Reactions to phone hacking apology

  • Published

The owner of the News of the World newspaper is to admit liability in a number of cases brought against it for alleged phone hacking.

News International has put out a statement saying it has decided to offer unreserved apologies to some claimants, and that a compensation fund is being set up.

Some of those involved in the scandal or with links to News International and the newspaper industry have been giving their views.

Lord Prescott, former Labour Deputy Prime Minister

Lord Prescott believes his name was on a list of hacking targets seized by officers but the police failed to carry out an effective investigation.

In a message on micro-blogging website Twitter, he said: "The NOTW [News of the World] has now admitted mass criminality.

"The government should not approve Murdoch's bid for BSkyB until all investigations are complete."

Brian Paddick, former Met Police deputy assistant commissioner

The former senior policeman, who says his phone was intercepted, said the fact that the apologies and offers of compensation applied to just eight people meant the admission by News International did not move the case very far.

"These are people who have issued proceedings - they've got the courts to force News International to hand over evidence," he said.

"And it would appear that in these cases News International have been caught red handed, and only in those circumstances are they prepared to offer an apology and to pay up".

Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor

Alan Rusbridger says the admission that former culture secretary Tessa Jowell's phone was tapped was a "very serious" development.

He said: "You've got a company effectively bugging its own commissioning minister. Just imagine if a bank was found hacking into the chancellor of the exchequer's e-mails."

He also said it was likely that many more claims for compensation could follow.

"I imagine almost anybody in public life during that period, whether in politics or in showbiz or whatever, will be asking themselves whether it is worth finding out whether their name is on that list," he said.

"And the technique seems to have been so routine, the chances are very high that anyone in the public glare will find themselves on that list."

Chris Bryant, Labour MP

Chris Bryant believes he was a hacking victim. The former Labour minister is suing the media group but is not one of those being offered damages.

He said: "It's a pretty extraordinary moment, isn't it, when a national newspaper, which has been saying for years and years that there was just one rogue reporter, that it was all very regrettable, and that there were very few victims, owns up to a massive degree of criminality at the newspaper.

"But I'm afraid it's a bit of a damage limitation exercise and there are very serious questions that still need to be asked."

Kelly Hoppen, former stepmother of actress Sienna Miller

Kelly Hoppen claims her phone messages were intercepted. The BBC understands News International is to offer the designer a settlement.

Her spokeswoman said: "We are not making any comment on Kelly's case at the moment."

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat deputy leader

Simon Hughes, who had his phone hacked by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, said it was essential to uncover "the whole truth".

"Some of us have known for certain and for a long time that the News of the World hacked into our phone messages, which is clearly against the law," he said.

"Some of us gave evidence in the court case which led to the two convictions so far and two prison sentences.

"But it was always obvious that other people must have been involved in the phone hacking and other victims must have had their privacy invaded."

It was in the public interest to "get to the bottom of this" and put an end to phone hacking, he said.

"If people have committed serious criminal offences, either those who have already been arrested or others, they need to be pursued through the courts and sent to prison because this is a completely unacceptable practice," he added.

Charlotte Harris, lawyer

Charlotte Harris, who represents football agent Sky Andrew who is understood by the BBC to be in line for a News of the World apology and pay-out, said questions still needed to be answered.

"Interestingly in their statement they say that it's a matter of deep regret that there wasn't a more 'robust investigation earlier'. We really want to know what that's all about.

"It shouldn't have been that we've had to spend this amount of time pushing and pushing to get this information, and it's only when the News of the World's position has become totally untenable that they suddenly apologise and then decide it's time to dictate the agenda."

Mark Lewis, solicitor

Mark Lewis, who is involved in several of the current cases, said people still did not know what the the newspaper was apologising for and urged it to widen its apology to the "thousands" he claimed were victims.

He said the tabloid paper's admission was just the "first stage" and suggested other newspapers would also come under scrutiny, some of whom were hardly covering the story.

He said victims now wanted to know the truth about what had happened, a full apology and an undertaking from the newspaper "never to do it again".

Asked about compensation, he said it would run into the millions.

"It will depend on what happened to the individuals involved. For some of these people, it has had far-reaching effects on their career. Some people have lost their jobs."

Ed Miliband, Labour leader

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was important to "get to the bottom of any criminal behaviour" and establish "who knew about these actions and when".

"We also need to know how far across the organisation knowledge of these actions went," he said.

Max Clifford, celebrity publicist

Max Clifford reached an out-of-court settlement with the newspaper in 2008, receiving an apology and a reported £1m in compensation.

Of News International's latest action, he told the BBC: "I think it's the right thing to do.

"They've obviously conducted a thorough investigation and of course right now the police are also conducting what we hope will be a thorough investigation which, of course, they should have conducted a few years ago when it first came to light.

"And it will be interesting to see where this leads and whether other newspapers now come out and apologise to people because my belief is that it was widespread in Fleet Street for many, many years."

He said he would be "very surprised" if more criminal charges did not now follow.

"You can only imagine that as more comes to light, the more the police find out, and the more information and facts emerge, then the more likelihood there is of criminal charges for other people."

George Galloway, former MP

George Galloway, the former Respect MP and a candidate in the Scottish Parliament elections, claims his phone was hacked.

He said: "The News of the World has not yet apologised. They have been in touch and the case continues."

Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times

Andrew Neil believes News International's attempt to limit the damage will not be successful.

"They are trying to close it down with their cheque book but I don't think it will succeed.

"The whole speculation was - how far up did this go, how many people were involved, who knew and when did they know, how far into the senior management did it go?

"All that remains unresolved, and will come out in the police investigation, so it's an attempt to close down part of it, it's an expensive attempt, but this is not by any means yet the end of this story."

He said the decision could not have been taken without Rupert Murdoch, the owner of News International.

"It's a complete mea culpa. There's no way any management in London would have either the guts or the power to make a decision like that."

Tom Watson, Labour MP

Tom Watson, a member of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said News International's admission did not go far enough.

"I think Parliament needs an apology, because it's now abundantly clear that they were misled.

"I think the Metropolitan Police probably need an apology as a result of the original inquiry - not all the facts were in their possession when they did the inquiry in 2006.

"And I think they should apologise to their readers about the manner in which their journalists got hold of stories."

Jeremy Dear, of the National Union of Journalists

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "Now that this admission has finally been made, the need for a high-level judicial inquiry into behaviour at News International is more urgent than ever.

"It is vital that this whole matter is brought out into the open and not hushed up through some in-house compensation scheme.

"The public interest demands that standards at News International, which is spreading like a rash across the whole media world, must be fully examined and exposed."

Around the BBC