Friday 28 September 2012

News Corp - Diplomatic Immunity?

A new piece from my regular contributor:

A key deadline has just passed for new claimants in Hackgate litigation. A few 'Lead Cases' may be selected for first hearings tranche - to establish some common case principles - whilst others may choose to settle their claims with News International/News Group Newspapers (NGN) before their cases are due to come to court c. May 2013.  New case-management rules have now been advised which affect allegations over and above phone-hacking alone (Carter-Ruck):
A prerequisite to joining the Claimant Group is that the claim against NGN must be for a breach of privacy/confidence and/or harassment and/or a breach of the Data Protection Act. The claim does not, however, have to include phone hacking, but may involve a claim for computer hacking or “any other investigative method” (such as surveillance) carried out by NGN.... the vast majority of the claims to date and those in the new Claimant Group relate to phone hacking by the News of the World. However, there may well be claims emerging in the future that allege phone or computer hacking by The Sun, a separate NGN title. In an important decision, Mr Justice Vos ordered that cases against The Sun would also fall within the new Claimant Group. How this will work in practice will be interesting to see as NGN has now admitted many of the phone hacking allegations made against the News of the World but not in respect of The Sun. Claims against The Sun are therefore likely to be more contentious and may not fit neatly into the scheme of the litigation and so Mr Justice Vos has provided a mechanism whereby Claimants with claims which are only against The Sun may ask him for specific directions on how their case should be handled.
It is of course well known that victims include politicians.  Some have settled with NGN already, others are amongst new claimants, and a few have opted not to take any action.  Their names have trickled out into the public domain.  And that in itself is problematic. Their very names invoke our subjective responses, dependent on our likes and dislikes ot them individually or their party affiliations - focusing on WHO induces our gut feelings.  A different emphasis is revealed by looking at WHAT rather than who - what roles, what functions, what Offices of State etc were targeted during the relevant time period.
Looked at from this perspective, it's audacious. It's breathtaking. It's shocking.

a)  Peter Hain, MP (Lab), Leader of House of Commons, Secretary of State fro Northern Ireland, Secretary of State for Wales, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, junior minister Foreign and Commonwealth Office, candidate for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

b)  John Prescott, MP (Lab), Deputy Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions, candidate for Leader of the Labour Party

c)  Peter Mandelson, MP (Lab), European Commissioner for Trade, Minister without Portfolio, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

d)  Claire Ward, MP (Lab), Member of Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport

e)  Gordon Brown, MP (Lab), Prime Minister, Cabinet Member, Chancellor of the Exchequer

f)  Chris Bryant, MP (Lab), Minister for Europe, Parliamentary under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, member Home Affairs Select Committee

g)  Tom Watson, MP (Lab), Deputy Chair of Labour Party, Assistant Government Whip, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Minister of Defence, member Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee

h)  Tessa Jowell, MP (Lab), Minister of State Department of Health, Minister of Health Department of Education and Employment, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Paymaster General, Minister for London, Minister for the Cabinet Office

i)  Neil Kinnock, MP (Lab) Leader of the Labour Party, Leader of the Opposition, European Commissioner, Vice-President of the European Commission, Chairman of the British Council

j)  Glenys Kinnock, MEP (Lab) Member of European Council for Foreign Relations, Minister for Europe, Minister of State for Africa and the Unkted Nations

k)  Stephen Byers, MP (Lab), Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, member of Home Affairs Select Committee, Whips Office

l)  David Blunkett, MP (Lab), Secretary for Education and Employment, Home Secretary, Secretary for Work and Pensions.  (Specifically named in Operation Weeting phone hacking charges)

m)  Charles Clarke, MP (Lab), junior Education minister, Minister of State for Education, Home Secretary.  (Specifically named in Operation Weeting phone hacking charges)

n)  Mark Oaten, MP (Lib Dem), Home Affairs spokesperson, candidate for Leader of Liberal Democrat Party

o)  Nigel Farage MEP, (UKIP), Party Leader

p)  Tommy Sheridan co-Convener (Solidarity Scotland), Holyrood MSP candidate, candidate for European Parliament

q)  Martin Salter, MP (Lab), member of Select Committee on Northern Ireland, member of Home Affairs Select Committee, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Schools Minister,

r)  Denis McShane, MP (Lab), junior Minister for Foreign Office, Minister for Europe

s)  George Galloway, MP (Respect), MP (Lab), Holyrood MSP candidate,

t)  Jack McConnell, MSP (Lab), First Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister for Education, Europe and External Affairs,  Prime Minister's Special Representative for Conflict Resolutions Mechanisms

u)  Boris Johnson MP (Con), Shadow Minister for the Arts, Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party, Mayor of London

v)  Simon Hughes, MP (Lib Dem), Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrat Party, President of Liberal Democrats, candidate for Mayor of London, candidate for Leader of Liberal Democrat Party

w)  Nick Brown, MP (Lab), Chief Whip, Agriculture Minister

x)  Joan McAlpine, MSP (SNP) Parliamentary Aide to First Minister Alex Salmond, member Scottish Parliamentary Committee for Education and Culture

y)  Alex Salmond, MSP, First Minister, formerly SNP MP for Banff and Buchan, (does not confirm or deny that his phone was hacked)

Clearly, the majority of politician victims are Labour and allegedly subject to a variety of illegalities - phone hacking, blagging, computer hacking, burglary. The range of political office holders is remarkable, and includes one Prime Minister and two Scottish First Ministers.  Of course these are just the national politicians. The list does not include others who could also be deemed 'political' eg Alistair Campbell, Cherie Blair, political opponents and defenders of Tommy Sheridan or union leaders such as the late Sir Gavin Laird, Andy Gilchrist and Bob Crowe.

If another nation state had targeted the democratic functioning of the UK in the same way - rather than News Corporation - there would be calls for a United Nations Security Council resolution on sanctions, and their diplomats would be deported.

But we'd best leave it there - for one thing, we're running out of alphabet...

Related Articles
Alex Marunchak - Presumed Innocent
The Milly Dowler Hacking - Part 1: Questions Still Unanswered
Operation Tuleta - A Second Look
Some Intriguing Hackgate "Known Unknowns"
Alastair Morgan On The Latest Hackgate Revelations

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at


  1. Good job Brown_Moses awesome details and clear cut.

    1. Jeez, is there anyway to get that out in the public domain more.

      If only the politicos actually had the courage to launch some sort of concerted campaign or class action. Sadly most of them have been cowed, or bribed into silence and acceptance.