Britain’s Watergate?

Written By: - Date published: 3:22 pm, July 9th, 2011 - 9 comments
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The Independent asks “Is this Britain’s Watergate? In the article:

“At a Downing Street press conference, Mr Cameron defended his decision to appoint Mr Coulson but admitted his relationship with senior members of the Murdoch empire had been too close. “The deeper truth is this… because party leaders were so keen to win the support of newspapers we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue, get on top of the bad practices, to change the way our newspapers are regulated,” he said. “I want to deal with it.” Mr Cameron said he now thought it was wrong to keep Ms Brooks at the company: “It has been reported that she offered her resignation over this and in this situation, I would have taken it.”

Watch this space – others may now be seeking his.

There are now allegations that News International executives deleted hundreds of thousands of internal emails relating to phone hacking. Coulson denied that he knew anything about the phone hacking, and Cameron’s senior staff were warned about Coulson before he became Prime Minister and took Coulson on as his Director of Communications. Cameron has denied any “specific” knowledge of such advice.

It’s always the attempt to cover-up that does the damage. I was living in Washington when Watergate break-in occurred in mid-1972; just like Watergate, this story grows legs by the day and is now certain to be long-running. Cameron could well go the way of Nixon who resigned eventually in 1974. It might well not take that long for Cameron.

9 comments on “Britain’s Watergate?”

  1. Red Rosa 1

    Some interesting parallels to Watergate, but the UK/US contrasts are also interesting.

    The US presidency is constitutionally very different to that of prime minister in the UK. Nixon was re-elected by a landslide in 1972, and his initial popularity meant he could brush off emerging scandalous facts for months. The impeachment process takes time to initiate, is inherently cumbersome, and the Nixon impeachment was in fact derailed by his eventual resignation.

    Not so in the UK, where governments and prime ministers can fall overnight. There will be many in the Conservative Party, and the Lib/Dems, wondering now if a slick wide-boy like Cameron really is the person to be running the country. If enough decide ‘no’ then his days are numbered…possibly on the fingers of one hand.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Let’s wait and see. Both Cameron and Murdoch will be scheming damn hard to ensure that this brewing scandal effects only the superficial but changes nothing of substance.

    • Bill 3.1

      On the basis that Nick Davies views the whole affair (reasonably in my mind) as corruption and collusion between the Tory Party, News International, the Press Complaints Commission and the Met…where does he get his ability to continue having faith in the police investigation from?

      It’s like he was brought up on too many ‘right will triumph’ movie plots where the centers of influence we invested our trust in (forces of law and order) will come right in the end.

      That strange psychological affliction aside, it’s a bloody good synopsis.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        He seems convinced that the police have now come about to taking the investigation seriously whereas previously (and he was explicit about this), they sucked and sucked badly.

        So I don’t think he is being naive or anything like that.

  3. swordfish 4

    This story grows legs by the day and is certain to be long-running

    Yep, although I’d say it’s already pretty long-running. I seem to remember reading about this at least 3 years ago, when it was focussed largely on celebrity victims and a decidedly dodgy investigation by UK Police. Even then, the scandal had been slowly developing for about 2 years and analysts were sure it would snowball further.

    • rosy 4.1

      And the story was thought to be shut down with the imprisonment of one PI and one ‘rouge’ reporter at NoW. If it wasn’t for Nick Davies and the Guardian digging, digging, digging it would have stayed shut down. It looks like it’s going to run for awhile. With the latest corruption charges, James Murdoch may not be safe in the U.S either and this really will trigger an Ofcom investigation into BSkyB.

      the younger Murdoch has admitted he misled parliament over phone hacking, although he has stated he did not have the complete picture at the time. There have also been reports that employees routinely made payments to police officers, believed to total more than £100,000, in return for information.

      The payments could leave News Corp – and possibly James Murdoch himself – facing the possibility of prosecution in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) – legislation designed to stamp out bad corporate behaviour that carries severe penalties for anyone found guilty of breaching it – and in the UK under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which outlaws the interception of communications.

      Tony Woodcock, a partner at the City law firm Stephenson Harwood, said section 79 of the 2000 Act enabled criminal proceedings to be brought against not only a company, but also a director or similar officer where the offence was committed with their “consent or connivance” or was “attributable to any neglect on their part”.

      It’s getting very interesting and yep, like Watergate may bring about a sea-change in the cosy ties between politicians and the news industry. I live in hope.

  4. It gets better! Now the Church of England are involved

    Posted by Nobody likes a Tory on Saturday, 9 July 2011

    apparently they own US$6 Million of shares in Newscorp and plan to sell them.

  5. deemac 6

    priceless that Cameron can refer to repeated and institutionalised law-breaking as “bad practices”!

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