Journalism blog names Guardian as one of ‘Top Five Journalism Villains of 2011′

H/T Gerald

This may not be quite in the same category as HonestReporting’s Dishonest Reporting Award, which the Guardian won in a landslide, but it’s certainly worth noting that the journalism blog FleetStreetBlues” published their list of top 5 journalism villains of 2011, and, lo and behold…

3 – The Guardian

Inevitably a controversial one this, but the Guardian actually scooped more nominations than anyone else for their over-enthusiastic prosecution of the phone hacking story. Had things gone a bit differently, the paper could have topped our heroes list instead – but after the initial jaw-dropping moment when Nick Davies revealed that Milly Dowler’s voicemail had been hacked, and the feeding frenzy which ensued, things started to unravel.

For neutral journalists it didn’t help that the story always seemed to be more about Rupert Murdoch than phone hacking itself, with the Guardianconcentrating its investigation of a relatively widespread practice almost exclusively on News International. Gloating at the demise of the News of the Worldcompounded the error, with repeated references to the ‘unlamented’ paper when 200 journalists had lost their jobs causing particular offence. The icing on the cake, though, was the furious reverse-ferret executed by Davies, Rusbridger et al when it emerged that poor Milly Dowler’s family had not in fact been given false hope by theNews of the World deleting voicemails – the killer allegation which initially broke open the story. 

The Guardian has since, grudgingly and only after widespread complaints, expressed ‘regret; the word they’re still looking for is ‘sorry’.

By the way, one last note. Despite the fact that the Guardian is continuing to hemorrhage money – which, its been reported, will likely result in another 120 layoffs – they’re evidently still hiring, and trying to fill the position of “Live Blogger for Guardian America“.  

Anyone out there interested in infiltrating the crusading broadsheet (aka, CiF Watch-style Zionist Subterfuge), can apply here


Shameless in London: Guardian’s 2011 Highlights include phone hacking cover story they had to retract

A thorough review of the hottest stories covered by the Guardian during 2011, by correspondent Polly Curtis, Dec 28, noted the following:

The News International phone-hacking scandal dominated headlines this year, prompting numerous resignations and the closure of News of the World, 8,260 articles (including 5,820 articles on News of the World, 3,891 articles on Rupert Murdoch, 2,381 articles on Andy Coulson, 2,365 articles on Rebekah Brooks and 1,247 articles on the Leveson Inquiry)

Curtis also included the following sensational Guardian cover story on the NotW scandal (published on July 5) to further highlight the paper’s journalistic prowess.

Curiously omitted by Curtis, however, is the fact that the most sensational details of this cover story were ultimately retracted after police testimony and additional revelations in the Leveson Inquiry contradicted the Guardian’s wildest claim: that voice-mail messages were deleted by News of the World journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance, giving Milly’s family false hope.

Here’s the Guardian’s Corrections and clarifications‘ section 8 days ago:

On 13 December the following clarification was published: “An article about the investigation into the abduction and death of Milly Dowler (News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s phone during police hunt, 5 July, page 1) stated that voicemail ‘messages were deleted by [News of the World] journalists in the first few days after Milly’s disappearance in order to free up space for more messages. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive.’ Since this story was published new evidence – as reported in the Guardian of 10 December – has led the Metropolitan police to believe that this was unlikely to have been correct and that while the News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s phone the newspaper is unlikely to have been responsible for the deletion of a set of voicemails from the phone that caused her parents to have false hopes that she was alive, according to a Metropolitan police statement made to the Leveson inquiry on 12 December.” To make this clear we have – since that item appeared on 13 December – appended a footnote to the following 37 stories below that contain either the error or a reference to it.

Missing Milly Dowler’s voicemail was hacked by News of the World, 4 July
Milly Dowler phone hacking: Family shocked by NoW revelations, 4 July
Politics live blog, 5 July
Rebekah Brooks: ‘It’s inconceivable I knew of Milly Dowler phone hacking’, 5 July
Miliband says Brooks must consider her position over phone hacking, 5 July
Milly Dowler phone hacking pressures News of the World to come clean, 5 July
News International: Hacking away at the truth, 5 July
News of the World phone hacking: Police review all child abduction cases, 5 July
Warm glow of BSkyB deal subsides as Brooks feels chill of wind reality, 6 July
News of the World: Murdoch takes the initiative, but will it end the crisis?, 7 July
Over more than three decades, no one dared question the perversion of politics by and for Rupert Murdoch, 10 July
Milly Dowler’s family call for Rebekah Brooks to resign, 11 July
News Corp BskyB U-turn a victory for the public, says Dowler family lawyer, 13 July
Rupert Murdoch gives up BskyB takeover bid, 14 July
Phone hacking fall out: ten days that shook Britain, 15 July
Rupert Murdoch apology to Milly Dowler family was sincere, says lawyer, 15 July
News Corp must now face greater scrutiny in the US, 20 July
Murdochs in line for multimillion dollar bonuses despite phone-hacking crisis, 26 July
News of the World targeted phone of Sarah Payne’s mother, 28 July
Sunday Times bans use of subterfuge, 5 August
Milly Dowler phone hackers ‘used more than one voicemail’, 20 August
Phone hacking: Milly Dowler’s family offered £2m-plus settlement, 19 September
News International offers Milly Dowler’s family £3m settlement, 20 September
Milly Dowler’s family urges Cameron to rethink legal reforms, 22 September
Phone hacking: NI confirms £2m for Dowlers and £1m charity donation, 21 October
Leveson inquiry: Dowlers believe phone hacking intruded into ‘private grief’, 16 November
Leveson inquiry told hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone ‘despicable’, 16 November
Leveson inquiry: Hugh Grant and Dowlers to give evidence, 18 November
Phone hacking: Steve Coogan compares NI to a ‘protection racket’, 18 November
Milly Dowler’s parents to testify at Leveson inquiry, 20 November
Leveson inquiry into phone hacking: first witnesses – profiles, 21 November
Leveson inquiry: phone hacking ‘made Dowlers think Milly was alive’, 21 November
News blog: Leveson inquiry: Hugh Grant and the Dowlers give evidence, 21 November
Hugh Grant accuses Mail on Sunday of phone hacking, 21 November
Phone-hacking victims take chance to tell their own story, 22 November
The Leveson inquiry witnesses are collateral damage, 27 November
Leveson inquiry: why journalists should cry – and visit the prayer room, 28 November

The following Press Association articles on the Guardian’s website have also been footnoted:

Milly Dowler phone hacking claim, 4 July
Dowlers ‘suing paper over hacking’, 5 July
Charity to benefit from Dowler deal, 20 September
Dowlers’ ‘euphoria’ over voicemails, 16 November
Dowlers to give evidence to inquiry, 20 November
Milly’s parents attend press probe, 21 November
Grant’s suspicions over burglary, 21 November
Milly’s parents attend press probe, 21 November
Dowlers to give evidence to inquiry, 21 November
Milly phone hack ‘gave false hope’, 21 November
Hugh Grant: Non-Murdoch tabloid hacked me in 2007, 22 November

So, if you include the Press Association reports, a total of 48 stories had to be amended to reflect the glaring Guardian error.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to CiF Watch readers.

The phone hacking story retraction is classic Guardian.

A furious rush to judgement.

A sensational headline and narrative, to impute maximum guilt to the accused, without arduously attempting to corroborate the claim.

Seemingly remorseless even after all but being forced to revise a story or retract an allegation in light of contradictory evidence.

You don’t have to be a blog dedicated to exposing antisemitism, and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, at the Guardian to acknowledge the institution’s shoddy and ethically irresponsible journalism.

CiF commenter banned for noting that Sunny Hundal essay is inconsistent with CiF “standards”

A CiF commenter wrote the following beneath the line of Sunny Hundal’s essay (“Privatising Margaret Thatcher’s funeral would be a fitting tribute to her legacy“) which argued that the future funeral for the still living former British PM should be privatized.

Here are a few extracts from the Guardian’s “community standards” policy

1. We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), persistent trolling and mindless abuse will not be tolerated. The key to maintaining the Guardian website as an inviting space is to focus on intelligent discussion of topics.

How precisely is a jokey article about a living person’s impending death consistent with this community standard?

By my count, about half the comments here should be deleted on this ground, alone. But nasty comments about somebody dying – as soon as possible – have been invited by the tone of this piece.

3. We understand that people often feel strongly about issues debated on the site, but we will consider removing any content that others might find extremely offensive or threatening. Please respect other people’s views and beliefs and consider your impact on others when making your contribution.

Again, it is hard to think of a more offensive thing than glorying in the prospect of somebody’s death. But that’s a fair characterisation of about half the comments on this thread.

5. We will not tolerate racism, sexism, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such. We recognise the difference between criticising a particular government, organisation, community or belief and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.

I would have thought jokes about a very old person being about to die constitutes “attacking people on the basis of their … age”

In short:

- If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems. 
– Don’t be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
– Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

Joking about a living person’s death is a wonderful display of intelligence, wisdom and humour, and is in no way unpleasant .

I’d be interested to see if the Guardian actually applies its own moderation policy.


Then, if you look for the user’s profile, you get this.

That’s right. A user was completely banned for questioning whether ‘Comment is Free’ was abiding to their own “community standards”.

Perhaps the paper is a little on edge in light of recent highly embarrassing revelations that the biggest “scoop” of their obsessive phone hacking coverage – which claimed, in a sensationalized cover story, that a News of the World reporter deleted messages left on the voicemail of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone – was patently untrue!

Indeed, two days ago, the Guardian published a correction, noting that no less than 37 Guardian stories had been revised due to the above false report.

And, they’re worried about a single commenter under a CiF thread, questioning whether the institution is abiding by its own stated guidelines?

Thin-skinned and hypocritical are two terms, among many, which certainly seem apt in characterizing the ethically challenged “liberal” broadsheet. 

Met Police probing potential Official Secrets Act violations by the Guardian

The Guardian’s legal problems and ethical breaches continue to pile up. 

As we reported on Sept. 7, Guardian journalist, Amelia Hill, who was leading the coverage of the phone-hacking scandal for the Guardian, was placed under caution and questioned by police at Scotland Yard over alleged leaks from police.

It was thought that the questioning of Ms Hill, who broke a string of exclusives surrounding the phone hacking probe, was linked to the arrest earlier this month of a 51-year-old detective on suspicion of leaking information to the newspaper.

It was claimed she published information based on leaks from the detective assigned to the inquiry into the phone hacking probe centered on Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.

Now, per the BBC:

Scotland Yard is trying to force the Guardian to reveal the sources behind its story about the phone hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler [one of the phone hacking scandals which forced News of the World’s closure].

The Met Police said it was probing potential Official Secrets Act breaches and misconduct…

It confirmed it had applied for a production order against the Guardian and one of its reporters [reportedly, Amelia Hill].


[Police are] claiming that the Official Secrets Act could have been breached in relation to the original article on the hacking of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone voicemail.

…police were due to go to the Old Bailey in London on 23 September, in an attempt to force the handover of documents relating to sources for a number of articles.

Section 5 of the 1989 Official Secrets Act allows prosecutions for passing on “damaging” information leaked to them by government officials in breach of section 4 of the same act, including police information “likely to impede … the prosecution of suspected offenders”.

The recent police inquiry comes on top of a revelation back in August that Guardian investigations executive editor, David Leigh, admitted (in a 2006 piece at the Guardian) that he routinely engaged in phone hacking. Remarkably, Leigh is still reporting on the phone hacking scandal which ensnared News of the World for the Guardian, and even filed a report yesterday on the latest news of the police investigation into his paper.


Leigh (the brother-in-law of Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger) was also heavily criticized for negligently disclosing top-secret WikiLeaks’ decryption passwords, thus enabling public access to hundreds of thousands of unredacted unpublished US diplomatic cables.  

Leigh’s breach was even criticized by one prominent far left blogger as an act of malfeasance which literally put lives (including whistleblowers and human rights activists) in serious danger.

Rusbridger responded to the latest revelation, that his paper was being investigated for possible violations of the Official Secrets Act, by criticizing the police investigation as “heavy-handed” and “vindictive – words which, it seems, could also reasonably characterize the Guardian’s sanctimonious, ferocious, and zealous coverage of the original phone hacking scandal involving the paper’s rival, Rupert Murdoch. 




The Biter Bitten? A Guardian Reporter’s Prayer

From the BBC Radio 4 news today and today’s Daily Telegraph comes word of the latest Guardian hypocrisy, that a senior Guardian journalist, Amelia Hill, has been questioned under caution* by the Metropolitan Police  in London in connection with the telephone hacking scandal.  According to the Daily Telegraph, she is thought to have published information based on leaks from an officer assigned to the inquiry into the News of the World’s voice mail hacking.

I cannot deny that Schadenfreude rules for me.  It appears that the Guardian, so eager and quick to point the finger at the News of the World, may itself be implicated in the very sleaze it condemns.  The biter seems to have been bitten.

But although the Guardian’s Teflon coating seems to be getting worn, note the following attempt to deflect from Dan Roberts, the paper’s national news editor, who tweeted that the developments were a “bleak day for journalism when (a) reporter behind vital hacking revelations is criminalised for doing her job”.   What on earth could he have meant – that the “bleak day for journalism” was because another Guardian reporter has been implicated in underhanded, possibly illegal and certainly unethical behaviour?

*Interviews under caution are conducted when the police would like to speak to a person about an arrestable offence.  Amelia Hill is likely to have received documentation along the following lines:


A Guardian Reporter’s Prayer:

Our Editor, which art in King’s Place

Rusbridger be thy name

Thy time has come

To be undone

For thy sins against the truth;

But give us this day thy latest excuse

That the readership may forgive our lies

As we forgive thy spin to us;

And lead us not into the arms of the Met

But deliver us from government enquiry;

For thine is the (ever-shrinking) kingdom,

The power and misplaced glory

But not for long


Guardian’s ethical problems pile up: Police question senior Guardian reporter over phone hacking leaks

Now we don't have to read the book to know how they did it

A Guardian journalist, Amelia Hill, who was leading the coverage of the phone-hacking scandal for the Guardian has been placed under caution and questioned by police at Scotland Yard over alleged leaks from police.

It is thought that the questioning of Ms Hill, who has broken a string of exclusives surrounding the phone hacking probe, was linked to the arrest earlier this month of a 51-year-old detective on suspicion of leaking information to the newspaper.

It has been claimed she published information based on leaks from the detective assigned to the inquiry into the phone hacking probe centered on Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.

Hill has indeed written several exclusive stories for the Guardian about the investigation into the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

In response to the police questioning of Hill, the Guardian argued that the case could have lasting repercussions for the way journalists deal with police officers. The statement added:

“On a broader point, journalists would no doubt be concerned if the police sought to criminalise conversations between off-record sources and reporters.”

However, the Guardian, whose coverage of the phone-hacking scandal regarding Rupert Murdoch and News of the World was as sanctimonious as it was zealous, still – as far as I can tell – hasn’t responded to the acknowledgement by David Leigh, the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, back in 2006, that he repeatedly engaged in phone hacking.  As we noted previously, David Leigh also happens to be Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s brother in law.

It was also recently reported that Leigh negligently disclosed top-secret WikiLeaks’ decryption passwords, thus enabling public access to hundreds of thousands of unredacted unpublished US diplomatic cables.

Another interesting twist in the Guardian phone hacking scandal

Image courtesy of Guido Fawkes

Thankfully, the UK Media is finally beginning to report on the Guardian’s hypocrisy in the context of their sanctimonious reporting on the phone hacking scandal – particularly regarding the revelation which we reported on Aug. 4 that Guardian’s Assistant Editor, David Leigh, who was reporting on the News of the World scandal through late July, had himself engaged in the possibly illegal act of phone hacking.

As such, the following report raises more questions about the paper’s ethical standards.

Sky News and Bloomberg have recently reported that a Scotland Yard detective was arrested for allegedly leaking information about the hacking inquiry to The Guardian. Specifically, the detective was arrested on suspicion of misconduct relating to the “unauthorised disclosure of information”.

Indeed, many have been asking for some time how the Guardian was able to scoop the rest of the British media on the hacking scandal – and suspected such an “unauthorised source”.

Regarding the arrest, a Guardian spokesman said:

“We note the arrest of a Scotland Yard detective on suspicion of misconduct in a public office relating to unauthorised disclosure of information…On the broader point raised by the arrest, journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity…In common with all news organisations we have no comment to make on the sources of our journalism.”

So, unpacking the Guardian’s statement:

journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity.

Note the passive language.

The Guardian management wouldn’t be concerned but, rather, “journalists” would be concerned.

And, even that is parsed so that “reporters” would only be concerned if such behavior was “regarded” as “criminal”.

Further, such “journalists” would only be concerned if their news gathering techniques were “routinely” “regarded” as “criminal”.

The ethical wiggle room in their official statement is just the kind of legalese-inspired doublespeak that they would never let an object of one of their righteous investigations get away with.

What is clear, however, is that, at the very least, Assistant Editor David Leigh has engaged in phone hacking which may well have been criminal, and additional Guardian journalists have been scooping other papers on the phone hacking scandal by an exclusive source who was likely just arrested on the “unauthorized release” of such information to the Guardian.

As James Delingpole wrote, in his blog for the Telegraph, regarding what he characterized as the Guardian’s “sanctimony”, “shrillness”, and “foaming moral outrage” over the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking scandal:

The liberal-Left has many vices. But surely the most noisome one of all (in a crowded field) is its rank hypocrisy. If you’re going to take the moral high ground – as Lefties will insist on doing at every opportunity – the very least you owe the world in return if you have a shred of compunction, decency or intellectual consistency is to demonstrate more integrity than those you are impugning. And if you can’t do that, then bloody well shut up. 

The Guardian: Decency? Intellectual consistency?

If this is the standard, then we can certainly expect the world’s leading liberal voice not to “bloody well shut up.”

Phone Hacking by Guardian reporters: How far does it go?

As we know, the Guardian was in the forefront of the baying hounds of condemnation in its coverage of the News of the World’s telephone hacking scandal.  I have a mental image of Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger in angel’s garb, complete with halo, pointing a judgmental finger at the devil-depicted News of the World

One cannot help but be skeptical about the subtext of the Guardian’s precious, pious and censorious attitude.  After all, this is the newspaper which gave us the lies about the Jenin “massacre” (but see also here and how subsequently the Guardian “almost-but-not-quite” retracted its libel) as well as the abhorrent obituary for Nizar Rayyan, Hamas suicide bomber recruiter.  It is also the newspaper which regularly invites terrorists and their supporters to write for Comment is Free. 

In the light of all this and much more, one can be excused for assuming that, given the appropriate facilitating environment, the Guardian would almost certainly stoop to the depths of the News of the World and then lie through its collective teeth that it had done any such thing.

And indeed it has, as we have seen in the latest revelations about David Leigh’s methods of investigative news gathering.

Of course we have only his word that the telephone messages he hacked into were those of “a corrupt arms company executive” since he does not name the person – they could have been anybody’s messages.   

So far as I know there was no police enquiry, and no arrest resulting from his activities.  Had the hacking really been in the public interest the results of it would almost certainly have made the front pages of every major newspaper, which means that we cannot be sure in whose interests he was acting when he appears to have violated the law.  Although Leigh is quoted as saying, the “privacy cards are stacked in favour of the rich and powerful”, what on earth gives him, or any other Guardian journalists, the right to define what precisely is in “the public interest”, and how to determine when such a serious personal intrusion is warranted?

It therefore gives me considerable satisfaction to note that the Guardian’s chickens may at last be coming home to roost.   

At the very least the Guardian will not remain untouched by the dirt and debris spread by the phone hacking scandals.  Leigh, in the fashion of the arrogant who believe that rules, regulations and societal and professional norms of decency do not apply to them may, like Icarus who flew too near to the sun, have fallen victim to his own hubris.   The skewed sense of ethics which underlies not only Leigh’s activities but also his perception of the morality of his behavior is intriguing and disturbing – though not surprising given that this is, after all, the Guardian. 

Leigh’s actions, and his subsequent boasting about them, mirror the Guardian World-View and its perception of the unswerving rectitude of its own conduct.  Leigh clearly believes that ethical norms do not apply to him and actually seems proud of what he did.

A curious anomaly therefore presents itself: 

Although the Guardian is quoted as saying that the paper “does not authorise and has not authorised phone hacking,” Alan Rusbridger himself is on record as saying that “any intrusions must be authorised at a sufficiently senior level and with appropriate oversight.”

(What precisely does Rusbridger mean by “intrusions”?   Is this Rusbridger dissimulation for voice mail interception or other breaches of privacy?  Was Rusbridger’s statement an admission that there are and have been intrusions, or was it another example of Guardian hubris or a slip of the tongue?).

Did Leigh listen to or “intrude” into private voicemail messages without the knowledge or permission of his seniors or did Rusbridger himself authorise Leigh’s “intrusion”?

I would be willing to bet that the Guardian’s and Leigh’s defence will be based on semantics, and on what exactly might constitute “hacking.”  According to Leigh:

“… The trick was a simple one: the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail…”

Note that Leigh calls his intrusion into privacy a “trick” rather than anything else, but the whole incident, as Leigh recounts it, should ring warning bells:

If this businessman was indeed corrupt and engaged in shady arms deals, why on earth would he record his telephone pin number anywhere, let alone print it out, “inadvertently” or otherwise where the likes of Leigh could find it?  One would imagine that he would have more of a sense of danger than to do that.

Even assuming that Leigh is not being economical with the actualite, was it ethically sound for Leigh to dial in to the man’s voicemail?   Was it even remotely connected to the “last resort” argument put forward by Leigh, under which hacking or interception could be justified?  Since we do not know who Leigh hacked or intercepted, we cannot know whether he practised what he preached – that it should be done only as a last resort – or whether he merely took an opportunity which presented itself.

If the latter, then Leigh was on a fishing expedition.  He was not looking for specific information, rather he was hoping to find information on the off-chance.   If that were the case, then how would Leigh’s rationale for his conduct have constituted what Ben Riley-Smith, writing on The First Post, calls a “watertight public interest defence”? 

Might Leigh, and ipso facto Rusbridger, be guilty of any crime if Leigh’s boasting has a basis in truth?  I am no lawyer, but the following is intriguing. 

Rusbridger, being the Editor, and Leigh by doing the deed under Rusbridger’s real or imagined “oversight” may have infringed Section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act, 1990.  Of course it may be moot whether voice mail data can be fully comparable to data held on a computer but, nevertheless:

The Section 1 offence “Unauthorised access to computer materials (hacking)” provides that someone is guilty of the offence if:

• he causes a computer to perform any function

(a) with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer

(b) or to enable any such access to be secured

• the access he intends to secure, or to enable to be secured, is unauthorised

 I have set out above the difficulties I have with Leigh’s story of how he came by the man’s pin number. Added to that the obvious intent by Leigh to access the other man’s voicemail as evidenced by Leigh’s confession and his actions once he got the pin number, however he got it, and it seems that  many more questions are shopping for answers.

All of which actions, as well as Leigh’s own admission that “…it is hard to keep on the right side of legality on all occasions ….”  point yet again to the essential lack of ethical standards at the Guardian.

Rusbridger’s rag lost its reputation for fair and honest reporting long ago.   It honours the NUJ’s Code of Conduct more in the breach than in the observance.   It has the collective moral reasoning age of a five-year old who believes that an action is wrong only in terms of the punishment it will attract if the wrongdoing is found out, and yet too readily sets itself up as the arbiter of what constitutes moral behaviour of the politicians and others it criticises.  It will be interesting to see what transpires as a result of Leigh’s hubris.

Rusbridger has many questions to answer, among which are:

1.  When does he intend to hold an enquiry into Leigh’s conduct?

2.  Whether (as mentioned above) he gave permission and provided “oversight” for Leigh to intercept voicemail, and if so, why did the Guardian spokeswoman deny that such conduct occurs there?

3.  How widespread is voicemail interception as a method of news-gathering at the Guardian?

Guardian Assistant Editor, David Leigh, admitted to phone hacking

H/T Jonathan Sacerdoti

David Leigh


The Guardian’s coverage of the UK phone hacking scandal has saturated their pages.

They’ve devoted an extraordinary amount of space to the row regarding the illegal intrusion into private phone calls, which their editors have denounced as representing “a toxic influence over key areas of our civic life”.

The revelations have resulted in the arrest of several employees of Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct tabloid, News of the World, as well as other British journalists – a scandal which has been described as Murdochgate or Rupertgate and has resulted in an FBI investigation into the possible illegal activities of Murdoch’s News Corp in the U.S.

Inquiries initiated by British PM David Cameron led to several high-profile resignations, including Dow Jones chief executive Les Hinton; News International legal manager Tom Crone; and chief executive Rebekah Brooks. 

Today, per the Media Ethics blog of The Village Voice:

David Leigh, an assistant editor at the Guardianadmitted to hacking people’s voicemails in an article written in 2006 that just seems to have been dug up. Leigh listened to the messages of a “corrupt arms company executive,” and said his aim was to expose “bribery and corruption.” Interestingly, his paper was the one who broke the empire-burning News of the World hacking scandal in the first place.

Leigh (last seen engaging in highly questionable ethical behavior during the WikiLeaks scandal) said the following:

I, too, once listened to the mobile phone messages of a corrupt arms company executive – the crime similar to that for which Goodman now faces the prospect of jail. The trick was a simple one: the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail.

Per the Village Voice post, the Guardian said that the paper “does not and has not authorised phone hacking.” 

In an email Q&A with readers, Rusbridger, in response to a question about what the Guardian’s rules are concerning phone hacking and similar “intrusions”, said:

“Any intrusion must be authorised at a sufficiently senior level and with appropriate oversight.”

So, the questions are:

Did Rusbridger authorise Leigh’s phone hacking? 

If not, when did Rusbridger find out that Leigh, a senior staffer – who, astonishingly, had been reporting on the phone hacking scandal for the Guardian as recently as July 22nd - was engaging in a possibly illegal act?

And, in light of the scandal, why hasn’t Leigh been asked to resign?

What did Rusbridger know and when did he know it?

Alan Rusbridger