2 March 2012
The resignation yesterday of James Murdoch from his roles with New International’s British interests is giving a sense of vindication to an MP who is campaigning against the company. In a Commons debate on Tuesday he indicated that Parliament should be concerned about media oversight where “every single element of the regulatory regime failed”. A consequence is the biggest case of corporate corruption for more than 250 years. (He didn’t indicate the particular aspect of Georgian Britain troubled him more!)
His claim as a victim of phone hacking was settled in January for 30,000 pounds, but he said that the affair still had some way to go. It was becoming clear that very senior figures were involved in destroying evidence and were aware that the extent that police officers were suborned meant that Scotland Yard “effectively became a subsidiary of News International”.
He claimed it was now known that senior figures at News International failed to take their responsibilities seriously. Their involvement in the cover up included ordering the mass destruction of evidence. The Press Complaints Council, criticised for having “one of the most dismal records of public service”, compounded an apparently carefree involvement of the Police, the Courts and Parliament.
There still seems to be uncertainty whether a law abiding and decent media can act in the inquiring, persistent and effective manner needed in a healthy democracy. An irony is that unauthorised disclosure of information by public sector officials is a serious ethical breach, but there is an acceptance that in other sectors whistleblowing to the media is an appropriate mechanism for promoting strong communities.