Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Helmets On, Lads

Keep calm & carry on, so they say. Advice those on Oldham Hall Street will doubtless receive from such equable & rational souls as Bill Gleeson & Mark Thomas. After all, it's not as though they're implicated in the claims that phone-hacking also went on within the Mirror stable. Oh, hang on, time to don those tin helmets, lads (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/26/daily-mirror-publisher-to-review-editorial-controls ):
"The six-week review is being led by Trinity Mirror's group legal director Paul Vickers and will include all of the group's national and regional newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, the People and the Daily Record."
Yes, that's right, it won't just be the national titles under Trinity's much-vaunted spotlight, it will also include its local rags. I'm sure Oldham Hall Street is completely innocent of any nefarious activities. However, stress levels at the Daily Ghost & Oldham Echo may currently be described as stratospheric.
John Plunkett's piece for the Guardian also contains this illuminating passage:
"Former Daily Mirror reporter James Hipwell reiterated his earlier claim that hacking was widespread at other newspapers, including the Mirror. A separate report on BBC2's Newsnight alleged the use of phone hacking and private detectives was widespread at the Sunday Mirror.
"Trinity Mirror described both sets of allegations as 'unsubstantiated', saying its journalists 'work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct'."
Sorry to be so pedantic here, but throwing out words such as "unsubstantiated" in response to these allegations doesn't amount to a denial, does it? It reminds me of Gordon Brown's former spin doctor Charlie Whelan who would respond to potentially embarrassing or damaging claims by saying, "bollocks". Whelan would later admit that the use of such a charming term didn't amount to a denial, but could be presented as such.
In addition, it's notable that Trinity Mirror's statement is in the present tense, not past; their hacks may "work within the criminal law" now, but what about the past? Oh, & as for invoking the Press Complaints Commission, the last few weeks have demonstrated beyond all reasonable doubt that the PCC was always a toothless watchdog with even the likes of Cameron admitting that it should be put out of its misery.
I do hope they've got enough helmets to go around at Oldham Hall Street.

1.45pm UPDATE: Roy Greenslade notes that Trinity Mirror's wish to get to the bottom of things may not be all it seems (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/jul/26/trinity-mirror-phone-hacking ), as he asks:
"But what will [Paul] Vickers achieve? The company has stressed that it is a review, not an investigation."
Helmets off, guys.

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