By John Stone
The News of the World phone hacking scandal is beginning to engulf the entire Murdoch News International empire (Telegraph.com Phone Hacking). After months of cover up the Murdochs are struggling to fend off scandal by closing down the 163 year-old newspaper. Now, standing between James Murdoch and professional wreck is the former News of the World editor, Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International who among other things is in charge of investigating herself. Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, told the BBC:
“What I’m interested in is not closing down newspapers, I’m interested in those who were responsible being brought to justice and those who had responsibility for the running of that newspaper taking their responsibility…[Rebekah Brooks] should go. She should take responsibility. The idea that she is leading the investigation at News International, overseeing the investigation with the police, I think that beggars belief of members of the public up and down the country.”
But Miliband must know that if Brooks goes James Murdoch’s is the next head for the block. The Daily Telegraph blog editor Damian Thompson commented:
“It may look as if the closure of the News of the World is all about saving the skin of Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International. Not so, as Ms Brooks will be uncomfortably aware. She has one main responsibility now, and it’s not an enviable one: to act as a human shield for James Murdoch, chairman of NI and News Corporation’s chief executive for Europe and Asia.”
A National Union of Journalists’ statement reads:
“This outrageous manipulation of the legal right to be consulted about redundancies shows the contempt that the Murdoch empire has for its loyal staff. True to form, he believes he can buy his way out of his obligations. This is an act of damage limitation to salvage Murdoch’s reputation and that of News International – both of which are now tarnished beyond repair.”
It will be recalled that it was six days after Murdoch’s appointment in February 2009 as non-executive director of MMR manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline with a brief to “review…external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group's business and reputation" (Guardian UK GlaxoSmithKline) that the Sunday Times unleashed a new load of flawed allegations against Andrew Wakefield by Brian Deer, followed by overkill columns in the Times of London by David Aaronovitch and reports from outside the Thoughtful House clinic in Texas. These are substantially the same flawed allegations re-cycled by Deer in the British Medical Journal earlier this year, which have been extensively rebutted in these columns Age of Autism The Big Lie, Age of Autism Time To Revisit That Wakefield Fabricated His Findings , Age of Autism Wakefield Findings Part 2 )and by Wakefield himself in his book Callous Disregard, but much of which the BMJ refuse either to publish or to answer. BMJ are also commercially linked with MMR manufacturers Merck and GSK (BMJ.com).
Deer’s original 2004 “investigation” was instigated by a Sunday Times editor who told him that he needed “something big” on “MMR” (BMJ.com). That editor, Paul Nuki, was the son of Prof George Nuki who sat on Committee on Safety in Medicines when MMR/Pluserix was introduced in the late 1980s. Nuki junior went on to run a UK National Health Service information site, NHS Choices (Guardian UK). Last year BMJ removed letters from its correspondence columns asking how Deer gained access to confidential material relating to Royal Free Hospital patients and MMR litigants and have blocked all discussion of the matter ever since (Age of Autism BMJ Bias ). It is not clear that Sunday Times ethics are any more wholesome than those of the News of the World.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.