it does not stop you cycling.
    I wanted to ask if I could send you some attachments over regarding a housing crisis and its quite urgent. I am a former Imperial College Royal Society Chemistry Biomolecular Medicine PhD student and have some issues that I could need some help with. I would appreciate your time.

    Thanks

    Kind Regards

    Tina Wright

  5. London’s Conservatives declare war on pedestrians and cyclists says blogger Cyclists in the City. He was one of many as cyclists reacted furiously this afternoon to news of walkout by Conservatives which ended a debate on road safety measures in the capital.

    Ten London Assembly members got up and walked out immediately prior to a debate on Jenny Jones’ motion to make Blackfriars bridge a 20mph zone. The walkout rendered the meeting inquorate so the motion could not be discussed. Jack Thurston posted this audioboo of the, clearly somewhat bemusemed and slightly shocked, chair recording the names of the assembly members who had forced the closure of the meeting.

    Conservatives, like Boris Johnson, are hypocrites on transport.

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