There aren’t a lot of people in Liverpool who will shed any tears for the catastrophic downfall of News International and Rupert Murdoch – or at their belated withdrawal of the deal to purchase BskyB – although they will sympathise with those innocent of any wrongdoing - who have subsequently lost (or may lose) their jobs.
Since 1207 when King John gave us our Royal Charter – Liverpool and Liverpudlians have been standing up for themselves and for our great City.
And 22 years ago, the people of Merseyside decided to take on the Sun Newspaper after it had lied about the Hillsborough disaster.
Whilst (for a short time anyway) we did receive support in other Cities - people gradually forgot the smear that had been perpetrated against us – whilst others preferred to believe what they had read. But NOBODY forgot on Merseyside.
In 1989 – the fight for ‘Justice for the 96’ began – and - it is as strong today as it was all of those years ago.
To this day, sales of that scurrilous rag have never recovered. However, there are further parallels with the latest media scandal that has engulfed News International.
You see - it wasn’t just about what was said about Hillsborough, (as unjust and as hurtful as that was) - but the whole cover-up surrounding events that led to the disaster – with incompetent Policing and allegations of a Police cover-up/ a frightening disregard for the actual TRUTH/ dodgy Political/Journalistic practices - and a self-delusional belief by the media that despite it being out of control – it was untouchable.
News International has an ever growing list of people that it should apologise to including:
The Parents and family of Millie Dowler;
The families of our brave soldiers, and victims of 7/7;
The former Prime Minister – and –
The people of Liverpool.
This whole saga may no longer be a question of Plurality – but it is certainly still a question of Morality.
I would like to commend the shear tenacity of the work by my Right Honourable Friends – Tom Watson and Chris Bryant. I remember this time last year when people were suggesting that there would never be a time when senior News International officials would have to, (under oath), confess to what they had done.
Those who were more interested in protecting their careers than the privacy of those they were charged with governing, said it was simply a storm in a teacup. I distinctly remember Members from both Parties on the benches opposite to where I sit in the House of Commons pooh poohing the claims that my Honourable friends were making regarding the behaviour at News International.
And for those that believe it was an act of contrition by Murdoch to sacrifice 200 jobs and a 168 year old newspaper title, I think you need to think again.
I won’t add to the speculation regarding the hold that Rebekah Brooks obviously had over the Murdoch’s, but there must be more than meets the eye for him to forgo his much prized buyout of BskyB!
The truth is that the decision to abolish the News of the World was more to do with money than with morals – and more to do with self preservation than self sacrifice.
And had it not been for good fortune and ‘lucky timing’ – (in addition to the growing public revulsion at the revelations) - history would have judged the Culture Secretary very badly. As it happens, Hunt, along with the Business Secretary Vince Cable, was saved from handing over the monopoly board to an owner who would struggle to pass the fit and proper persons test – but may still have to use his ‘get out of jail free’ card.
For once it appears that there is general consensus in the Commons regarding this matter, but not before time. In recent weeks, Britain has been the laughing stock of the watching world as revelation after revelation has been exposed. News International has trashed the name of British journalism and played god with people’s lives.
The man who held politicians to ransom over the past three decades must face justice for what he has done.
He can start by apologising to ALL those affected by his media empires distortions of the truth – and he must meet his Parliamentary inquistors face to face – by attending the Select Committees looking into the whole phone hacking scandal.
This whole debacle demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the Prime Minister grasp of detail and his inability to judge the character of those he chooses as dinner guests.