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If you want to make contact about any Non-fiction or Poetry item, you can contact me direct on peter at peterjukes dot com.Otherwise, when it comes to anything concerning Film, TV, stage or radio drama, the best first point of call is probably my UK agent.Howard Gooding at Judy Daish Associates (how
In light of the recently announced public inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan, I've copied below the MS portion of the chapter from my book The Fall of the House of Murdoch to aid the resource page set up by Jack of Kent. It could be a useful summation of events up to July 2012.
The Murder of
It's hard to believe, but at 4pm BST today it will be exactly a year since Nick Davies and Amelia Hill published online a leak from Operation Weeting, the newly recreated (third) investigation into phone hacking, and revealed that the News of the World had hacked the phone of a missing 13 year old s
The critically acclaimed US television drama could not be made here. We have writing talent in abundance, but its output is controlled by a stifling monopoly—the BBC. Plus, an interview with The Wire's creator David SimonRead Prospect’s interview with The Wire’s creator David Simon, in which
No, there is no major news about the three major investigations into multiple phone and computer hacking, bribing police officials, or perverting the course of justice by News International in the the UK. Nor is there any major development in the DOJ investigation into the parent company
Today in the High Court, News Group Newpapers, the News Corp subsidiary responsible for the defunct News of the World and The Sun, is settling dozens of hacking and surveillance claimsin an attempt to avoid a high court case on Feb 13th which could result in punitive damages.
There are over 60 hack
Plain text beneath the fold
Neither a philosopher, critic nor scholar, somehow Waiter Benjamin (born 15 July 1892) succeeded in being all three at once.His friend Bertolt Brecht called his suicide in 1940
For anyone following the #hackgate FOTHOM diaries, you'll know that that the slow motion crash of Murdoch's UK Empire is still developing. But it wasn't until Rush Limbaugh's recent implosion that I began to think this isn't just about News Corp, even though it is the world's 3rd biggest media group
Exclusive to Prospect online, the full transcript of Peter Jukes's interview with historian and author Tony Judt
Peter Jukes (right) with Judt (middle), 2007
Tony Judt died, surrounded by his family, on the evening of August 6th, 2010. The New York Times obituary can be read here. This
WHEN Peter Jukes let it be known last year that he was writing a book called The Fall of the House of Murdoch, a senior Sun editor emailed him to say: "Is this a joke?"
But with Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson both now facing charges over phone-hacking, and Rupert Murdoch slowly stepping back from
By Peter JukesJune 18th 201310:46 amCharles Saatchi built up the world’s largest advertising firm and became the face of the swinging ’80s in London—only to be ousted from his own company. Peter Jukes on the reclusive man who now has been accused of choking his
Until a few years ago, you could be climbing any chalk down in Southern England. Trails lead up from a council estate, past a recreation ground. On the slopes above, young men with tattooed arms walk their dogs. The grass is like an old rug, woven with wild flowers, cabbage whites and meadow browns.
English version of the article that first appeared in the Polish Magazine Krytyka Polityczna
Though it claims to be one of the world’s fasting growing religions, and now holds over $1 billion in liquid assets, last year wasn’t great for the Church of Scientology. The news that its most famous pub
Having seen the excellent TV series, I'm disappointed by the novelisation of Middlemarch. George Eliot's book lacks the rigour and economy of Andrew Davies' original. Long authorial interventions ruin the immediacy and the balance between the characters of Lydgate and Dorothea has been lost. A
Today in Parliament
As expected, the appearance of James Murdoch, the Chief Executive of News International (and related to some other famous people) before the DCMS Committee today failed to produce any huge bombshells. Let's remind ourselves that the Parliamentary Committee has no real power
I’ve spent much of the last year on the front line of one of the most contentious presidential nomination contests in memory—without moving from my London desk. I have been part of something historic: the first great political battle to take place in cyberspace.
For many in Britain, blogging
THE DARK WAVE
“Looking out to sea, I noticed a dark black object travelling toward the shore. At first sight it seemed like a low range of hills rising out of the water…. A second glance – and a very hurried one at that – convinced me that it was a lofty ridge of water many feet high.”
As my colonial cousins recover from an overdose of turkey and tryptophan, let me prod you into consciousness with the Frank Miller problem - which also allows me to post some awesome pics.
No, the Frank Miller problem isn't as simple as you think. From his slapdash rant about the OWS movement on hi
It was a long time coming, but inevitable six months ago. James Murdoch has stepped down as chair of News International, signalling the Fall of the House of Murdoch as the dynastic succession to Rupert's News Corp empire is finished. The official statement - which is probably worth no more than a ho
This is an edited version of my contribution to a conference and debate about the impact of the Internet on Literature, held in Barcelona in 2006: some of the thoughts have been rendered redundant by history: but not all of them.
What a great subject for a cafe@europa. Thanks to the internet, I am replying immediately, with my unmediated thoughts late on a Friday night/Saturday morning. I only do this because the subject is so provocative and stimulating. Otherwise I would be sleeping! I think the internet is part of the ongoing ‘electrification of the word’.
The word, the logos, is such a fixed and profound part of Hellenic thinking. It required education, expensive vellum and the social organisation of the monasteries to develop. In the age of mechanical reproduction, to be ‘published’ to be official, required either the apparatus of state or commercial capital investment.
But what do you need today? For the means of production, just a printer and a computer. And for the means of distribution and exchange? A blog site.
My personal feeling is that the age of the word – the hieratic, priestly, authored word – is the exception. For most of history, language has been oral – fluid, shared, unrecorded. The paradox of the information age is that the written word, thanks to this computer, and this internet connection, has become as fluid as the spoken word. Literacy has returned to orality. As Mikhail Bakhtin said – it’s all just dialogue.
So I agree there has been a desacralisation of the word in the information age, but I would also agree that this process began with Gutenberg, with the mechanical reproduction of text.
As Walter Benjamin explained, in mechanical reproduction text loses its direct connection with handwriting, its aura or physical residual contact with its creator.
I suppose it’s not surprising that our notions of divine creation are shaped by changes in human creativity. With mechanical reproduction, human creators became more distanced from their works, and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the rise of information technology was accompanied by the theology of a ‘hidden god’ at work in nature, a deus absconditus, who employed intervening processes of gravity or evolution to express himself.
Flaubert draws on the same analogy when he says that an author should be in his work as god is in the world, invisible but all powerful.
So to me, this information age begins in the early modern period, sometime around the late 16th early 17th century – appropriately for us, around the time of Cervantes and Shakespeare – when there was a sudden shift in what I’ll call the ‘technology of knowledge’.
The question is whether the last twenty or so years are just a part of the same process of speeding up mechanical reproduction, or if something else more profound has taken place.
I would also add that mechanical reproduction didn’t mean the death of god, or the death of the author, but both creators became more distant from their works and their audiences.
About ten years ago I wrote an essay for the New Statesman, updating Benjamin for the information age. I called the brief piece the work of art in the digital domain. Some of these issues were explored there, but one paradox did strike me.
Thanks to digital technology, it was clear even then that, working alone on our computers, we could edit video, music and sound, compose and tamper with images. To me, this represented the revenge of the writer. Sound and image had also been turned into code, and could be manipulated like text. In effect, digitization turned everything into literature, ecriture, and more people into authors.
I think that is the danger in all discussions of technological innovation- the idea that the printing press, or the telegraph, or the internet, came along one day and changed everything for good.
History is not a succession of innovations, it is fragmented, parallel, and discontinuous…Nothing need ‘replace’ anything else. Every new medium has its practical constraints, and ultimately its human limitations
One common complaint i often hear about these new information technologies is that texting, emailing, and blogging are somehow undermining our standards of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
It’s certainly true that my kids ‘txt’ all the time, and message me weird coded messages on chat ‘soz dad l8 – brb’. Sorry dad i’m late for school. Be right back. However, both my msn/txt children are gr8 at school, and just as they shift their accents from the argot of the playground to the politesse of family dinners, they seem very adaptable when it comes to the rigours of exams against the acronyms of text messaging. Two styles can co-exist simultaneously, often with great wit and vigour from the cross fertilisation.
When it comes to rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling, i always remember that Britain’s most creative period of writing, and the birth place of this modern English now spoken and written throughout the world, was during the age of Elizabethan Jacobean theatre and poetry – a time in which ‘Shakspeare’ spelt his name in ten different ways, and the rules of spelling and grammar were in flux.
That’s one way that the new knowledge technologies are affecting the physics of our textuality (and no doubt our sexuality). But when it comes to ‘hypertextuality’, I always feel we are straying into areas of’ metaphysics’, indeed theology, as I pointed out in a previous intervention.
So perhaps one way of looking at hypertextuality is to go full throttle for this quasi-religious approach, and since literature and the arts have classically offered some kind of substitution for religion, then it may be germane to ask… how does the internet affect our idea of immortality?
Years ago, as a tense teenager, I longed to have a book published. I was reading the canon of famous writers, and then books about these writers – Eliot, Lawrence, eckett – and my idea of salvation was to become famous enough that someone would write a book about me. In the years since then, many things have happened – not least a realisation of the limits of my own literary talent – but I wonder if a broader cultural shift has taken place: i.e. the decline of the book, the printed page, as an emblem of social approval, legitimacy and authority.
In the era of Hola! magazine, the National Enquirer, and in literature of intrusive scandalous biographies, probably the last thing now I’d want is to be ‘immortal’ in this way – like Primo Levi or Elvis Presley. But I wonder how the internet changes our notions of fame, immortality and Parnassus.
About five years ago, I explored with an entrepreneurial friend of the idea of setting up soul.com, in which people could upload their lives to a web space memorial, complete with architecture, music, photos, poems and songs, which would act as a repository of their soul.
We imagined it a bit like the Sims or Sim City, the difference being everyone would build their own mausoleum or utopia. 700 years ago, Dante’s image of paradiso was firmly based in the hypertextuality of books; he saw every redeemed sinner as a page in god’s library. Oddly enough, with more and more people having access to publication, we all have a chance to be at least a ‘web page’ in the library of mankind, and have our fifteen minutes of fame. We have got our place in the library in the absence of god.
This seems to be the crucial problem. In this electronic era of information technology we can all be visible. The biggest anxiety is not expression, but the lurking realisation that nobody may be watching. There is presence, but no judgement. Who is going to ‘editorialise’ this mass of human expression? We don’t have a god anymore. But we do have google. Has google replaced god?
I've written three books, the two most recent about the phone hacking scandal, trial and power of media monopolies. Both of these can be found on Amazon.
I don't just write tweets though: this New Statesman profile of Rebekah Brooks is an example of my longer form journalism...
An excerpt from my interview with writer and Novelist Philip Pullman: you can read the whole thing on Aeon Magazine
In a rare interview, Philip Pullman tells us his own origin story, and why the great questions are still religious ones
This battle between authority and self-authorship is a major tenet of Pullman’s narratives. For example, the young heroes of His Dark Materials, Will and Lyra, are ordinary people trying to reclaim an imaginative world that’s been monopolised by the gnostic Magisterium. Pullman readily concedes: ‘This is a perpetual obsession of mine.’ But when I ask if he really is in control of his fictional worlds, or whether, surely, his characters take over sometimes, he confesses: ‘I’m a very imperfect tyrant, because occasionally they do that. You can’t really make them do what they don’t what to do. It’s a complicated, confused business.’ So much for the absolutism, or absolute anti-absolutism.
It was one of the most memorable images of the last election. On the morning the polls opened in 2010, Nigel Farage, a British member of the European Parliament, was photographed in the wreckage of a small aircraft, which had crashed soon after takeoff when a banner for his UK Independence Party tangled with the plane’s tail. Though he suffered cracked ribs, a broken sternum, and a punctured lung, Farage soon bounced back, in the manner of Mr. Toad, a character from The Wind in the Willows who is ever-bumptious, misguided but irrepressible.
Three years on, that energy is paying off. In a recent by-election, caused by the resignation of Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne, the former secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who had to give up his seat after he admitted to lying about traffic offenses, Farage’s Independence Party increased its vote from 4 percent to 27.8 percent—what Farage immediately declared a “national political earthquake.” And certainly Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party, which was beaten into third place, have felt the tremors.
That Farage, with his private-school background and Home-Counties golf-club swagger, should become England’s foremost anti-establishment politician is largely a symptom of conservative discontent with the prime minister’s attempt to detoxify and modernize his party. In 2006, the year he won the leadership contest, Cameron tried to marginalize the party Farage helped to found by telling a radio station that “UKIP is sort of a bunch of ... fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly.”
Farage defied that stereotype, and in the 2009 European parliamentary elections steered his party to the second-highest share of the popular vote, his 2 million votes exceeding those won by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Though Euro elections have famously low turnouts, and mainly animate voters who are avidly anti-EU, UKIP is currently predicted to come first in next year’s elections.
Therein lies the paradox. Farage’s main platform is in the Strasbourg-based Parliament where, a few years ago, he famously described Herman Van Rompuy, the Belgian president of the European Council, as possessing the “charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of low-grade bank clerk.” The colorful personal attack delighted the British tabloids, and Farage’s call for complete withdrawal from the EU continues to appeal especially to older Brits who view the continent with suspicion. (A tell-tale sign of a UKIP supporter is the use of the phrase “EUSSR.”)
UKIP has never won a seat in the British Parliament, however, and still looks unlikely to do so. But while the U.K.’s electoral system tends to default to two main parties, third parties can play a crucial role, as evidenced by the last election, when the Conservative Party needed the Liberal Democrats to govern. However, since they entered the coalition government under the leadership of Nick Clegg, support for the Lib Dems has halved, giving the UKIP a play at the “none of the above” voter—at least in the Tory heartlands.
The threat to Cameron is palpable. But while the prime minister has tried to outflank Farage by promising a referendum on EU membership, this rightward turn seems to have done little to quell rebellions from Tory backbenchers on other issues such as gay marriage. Farage cleverly foments these divisions. His parliamentary candidates target Tory modernizers, bleeding them of support, and he has recently expanded his policy commitments to zero immigration, flat rate tax, and minimizing the government budget—except for military and prison expenditures.
Railing at wind farms from his perch in his favorite pub in the Kent countryside, Farage tries to articulate the fading voice of the English shires. Tilting at windmills may be a quixotic, outdated quest. But, when it comes to Cameron’s political future, Farage may still do considerable damage.
The dress she arrived in told it all. When Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of News International, posed on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice two weeks ago, it was a red-carpet moment. The Leveson Inquiry into press standards taking place in London had already become the best show in town, with a glittering cast including Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, and James and Rupert Murdoch—but Brooks was bound to take the starring role.
Presumably her lawyers had helped her with her lines. And her outfit would have been discussed with her PR adviser from Pottinger Bell, a company that has represented a host of potentates and their kin, including the first lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad; the deposed president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh; and the late Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. When the fallen Queen of Fleet Street turned up in a simple $800 black dress with a white Peter Pan collar, it was the carefully crafted image of maligned innocence.
Four days later, in a less polished performance, after she had been charged with three counts of perverting the course of justice, the victimhood strategy was still in place. Standing outside the offices of her lawyer, Brooks looked shaken. “I am baffled by the decision to charge me,” she said. Her husband, horse trainer Charlie Brooks, also arrested on two counts for allegedly hiding evidence from police, gallantly stepped forward. “I feel today is an attempt to use me and others as scapegoats ... to ratchet up the pressure on my wife,” he said, “who I believe is the subject of a witch hunt.” Suddenly that Peter Pan collar took on another dimension. The satirical magazine Private Eye immediately picked it up—it was 17th-century Salem, with Brooks as Goody Proctor in The Crucible. Last week in Cannes, it was announced that she was about to get the film treatment.
For Brooks, out on bail but still being investigated, aggressive victimhood has become the core of her legal case. Brooks’s lawyer, Stephen Parkinson, a specialist in human rights, maintains that because “so much prejudicial material has come into the public domain,” it is impossible for his client to get a fair trial in England. But a fair treatment was rarely afforded those who landed in her pages. Brooks was one of the youngest editors of the world’s best-selling English-language News of the World, and presided over the paper while phone hacking was rife. During her reign, the paper pursued victims aggressively for headlines, particularly for stories involving pedophilia, child murder, and child abduction. The obsession with such stories led one of her employees to hack the cellphone of murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, in 2002. The exposure of this intrusion by The Guardian newspaper last summer shuttered the Sunday tabloid, and Brooks’s reaction to the closure of the 168-year-old paper was telling: as she told a gathering of journalists who had been fired—she was a victim, too.
After editing News of the World, Brooks became the first-ever female editor of the bestselling daily tabloid The Sun, which likewise thrived on celebrity scandals and salacious political exposés. Brooks complained to Lord Justice Leveson that much of the coverage about her was “gender-based” but by then the inquiry had heard plenty of other testimony: from the actress Sienna Miller, who had been pursued down the street by a pack of paparazzi and who thought her family had betrayed her because her phone was hacked; from the singer Charlotte Church, whose teenage boyfriend was offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for a kiss-and-tell, and whose mother was forced to tell Brooks’s tabloids about her suicide attempt, in part prompted by the News of the World’s exposure of her husband’s affair; from Gordon and Sarah Brown, who Brooks had called herself, telling them to go on the record about their 4-year-old son’s cystic fibrosis, because she was running the story on the front page of The Sun. Even Brooks, whose career was premised on privacy invasion, had to admit to the lead counsel of the media ethics inquiry, Robert Jay QC, that it was the “height of hypocrisy” to complain of being under the spotlight.
For Brooks the personal and political have long been indistinguishable, as she implicitly acknowledged when she observed that her relations to Rupert Murdoch and senior British politicians were “gossipy” and “personal.” During the late ’90s, she came to know the family through Matthew Freud, the PR scion, and his wife, Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert’s daughter. Rapidly promoted by Les Hinton, one of Rupert Murdoch’s longest-serving lieutenants, Brooks became almost a family member of the media dynasty, working in tandem with James Murdoch when he launched the ill-fated $12 billion takeover of the lucrative satellite broadcaster BSkyB—his project to cement his status as heir.
A former senior member of News International told Newsweek how Brooks was “brilliant at the networking thing,” with a tremendous ability to charm and captivate. A Labour Party adviser who observed her working a conference party when Gordon Brown was still leader of the party says, “She goes towards the next whiff of power.” When Brown’s potential successor, David Miliband, turned up at the party, “suddenly Rebekah was at his side, leading him around the room. It was like ‘Gordon Who?’”
However, it’s Brooks’s relationship with the current prime minister in which the personal and the political collide fatally. What the inquiry has revealed is the depth of that relationship, with more meetings between the two than previously acknowledged. During just four days over Christmas in 2010, when News Corp.’s BSkyB bid should have been impartially adjudicated, the prime minister met with Brooks twice and talked about the bid. Her revelation that Cameron regularly sent her text messages signing them ‘LOL’ (which he thought meant ‘lots of love’ until she corrected him) caused much public mirth. But, like the disclosure that the prime minister used to ride a retired police horse loaned to Brooks by the metropolitan police, it was another damaging anecdote that painted the picture of a magic circle of power. According to a senior Labour Party source, “the court of Murdoch and the court of Cameron had become totally enmeshed.”
confidenceThe victim strategy might still work. For all her ruthlessness toward others, Brooks nevertheless displays a redoubtable ability to charm even would-be foes. Gordon Brown still turned up when she married Charlie Brooks, though her paper had painfully exposed his son’s medical condition. Even Rupert Murdoch, on the weekend he shuttered his first big foothold in the U.K. newspaper market, the News of the World, was more worried about his protégé’s confidence than the 200 journalists he had just sacked.
These days, though, Brooks can’t dictate the headline—and neither investigators nor courts are moved by self-pity. Though Brooks gave birth to a baby girl via a surrogate early this year, she is scheduled to appear in court on June 13, alongside her husband, her former assistant, her former chauffeur, and her former head of security. She faces a lengthy trial and possible jail time, and that’s just for the offenses she’s been charged with so far. Three major police investigations have been launched to look into alleged criminality at the two tabloids she used to edit. Though Britain has no explicit plea-bargain system, cooperation can be taken into account during sentencing by the presiding judge. But with a reported $3 million severance package from News International, plus the use of a chauffeur-driven car and a Mayfair office, the urge to stay loyal to her employer must be high. As a source close to the family told Newsweek, “When you’re facing charges, your loyalty is tested.” Her loyalty will indeed be tested, but Brooks is a wild card, capable of immense compassion, particularly for herself. Which leaves the question: how long will she play the martyr?
It makes Mad Men’s depiction of admen look tame. The backstory of Charles Saatchi, who was cautioned by police Monday night for allegedly repeatedly grabbing the throat of his wife, celebrity TV chef Nigella Lawson, during dinner at an exclusive London restaurant, is far more extraordinary than Don Draper’s—and he remains even more enigmatic and elusive.
In light of the recently announced public inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan, I've copied below the MS portion of the chapter from my book The Fall of the House of Murdoch to aid the resource page set up by Jack of Kent. It could be a useful summation of events up to July 2012.
The Murder of Daniel Morgan: from "The Criminal Media Nexus" pp
Of all the many ‘falls’ in the fall of the House of Murdoch, Coulson’s is one of the most precipitous. Apart from editing the country’s most successful Sunday paper, his recruitment to head up communications for the Conservative Party in 2007 was celebrated in Tory ranks, with Matthew d’Ancona writing in the Sunday Telegraph : This is an unalloyed coup for the Tories, as Mr Coulson is one of the most formidable journalists of his generation, combining a sharp tabloid eye with a keen political intellect. When the New York Times refuted the ‘rogue reporter’ defence in 2010, the prominent conservative blogger Iain Dale wrote ‘Coulson’s Accusers can Go to Hell’:
“Andy Coulson is bloody good at his job. That's why the likes of The Guardian, Alastair Campbell, Prescott and Johnson are doing their best to jump on the back of the New York Times story about an ex News of the World journalist who was sacked by the paper for persistent drug and alcohol problems. You don't think he might have a grudge, do you?.... They all want Coulson's scalp. Well, sod 'em… Coulson took responsibility for the episode at the time and resigned. What do they want him to do - resign a second time from a job which has nothing to do his previous incarnation?”
Coulson had famously been given a ‘second chance’ by David Cameron after his resignation from the News of the World and as if to show this generosity was a virtuous circle, two years previously Coulson had himself given a ‘second chance’ to someone else who had fallen from grace. He hired Jonathan Rees, private investigator, on his release from prison after serving five years for conspiring to fit up an innocent woman with cocaine in a child custody case. Rees was actually heard planning that crime while the police were investigating another – the bloody murder of his business partner in South London a decade earlier.
Coulson’s direct connection to a second private investigator thereby took the criminal associations of Senior News International management well beyond privacy intrusion. As a “close ally of the Prime Minister” admitted to the Guardian, senior Tories knew some things but not others - "hacking yes, axe murder no."
The axe murder in question was that of Daniel Morgan who has – in the words the authors of Dial M for Murdoch - one of the Britain’s biggest unsolved crimes (Watson & Hickman, 2012, pp. 107-10, 167-181). Daniel’s case has undergone no less than five separate police investigations over the last quarter century at a cost of between £20-£40 million but still with no resolution for his brother, mother or children. The most recent murder trial of Rees and his associates collapsed in technicalities and the backlog of three quarters of a million pieces of paperwork as recently as March 2011. Daniel’s family now accept that the entangled and knotted history of his case may now never be solved in a way to satisfy any criminal courts, but they still want a public inquiry at least to separate some threads. Of those threads the combination of News International involvement and extensive police corruption in South London are salient enough to justify the term ‘criminal media nexus’.
Daniel Morgan’s Southern Investigations was a small but successful private security company that investigated car theft by organised gangs. Work would often take him on travels abroad to investigate corporate fraud. As he got busier, Daniel formed a partnership with Jonathan Rees in the mid-eighties. However, tensions soon built up. According to his brother, Alastair Morgan, Daniel had always avoided jobs involving cash transits, and fell out with Rees when he undertook such a job and a large amount of cash went missing. (Morgan A. , 2012) By spring 1987, Daniel was even more concerned. The private detective told his brother how he’d discovered a network of corrupt police officers in London, led by a senior officer. A colleague of Daniel’s now claims Daniel planned to sell this story of police corruption to a newspaper, and was negotiating with the News of the World. Under Parliamentary privilege, the MP Tom Watson alleged that Daniel approached the tabloid’s crime reporter Alec Marunchak, who offered him £40,000 for the story. Marunchak has vehemently denied this.
On 10 March 1987, half an hour after he was seen drinking with Rees at the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, Morgan was found dead in the pub car park next to his BMW with a large fatal axe wound to the back of his head. His trouser pockets were ripped, and notes that he had earlier been seen writing were missing. Gone too was his watch, although Daniel’s wallet, containing a large sum of money, was still in his jacket pocket.
One of the first detectives assigned to the murder case, DS Sid Fillery stationed at Catford police station, turned out to have been moonlighting for Southern Investigations. In April, he, Jonathan Rees and two other police officers were arrested on suspicion of murder, along with Rees’ brothers-in-law Glenn and Garry Vian. All were then released without charge. By the time the inquest into Daniel Morgan's death took place the following year, Fillery had retired from the police, and replaced Daniel as Rees’ partner in Southern Investigations. The coroner heard claims that police officers were involved in the murder, and had tampered with evidence and interfered with witnesses: Hampshire police then launched their own investigation. In 1988 they arrested Jonathan Rees and charged him with the murder, but charges were dropped again soon because of a lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, Rees was pursuing a lucrative career working for Fleet Street, and soon was claiming the News of the World alone paying him more than £150,000 a year. All this emerged through the surveillance of Southern Investigation in a third secret police inquiry into the unsolved murder. But the third inquiry was interrupted when Rees was overhead planning to plant cocaine on a mother in a custody battle. Rees was arrested and in December 2000 sentenced for seven years imprisonment for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
While Rees was in prison, a fourth inquiry was launched in 2002-2003, led by David Cook. As his wife, Jacqui Hames, a former police officer, explained to the Leveson Inquiry, News International – who had unbeknownst to the police employed Rees extensively before his emprisonment - took an acute and disturbing interest in the case. Hames broke down as she told Lord Justice Leveson how her family was followed and their phones were hacked in a News of the World operation she claimed was led by Alex Marunchak. Coincidentally, Marunchak, with a Ukrainian background was also revealed in 2011 to have had a side line as translator for Scotland Yard for 21 years.
Marunchak’s boss, Rebekah Brooks, then editor of News of the World, was confronted about this surveillance both by Scotland Yard’s chief press officer, Dick Fedorcio, and Cook himself. On both occasions Brooks said the surveillance was only initiated because she believed Cook and Hames were having an affair. This was an “absolutely pathetic” justification according to Hames who went on to explain: "We had by then been married for four years, had been together for 11 years and had two children!" Hames contends that the real reason was to scupper the police inquiries: "I believe that the real reason for the NoW placing us under surveillance was that suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder inquiry were using their association with a powerful and well-resourced newspaper to try to intimidate us and so attempt to subvert the investigation."
After his release from prison in 2005, Rees began to work almost exclusively for News of the World where his main point of contact is reported to have been Alex Marunchak. The relationship was alleged to have been so close that Marunchak registered his company at the same address.
By the time Andy Coulson’s connections to Rees emerged, the former editor was Director of Communications for the Conservative Party, and the private investigator could not be named because of a new murder trial that had begun in 2008 and would continue for another three years. When Andy Coulson entered Number Ten Downing Street in May 2010, the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger, made a personal call to a Cameron senior staff member to warn him of Coulson’s connection to Rees. It took until March 2011, when the case collapsed through failed disclosure and doubts about two supergrasses, for the truth to be made public. Nick Davies, who described Fillery and Rees as building an "empire of corruption" after getting away with Daniel Morgan's murder, wrote with Vikram Dodd in the Guardian:
“Rees, now aged 56, worked regularly for the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror as well as for the News of the World. His numerous targets included members of the royal family whose bank accounts he penetrated; political figures including Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell; rock stars such as Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and George Michael; the Olympic athlete Linford Christie and former England footballer Gary Lineker; TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan; and people associated with tabloid story topics, including the daughter of the former miners leader Arthur Scargill and the family of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.
Jonathan Rees paid a network of corrupt police officers who sold him confidential records. He boasted of other corrupt contacts in banks and government organisations; hired specialists to "blag" confidential data from targets' current accounts, phone records and car registration; allegedly used "Trojan horse" emails to extract information from computers; and – according to two sources – commissioned burglaries to obtain material for journalists...”
Looking back on Jonathan Rees’ proven criminal acts and allegations they dwarf in depth of criminality (if not in scale) any of the activities of Glen Mulcaire: yet, for reasons of their own, Operation Weeting team has excluded a large quantity of Rees’ material from their investigation. Just as the rogue reporter defence was never credible, the known facts about Rees prove that Mulcaire was not the sole private investigator hired by News International, let alone other Fleet Street papers. But the press’ reliance of covert and illicit sources of material has made them masters of selective disclosure – happy to reveal other people’s secrets, adamant about keeping their own. News International was certainly the market leader in this kind of criminal activity, but certainly – as both Steve Whittamore and Jonathan Rees demonstrate – not alone.
For the family of Daniel Morgan, however, a quarter of a century has passed with no resolution, and none in sight. Alastair Morgan is still campaigning for some kind of justice for his brother, and seeks a full judicial inquiry, hopefully to reach some kind of conclusion while his mother is still alive. He still remembers one his last meetingss with Daniel at his office. Rees came in and took Daniel outside for 'private word'. When Daniel returned ten minutes later, he walked up to the window. Alastair asked if anything was the matter, and Daniel replied, concerned but not frightened: "Bent officers. They're all over the place down here." He then mentioned to his brother the name of a police officer at the heart of the corruption in the south London police. Alastair has wracked his brains many times to remember the name – it was very bland and unmemorable. He has heard several names since which sound familiar and though he wishes he could be sure what Daniel said, the passage of time has clouded his memory.
From the grim used-car lots and pub car-parks of South London, the taint of complicity in the bond forged between the police and News International during the Wapping conflict would continue into the blue skies of satellite broadcasting and the new frontiers of cybercrime. ....
WHEN Peter Jukes let it be known last year that he was writing a book called The Fall of the House of Murdoch, a senior Sun editor emailed him to say: "Is this a joke?"
But with Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson both now facing charges over phone-hacking, and Rupert Murdoch slowly stepping back from his British newspaper holdings, it looks like a prescient title.
The old adage – "Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel" – no longer fits. Much ink has been expended on the Australia media baron, from Michael Wolff's acidic biography to Tom Watson's plodding account of the phone-hacking scandal. The Fall of the House of Murdoch is refreshing as it examines the ideas that have driven the modern western world to its current crisis.
It's hard to believe, but at 4pm BST today it will be exactly a year since Nick Davies and Amelia Hill published online a leak from Operation Weeting, the newly recreated (third) investigation into phone hacking, and revealed that the News of the World had hacked the phone of a missing 13 year old schoolgirl, who was found dead six months later, murdered by Levi Bellfield.
That headline changed the political scene here in the UK. Within days the News of the World had closed, and New Corp were forced to withdraw their takeover bid for Britain's most lucrative broadcaster, BSkyB. Within two weeks James and Rupert Murdoch were summoned to appear before a Parliamentary select committee, and David Cameron was forced to set up the Leveson Inquiry.
The Net Closes In
Just as it seems some kind of legal injunction managed to stop the broadcast of last night's much anticipated BBC Panorama documentary on Murdoch's spying activities on other rivals, the police leap into action with the biggest number of arrests since the Hackgate scandal begun. Six people were arrested this morning in early morning raids on the very serious charge of perverting the course of justice, a common law offence which can carry a life imprisonment sentence.
For anyone following the #hackgate FOTHOM diaries, you'll know that that the slow motion crash of Murdoch's UK Empire is still developing. But it wasn't until Rush Limbaugh's recent implosion that I began to think this isn't just about News Corp, even though it is the world's 3rd biggest media group and run as a one-man-band. It was in Meteor Blade's Nopology diary early this week, that this thought came to me:
I know I'm not going to be popular burning this particular bridge, but as news comes out about Assange both claiming intellectual copyright on wikileaks, and enabling the persecution (or worse) of dissidents in one of the few remaining Stalinist states in Europe, let me say: Julian, J'Accuse.
This is nothing to do with potential rape charges, or the appeal he still has with the British Supreme court about his extradition. It has nothing to do with the wikileaks data dump of Pentagon and Embassy files, which doesn't seem to have the horrendous effect predicted. It also has nothing to do with the court martial of Bradley Manning, nor indeed the treatment (cruel to my mind) he seems to have received while held by the DOD. It has to do with his insouciance about the people exposed through his actions, and even more to do with whom he exposes them too.
Personal disclosure first. My judgement about Assange is highly coloured by a friend of mine, the sterling UK based American investigative journalist Heather Brooke, who exposed the MPs expenses scandal here, and is one of our great promoters of transparency and open government. She worked with Assange on the Guardian's (selected) wikileaks release. If she now thinks he has gone beyond the pale - I trust her, and he has.
Heather linked recently to a New Statesman article which exposed how wikileaks dealt directly with the autocratic Belarus Government in Minsk, one of Europe's few surviving dictatorships:
In December 2010, Israel Shamir, a WikiLeaks associate and an intimate friend of Julian Assange -- so close, in fact, that he outed the Swedish women who claim to be victims of rape and sexual assault by Assange -- allegedly travelled to Belarus with a cache of unredacted American diplomatic cables concerning the country. He reportedly met Lukashenko's chief of staff, Vladimir Makei, handed over the documents to the government, and stayed in the country to "observe" the presidential elections.
When Lukashenko pronounced himself the winner on 19 December 2010 with nearly 80 per cent of the vote, Belarusians reacted by staging a mass protest. Lukashenko dispatched the state militia. As their truncheons bloodied the squares and streets of the capital, Minsk, Shamir wrote a story in the American left-wing journal Counterpunch extolling Lukashenko ("The president of Belarus ... walks freely among his people"), deriding the dictator's opponents ("The pro-western 'Gucci' crowd", Shamir called them), and crediting WikiLeaks with exposing America's "agents" in Belarus ("WikiLeaks has now revealed how... undeclared cash flows from the U.S. coffers to the Belarus 'opposition' ").
The following month, Soviet Belarus, a state-run newspaper, began serializing what it claimed to be extracts from the cables gifted to Lukashenko by WikiLeaks. Among the figures "exposed" as recipients of foreign cash were Andrei Sannikov, a defeated opposition presidential candidate presently serving a five-year prison sentence; Oleg Bebenin, Sannikov's press secretary, who was found dead in suspicious circumstances months before the elections; and Vladimir Neklyayev, the writer and former president of Belarus PEN, who also ran against Lukashenko and is now under house arrest.
Did Assange at this point repudiate Shamir or speak up against Lukashenko? No. Instead he upbraided Ian Hislop for publishing an article in the Private Eye that exposed Shamir as a Holocaust denier and white supremacist. There was, he claimed, a "conspiracy" against him by "Jewish" journalists at the Guardian. Addicted to obedience from others and submerged in a swamp of conspiracy theories, Assange's reflexive reaction to the first hint of disagreement by his erstwhile friends was to hold malign Jews responsible.
His subsequent attempts to distance himself from Shamir were undermined when James Ball, a former WikiLeaks staffer, revealed that not only did Assange authorise Shamir's access to the cables -- how else could he have got hold of the documents from this impenetrably secretive organisation consecrated to transparency? -- he also stopped others from criticising Shamir even after news of his Belarusian expedition became public.
Another personal disclosure. I'm a regular visitor to Poland, and have connections to several dissident Belarus groups (through relatives) who have been persecuted, imprisoned and repressed by Lukashenko in the last 15 years. That more could be outed and endangered by Shamir and Assange puts the organisation of wikileaks beyond the pale.
I believe in transparency and openness. But I also know that knowledge is power. Perhaps Assange provides a service to well connected internet savvy people in some countries when they want to take on their autocrats, but naivete is no excuse for simultaneously revealing the secrets of persecuted minorities.
And if you're still in doubt about the character and motivations of Assange, perhaps read the Guardian book WIKILEAKS: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy. There you'll see he not only betrays Nick Davies, the wonderful investigative journalist who - against all the odds of police and political pressure and corporate coverup - exposed the Hackgate scandal and brought down Murdoch's News International - he also told David Leigh about Afghani informants being in danger:
Assange initially rejected pleas to redact documents to protect sources. At an early meeting with international reporters in a restaurant he told them: " 'Well, they're informants,' he said. 'So, if they get killed, they've got it coming to them. They deserve it.' There was, for a moment, silence around the table."
The bridge was smouldering then. It's burnt now
Originally posted on Daily Kos
It was a long time coming, but inevitable six months ago. James Murdoch has stepped down as chair of News International, signalling the Fall of the House of Murdoch as the dynastic succession to Rupert's News Corp empire is finished. The official statement - which is probably worth no more than a host of News Corp press statements which have either turned out to be highly misleading in the past (some outright lies indeed)
News Corporation today announced that, following his relocation to the company's headquarters in New York, James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer, has relinquished his position as executive chairman of News International, its UK publishing unit. Tom Mockridge, chief executive officer of News International, will continue in his post and will report to News Corporation president and COO Chase Carey. "We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs," said Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, News Corporation. "He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB. Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations." "I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public and am confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge," said James Murdoch. "With the successful launch of the Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As deputy chief operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation's international television businesses and other key initiatives across the company."
More as I get it. OK, this is all on the hoof. Yes James resigned from other subsidiary boards several months ago as I detailed in another diary. But this is the biggie: NI was bidding for BSkyB which he also chairs - expect a resignation there too. More news in - still involved in BSkyB - but again this is slow withdrawal. Expect more retreats soon http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/feb/29/james-murdoch-resigns-news-international-chairman
Wednesday's move sees him give up responsibility for News Corp's crisis-hit British newspaper operation as he completes his relocation to New York. The man once seen as his father Rupert Murdoch's automatic heir at the top of News Corp retains existing responsibility for "global television", overseeing busineses including the company's 39% stake in BSkyB, Sky-branded pay-TV companies in Europe and Star in Asia – and only gains the opportunity to become involved with the company's US Fox television operation as he settles in across the Atlantic. James Murdoch's managerial move away from News International explains why he was not in London to help oversee the launch of the Sun's Sunday edition, which has been personally supervised by his father. Friends say he has been eager to leave the UK and drop responsibility for the Wapping newspapers for several months as the phone hacking scandal enveloped the London outpost of the organisation.
And there are rumours of a major arrest in the pipeline.. just sayin' IMPORTANT ASIDE: I've been in touch with Alastair Morgan, whose brother Daniel was brutally murdered in South London in 1988, by suspects with close connection to the NoW hacking team. These same individuals were sponsored by NoW to harass and survey the police detectives re-examining the case in 2002. Ceebs had a diary yesterday about it, Murdoch and Murder. Tom Watson is going to make an important statement at 4pm BST (11 am EST) about Daniel Morgan's murder. I expect, under Parliamentary privilege, he might make some explosive revelations.