It was just over a month ago that The Daily Mirror newspaper in the UK published what it referred to as an apology to “all its victims of phone hacking”, saying that voice mails on certain people’s phones were unlawfully accessed “some years ago”.
The open apology continued: “It was unlawful and should never have happened and fell far below the standards our readers expect and deserve.
“We are taking this opportunity to give every victim a sincere apology for what happened.”
This was the first time that a newspaper that was not part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International had admitted to the phone hacking of voice mails, thus acknowledging what the Counsel representing claimants against Mirror newspapers had asserted: The hacking that took place at Mirror Newspapers was done on an Industrial scale; far bigger than anything that took place at the News of The World, which was closed down following hacking scandals.
There is clearly the sense of a desperate need to bring this sorry state of affairs to a swift conclusion. The Mirror Group has put aside a huge compensation fund to settle with the claimants. The media council and government continue to look into measures that can be taken to ensure that this sort of scandal does not happen again.
That is all very well. They think they have taken care of it with their multi-million pound compensation fund and their contrite words of apology. Idiots! The foolish press journalists, reporters and owners do not realise that sweet words and pound notes cannot undo the damage and the hurt that their illegal hacking of private messages caused to so many individuals.
The newspaper reports of these crimes continue to refer to the victims as ‘mostly celebrities’, almost as if this would be a justification for the gross invasion of privacy that took place.
We have now heard from the ‘celebrities’ themselves. It makes one think. Personal statements read out in court by the claimants shed light on the anguish and heartbreak that was caused by this shameless activity by the newspapers.
We have read statements from a former coach of the England team, a former footballer who has battled for years with alcohol abuse, we have heard from stars in the world of TV and Cinema. Each of their stories follows a similar pattern. They would read stuff in the newspaper which they had only shared with someone close. Stuff that they, and we, would consider private, which perhaps they had spoken about at a vulnerable moment in their lives. The effect too was the same. We would all have reacted in the same way wondering whom it was amongst the people that we cared about that was selling our private information to the papers. Suspicions, mistrust and breakdowns were inevitable.
So, how well do we as individuals guard information that we receive by virtue of our ‘privileged positions?’ Can you keep a secret? If a friend told you something interesting, something that you thought other readers would love, would you be tempted to share, sell or publish their story? Please don’t, my friend. That would be a betrayal. Just like that of those idiot reporters.