Nobody who followed the Hacking Trial, or has checked out the must-listen podcast Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder, will need any introduction to the use by the late and not at all lamented Screws of what are known as The Dark Arts. The best-selling Murdoch tabloid was, at the time the hacking scandal was unearthed by Nick Davies in the Guardian during 2009, being run as a borderline criminal enterprise.
In many ways the paper operated above the law. It has been made clear over the years that Police forces were reluctant to go after such enterprises for fear they would lose their backing and cooperation when they needed it. And now we know that one instance of this reluctance was not just over phone hacking, but one of the most infamous instances of it - that of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler in 2002.
As the BBC has reported today, “An internal Surrey Police report on the hacking of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone has concluded it should have been investigated but was not … The force said the failure was a ‘matter of deep regret’ and that it had apologised to the Dowler family for the distress it had caused them … The News of the World contacted Surrey Police on 13 April 2002 to say it had information from Milly's voicemail”.
Yes, the Murdoch mafiosi contacted the cops and effectively told them that they, or someone known to them, had been openly flouting the law. And said cops did nothing about it: “The report said that when it became apparent that messages on Milly's phone had been intercepted, the primary focus of the investigation team was ‘rightly’ on finding Milly and bringing her killer to justice”. But after that, perhaps?
Well, seemingly not. Because, although the report concedes “senior officers would or should have been aware of the News of the World's illegal actions and the matter of phone hacking should have been revisited and investigated at a later stage”, and that “The failure to do so was ‘unacceptable’”, guess what? “The report accepts the hacking may not have been ‘seen for what it was’ at the time”. Do go on.
“It said that in 2002 the phrase phone hacking had not been adopted and no-one knew the technique was being used illegally by some newspapers to get stories”. We are supposed to accept that the law enforcement authorities were unaware of at least one of the laws that they were supposed to be enforcing. And there is more.
The BBC’s Danny Shaw has mentioned something on Twitter that does not get into the online copy. He tells “But, re Milly Dowler,Surrey Police says it's possible ‘decision was made not to pursue the newspaper because of the potential consequences’”. That, put directly, means a UK Police force was frightened of the Murdoch press, to the extent that they declined to do their job - and uphold the law.
Nothing exemplifies the Mafia-like behaviour, the corruption, the lawlessness and the unchecked, corrosive power of the Murdoch empire more than the plain fact that they admitted breaking the law - and the cops let them get away with it.