Jul. 20th, 2011

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One front of phone hacking fallout is the prime minister's having hired one of the alleged NotW hackers as communications director, first for the Conservative Party and then as the news director for the Prime Minister.

The opposition leader Miliband and others are trying to make something out of this, which is a serious error of judgment on the part of Cameron, who has stubbornly defended both Coulson, the editor in question, and his decision to hire him.

What is emerging is that Cameron's enemies -- now, most formidably, Scotland Yard itself -- are trying to make stick is the fury of the Scotland Yard executives, who, using a defense similar to Murdoch and Brooks -- we're not the only dirty dogs in this fiasco -- are disclosing details of their relation with the prime minister in their testimony before Parliament.

Their explicitly expressed anger is that if their two senior officers, Stephenson and Yates, the two senior police officers in Britain, had to resign because they hired an NotW executive (Wallis), why should the Prime Minister, who hired an even skankier NotW executive (Coulson), not resign also?

What both Stephenson, who resigned on Sunday, and Yates, ditto, told Parliament on Monday is that they both warned the prime minister's chief of staff about phone hacking matters, and the chief of staff asked them explicitly not to contaminate the prime minister with such information.

The prime minister -- and this is the very nice thing about making a cop your enemy -- was forced to release the text of emails between Yates and the chief of staff indicating the sort of menacing euphemisms these people used with each other.
Cut for the quote )

Cameron is also accused of innappropriate discussion of the BSkyB satellite TV takeover with the Murdochs.

And, quite murkily, but potentially most damaging, in Parliament today, an MP has alleged that a government official was hacked during Coulson's tenure as director of the Cameron government media service.

Finally, I forgot who, is trying to make something out of the fact that Coulson, while government news media director, consulted with his former NotW colleague, Wallis, who was also on retainer at Scotland Yard. If Wallis' two jobs overlapped, and/or if Scotland Yard info was tendered by Wallis, or vice versa 10 Downing Street info by Coulson, this would be potentially serious.

I think if Cameron's got Scotland Yard pissed off, and its well-liked former assistant commissioner Yates is encouraging his former colleagues to release confidential information after his abrupt resignation from the force, that the prime minister is in big trouble. Leaks from Scotland Yard will bring him down; I suspect the Mandarin's phone hacked story brought to bear in Parliament today is a leak from Scotland Yard.

Do they always get their man?
purejuice: (Default)
Ok, Spideysense points out that my fiance, Nick Davies, who has been in the lead on the phone hacking story for years and broke the Dowler story two weeks ago, does not have a byline on any story for the past four or five very, very exciting days, since his appreciation of Sean Hoare, the former NotW reporter who was the NYT source on phone hacking, who found dead last week.

Either Murdoch has suicided Nick, in which case the police would have called us, or, as I suspect, he is closeted with leaking Scotland Yarders getting the goods on Cameron. Former Yard chieftains Stephenson and Yates are reportedly furious that while they had to resign for hiring a tainted NotW exec (Wallis), Cameron, who did the same (Coulson), doesn't seem to think he does.

This, as I point out elsewhere, is the point at which Watergate started to get serious -- when the FBI informant, Mark Felt, contacted Woodward and started to guide the coverage.

Yeah, baby. Age and treachery will always overcome youth and talent.

I await with trembling pleasure my fiance Nick Davies' next byline.

Here it is. It's the second byline here. I have to figure out what that means.

It definitely sounds like a Harbottle leak, based on the "Neville" email.

Sounds like the Guardian is going after inconsistencies in the Murdochs' testimony, which is, after all, the main meat. James' payout to a hacking victim -- in which the incriminatory email and other records were sealed -- is the criminal allegation against James, as well as, apparently, the basis of an inquiry by the British Serious Fraud office which would apparently characterize the misallocation of corporate funds -- hush money -- as fraud of shareholders. Hottttttt.
purejuice: (Default)
...cripples the inquiry by adding the BBC, one of Murdoch's betes noire, to the list of press suspects to be investigated. The Guardian and the Independent, who have lead the phone hacking inquiry, are also to be added to the list of media to be investigated by the judicial inquiry Cameron himself set up two weeks ago to contain the phone hacking scandal.

"And not just at NI but also ... the BBC, the Independent and the Guardian. This is a cathartic moment to sort it out and put it on a proper footing."

This also makes the inquiry untenable in terms of getting it done with dispatch.

The inquiry has been divided into two parts, with the investigation into hacking allegations to start only after criminal allegations have been settled.

In other news of tiny nuggets that are likely flashpoints, the BBC reports that Murdoch has given his lawyers, Harbottle and Lewis, permission to respond to police and judicial inquiries. Harbottle are the people who sat on incriminating hack/bribery emails for years. Harbottle screamed bloody murder Tuesday after the Murdochs' testimony that Harbottle's response to inquiry was limited by attorney-client privilege. In a statement, Harbottle implied that if NI released them from the confidentiality privilege, the story would be very different from the Murdochs' testimony. At issue was the Murdochs' insistence that in every case of malfeasance, they were relying on the advice of counsel -- among other things, on the defense that the hacking was confined to one rogue reporter and that nothing else, including police bribery, apparently, had gone down.

Along with Scotland Yard and its allegations against Cameron, I think Harbottle will be the source of serious allegations against the Murdochs.

I'm hoping this is the beginning of the holy shit story.
purejuice: (Default)
Jay Rock, Senate commerce committee chair, asks Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, to investigate Rupe's road dog of 50+ years, Hinton, who resigned in the phone hacking fallout from Dow Jones Friday.

purejuice: (Default)
Part of the hair-raising pleasure of observing British politics is the skill with which rhetoric -- learned at the Oxford and Cambridge debating societies, which are the launch pad for careers in politics -- is deployed.

There's a classic name for this one, lobbed by Cameron, which only a Brit would know, having read it in the original Greek how-to by silver-tongued Demosthenes. Like the double-half-hitch-Tongue-Fu-Phi-Epsilon-whammy.

Cameron asserted this in his speech to Parliament today, and the salient bit which raised the hair on my arms was how he reframed what could easily be seen as a coverup -- his chief of staff's refusal to be briefed on hacking and/or his employee, Coulson -- as the right and proper thing to do.

No 10 has now published the full email exchange between my chief of Staff and John Yates and it shows my staff behaved entirely properly.

Ed Llewellyn’s reply to the police made clear that it would be not be appropriate to give me or my staff any privileged briefing.

The reply that he sent was cleared in advance by my Permanent Secretary, Jeremy Heywood.

Just imagine, Mr Speaker, if they had done the opposite and asked for, or acquiesced in receiving privileged information – even if there was no intention to use it.

There would have been quite justified outrage.

To risk any perception that No 10 was seeking to influence a sensitive police investigation in any way would have been completely wrong.

Mr Yates and Sir Paul both backed this judgment in their evidence yesterday.


I am almost certain that Yates and Sir Paul said nothing of the kind. And I'm certain my fiancé is on the case, since parsing who is lying seems to be his mandate at this point.

On the other hand, a reasonably trustworthy straight arrow leftish pundit says:
In another easily-missed aside, Cameron argued that Llewelyn was guiding the police towards not acting improperly.

It was by no means easily missed but stood out as some sort of pixelated and vibrating version of another reality.

I wonder what it does mean?
purejuice: (Default)
This piece, cited at UK's Open Democracy, sharpened my mind marvelously.

If true, it explains the nugget of the problem: politicians in Britain were afraid to investigate Murdoch for fear Rebekah Brooks would expose them. Scotland Yard has been accused of the same thing. NI was Murdoch's own independent investigating apparatus, suitable to an enormously powerful entity which, like al Qaeda, is not a nation-state.

This is beginning to remind me of the Ken Saro-Wiwa case, in which a journalist was hung by the government of Nigeria because he opposed Royal Dutch Shell's pollution of Ogoniland.

My Ken Saro-Wiwa bumper sticker is the only one I've ever had.
purejuice: (Default)
There are five issues that relate directly to Cameron in this long-running drama, his appointment of Andy Coulson, his extensive contacts with News International, the activities of his chief of staff Ed Llewellyn, his role in the BSkyB deal that almost came to spectacular fruition and his response to the firestorm of the last three weeks, the first crisis in which he, rather than Nick Clegg, has been the centre of attention. How damaging are each of the issues and is there more to come?


I'd add the explosive issue that Scotland Yard is out to get him, and the question of whether or not NI performed dark arts (hacking, police bribery, intimidation of enemies) for him or at his behest.
purejuice: (Default)
News reports say police want to talk to Miskiw about the burgeoning phone hacking scandal.

While he was at the News of the World, Miskiw famously said: "That is what we do - we go out and destroy other people's lives."

While the world on Tuesday was riveted by top news officials' testimony before Parliament, Palm Beach County once again found itself connected to an international scandal.

A spokesman for American Media Inc. confirmed that Miskiw worked at The Globe in Boca Raton for about two months this year and left several months ago. In June, Miskiw incorporated a company, News Team LLC, according to the Florida Secretary of State's Office.




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