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September 18 2011


Hugh Grant: Met police behaviour is worrying and deeply mysterious

Guardian :: Hugh Grant has accused the Metropolitan police of behaving in a "worrying and deeply mysterious" way after Scotland Yard invoked the Official Secrets Act to demand journalists reveal their sources. As a senior Liberal Democrat called on the attorney general to block the "extremely bizarre" use of the act, Grant warned that police were turning on the "goodies" after Scotland Yard applied for an order under the 1989 act to require the Guardian to identify its sources on phone hacking.

Continue to read Nicholas Watt, www.guardian.co.uk

July 21 2011


Not News of the World alone - Glenn Mulcaire might have sold his information to more publications ...

New York Times :: At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, lawyers for the actor Hugh Grant and his former girlfriend, the socialite Jemima Khan — once the subject of relentless tabloid attention — mentioned The News of the World and unspecified “other newspapers” while demanding police information on Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed in 2007 for hacking into the phones of royal staff members. It was the first suggestion that Mr. Mulcaire, who had an exclusive contract with The News of the World, might have sold his information to other publications.

One question: which publication(s)?

Continue to read Jo Becker | Ravi Somaiya, www.nytimes.com

July 13 2011


Zero hour - Timothy Garton Ash: a new settlement between politics, media and law must emerge

Guardian :: Britain's drama has penetrated the carapace of American self-preoccupation. Legendary reporter Carl Bernstein compares it to Watergate. On morning television, Hugh Grant appeals to Americans to wake up to Rupert Murdoch's pernicious influence on their own media. Business reporters track the impact on News Corp shares. Senator John Rockefeller calls for an inquiry into whether Americans' phones were hacked. If it turns out that 9/11 victims were targeted, as suggested by the campaigning MP Tom Watson in prime minister's questions, then this will no longer be just a foreign story.

But what does it all mean?

[Timothy Garton Ash, Guardian:] From the putrid quagmire of the hacking scandal must emerge a new settlement between politics, media and the law

Continue to read Timothy Garton Ash, www.guardian.co.uk

July 08 2011


Has News International really registered TheSunOnSunday.com?

A number of news outlets – including the BBC, Guardian and Channel 4 News – mentioned yesterday in their coverage of the closure of the News Of The World that TheSunOnSunday.com had been registered just two days ago. (It was also mentioned by Hugh Grant on last night’s Question Time.)

It’s a convenient piece of information for a conspiracy theory – but a little bit of digging suggests it’s unlikely to have been registered by News International as part of some grand plan.

When I tweeted the claim yesterday two people immediately pointed out key bits of contextual information from the WHOIS records:

Firstly, it is unlikely that News International would use 123-reg to register a domain name. @bigdaddymerk noted, News International ”use http://bit.ly/cWSHia for their .coms and have their own IPS tag for .co.uk”

Murray Dick added that it would “be odd for big corporation to withhold info on whois record”

And – not that this is a big issue given recent events – according to @bigdaddymerk “in the case of the .co.uk registering as a UK individual would be whois abuse.”

You might argue that the above might be explained by News International covering their tracks, but if were covering their tracks it’s unlikely they’d do it like this.

Anyway, digging further into the timeline of the ‘Sunday Sun’ casts further doubt on any conspiracy connected to News Of The World.

For example, it was reported over a week ago that The Sun was moving to 7-day production (thanks to Roo Reynolds, again on Twitter).

Between that announcement and the registration of TheSunOnSunday.com, anyone with a habit of domain squatting could have grabbed the domain in the hope that it would become valuable in the future.

Either way, even if it has been registered by someone at News International, the timings just don’t add up to a News Of The World-related conspiracy.

So, as I wrote yesterday, a ‘Sunday Sun’ is not a rebranding of News Of The World. They have just closed the world’s biggest selling English language newspaper – its most profitable tabloid – and made 200 people redundant.


July 06 2011


On BBC News - Hugh Grant: How I exposed phone hacking by the media

BBC News :: The actor Hugh Grant has been speaking about how he recorded a conversation between himself and Paul McMullen, a former Deputy Features editor at the News of the World 1994-2001, in which the journalist revealed details of phone hacking by the media. Details of the exchange were then revealed by Mr Grant in the New Statesman. Here an excerpt:

[Hugh Grant, in New Statesman, 06 Apr 2011, 22:11:] ... he was Paul McMullan, one of two ex-NoW hacks who had blown the whistle ... on the full extent of phone-hacking at the paper, particularly under its former editor Andy Coulson. This was interesting, as I had been a victim – a fact he confirmed as we drove along. He also had an unusual defence of the practice: that phone-hacking was a price you had to pay for living in a free society. I asked how that worked exactly, but we ran out of time ...

Mr McMullen joined Mr Grant on the BBC's News Channel to debate the issue.

[Hugh Grant addressing Paul McMullen, at 04:21 in the video]: Your only motive is profit. You are no journalists. You have no interests in journalism. It's just money, money, money ...

Update: For further details of the phone hacking practice you should also watch the interview: Jeremy Paxman asks Paul McMullan, what he thinks about the allegations that voicemails on murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone were allegedly intercepted by the newspaper (second link below).

Hugh Grant vs Paul McMullan on BBC News video online - watch it here www.bbc.co.uk

Jeremy Paxman asks Paul McMullan on BBC News - watch it here news.bbc.co.uk

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