Labour MP claims ‘phone hacking widespread’ in newspaper industry

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by G.A.Ponsonby

A Labour MP has claimed that there are more “culprits” that just News International in the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed the newspaper industry.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday, Labour MP Jim Sheridan alleged that the scandal went further and that “other tabloids” were also likely to be involved.

The phone hacking scandal reared its head again on Tuesday after a letter written by Clive Goodman in 2007 was released and appeared to cast doubt on the testimony of James Murdoch and other News International executives who gave evidence to a House of Commons Committee.

Mr Murdoch now faces being recalled to the committee for further questioning.  Mr Sheridan, who himself sat on the committee, insisted that the problem was rife.

The Labour MP said:

“I just don’t think that News International are the only culprits involved in this, I think this goes further than the News of the World in terms of other tabloids.

“If you’re going to try to clean up the industry and I think we need to clean up the industry then I think you need to involve people like the National Union of Journalists to come in to install some sort of ethics, some sort of code of conduct for journalists.”

Mr Sheridan also compared the resources at the disposal of the Murdoch family to those of journalists and added:

“I would imagine there will be journalists sitting in newsrooms throughout the country waiting for a tap on the shoulder and they don’t have the resources of the Murdochs to defend themselves.”

Mr Sheridan admitted that he had no evidence for his claims and was acting on “a hunch” but said that the fact that the issue had been buried by tabloid papers suggested they had something to hide.

When pressed that the story may have been buried due to a lack of public interest the Labour MP defended his claim and said that hits on the Telegraph newspaper indicated that phone hacking was of greater interest to the public than the recent riots.

The scandal recently saw the Scottish government publish details of all meetings between Scottish Ministers and representatives from all sections of the media.  The documents, going back four years, also contained correspondence between the First Minister and Rupert Murdoch.

However, despite claims by Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale that Labour would match the SNP openness, no similar documents have been published by Labour north or south of the border.