The Financial Times newspaper lashes out at Rupert Murdoch and News Corp for their failure to take responsibility for the News of the World’s breaking into missing teenager Milly Dowler’s voicemail and then listening to and deleting messages.(Milly Dowler was later found to have been raped and killed. But not before her parents gave an exclusive interview to the News of the World on the hope that the deleted voicemails in Milly’s voicemail box meant that she was alive.)
The FT points out that the paper’s actions were not only wrong and illegal but impeded a criminal investigation.
The FT argues, reasonably, that Murdoch should fire everyone responsible for the hacking, including the editor of the newspaper. If the senior people didn’t know, the paper argues, they should have–and, therefore, should be summarily sacked.
(It seems more and more likely that Rebekah Brooks, the editor, did know about the hacking, which removes even the “I didn’t know” defence.)
Senior managers at the UK subsidiary should be held responsible for what happened on their watch. The idea – assiduously peddled for a long time by News Corp – that the hacking was the work of a “lone wolf” was never credible. Indeed as the allegations mount up, what is emerging is an industrial-scale operation where, in many cases, it was the first resort of journalists pursuing a story to engage the so-called “dark arts” of the private investigator and phone hacker. In these circumstances, the idea that bosses did not know what went on would be a poor excuse even if one accepted it.
Mr Murdoch must set aside personal loyalties and remove those executives with any involvement in the affair – whether through their role as editors or at a corporate level. That includes those responsible for handling the company’s response. For a start, Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News Corp’s UK operations, should go. Assuming the allegations are correct, as the editor of the News of the World when Ms Dowler’s phone was hacked, her position is untenable. Although she has pleaded ignorance, the final responsibility was hers.
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