Friday, 8 July 2011

Should the Mail be next?

The top story on the Mail's website today (prior to the announcement of the NOTW closure) was - inevitably - about the scandal surrounding the News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, News international and Rupert Murdoch's increasingly evil looking media empire.

The headline to the story was, "Even war widows were on the News of the World hackers' hit-list: Who else have they targeted?" though it has since been updated and the original version has disappeared down the memory hole (1).

The unasked question was, "Who has the mail been targeting?"

You see, the NOTW was not the only prolific red top employer of shady private detectives. Even though its jounralists seem to have commissioned the most flagrant breaches of decency thus far revealed, they weren't even the most prolific of Steve Whittamore's clients.

Tory grandee Michael Ashcroft obtained a list of 305 journalists who had contacted Whittamore with requests that were either definitely, probably or possibly in breach of the Data Protection Act:
Nevertheless, the ICO data released to me shows that the 305 journalists, the identities of whom have yet to be revealed, commissioned no fewer than 13,343 separate lines of enquiry from Whittamore. These transactions can be subdivided into three categories:-

• those which are positively known to have constituted a breach of the Data Protection Act, of which there were 5,025.

• those in addition which were probably a breach of the Data Protection Act, of which there were 6,330.

• those lines of enquiry which were questionable, but in relation to which there was insufficient information to form a definitive view, of which there were 1,988.

The 305 journalists worked for a total of 21 newspapers and 11 magazines, although some journalists worked for more than one publication. However, the concentration of activity was striking. (2)
Ashcroft goes on to reveal the papers which the unnamed journalists worked for:
Daily Mail 58
Sunday People 50
Daily Mirror 45
Mail on Sunday 33
Sunday Mirror 25
News of the World 23
The People 19
Sunday Express 8
Daily Express 7
The Observer 4
Daily Sport 4
The Sun 4
Daily Star 4
Daily Record 2
The Times 1
Sunday Times 1
Evening Standard 1
Sunday Sport 1
Sunday Business News 1
Mail in Ireland 1
Sunday World 1
The Mail, for all its sanctimonious frothing and screeching, is top of the list. It can't all be harmless tattle about Cheryl Cole type bimbos. Wonder when its time will come?
1 - The original headline was, "Even war widows were on the News of the World hackers' hit-list: Who else have they targeted?" and I know this because I saved the headline. But googling it now redirects to another, unattributed, story, "End of the World: James Murdoch announces News of the World will close this Sunday," published by The Daily mail, 7th of July, 2011. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2012035/News-World-close-Sunday-announces-James-Murdoch.html)
2 - "What Price Privacy Now," by Michael Ashcroft. Date of publication unclear. (http://www.lordashcroft.com/pdf/WhatPricePrivacyFoIAreply.pdf)

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