Category Archives: Big Media

I’m not that powerful, Rupert Murdoch tells judge

News Corp Chief Rupert Murdoch (L) and his wife Wendi Deng (R) drive away from the High Court in central London on April 25, 2012 after Rupert Murdoch gave evidence at the Leveson Inquiry. Rupert Murdoch tried to downplay his political influence in landmark testimony to the inquiry into press ethics on April 25, even as evidence from his media empire prompted a government aide to resign. The 81-year-old mogul, speaking on oath during his first appearance at the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, hit out at ‘sinister inferences’ about his ties to British leaders over the past four decades. Getty Images

Associated Press | Apr 25, 2012


LONDON (AP) — News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch said Wednesday that his globe-spanning TV and newspaper empire doesn’t carry as much political sway as is often believed, telling a British inquiry into media ethics that he wasn’t the power behind the throne often depicted by his enemies.

Speaking softly, deliberately and with dry humor, Murdoch sought to deflate what he described as myths about his business, his agenda and his friendships with those at the pinnacle of British politics.

“If these lies are repeated again and again they catch on,” he said. “But they just aren’t true.”

The 81-year-old media baron denied ever calling in favors from British leaders and dismissed the oft-repeated claim that his top-selling daily, The Sun, could swing elections.

“We don’t have that sort of power,” he testified.

Murdoch was being quizzed under oath before an inquiry run by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, who is examining the relationship between British politicians and the press, a key question raised by the phone hacking scandal that brought down Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid in July.

Revelations of widespread illegal behavior at the top-selling Sunday publication rocked Britain’s establishment with evidence of media misdeeds, police corruption and too-cozy links between the press and politicians. Murdoch’s News International — the tabloid’s publisher — has been hit with over 100 lawsuits over phone hacking and dozens of reporters and media executives have been arrested.

Showing little equivocation, Murdoch batted away challenges to his ethics by inquiry lawyer Robert Jay.

Asked whether he set the political agenda for his U.K. editors, he denied it.

Asked whether he’d ever used his media influence to boost his business, he denied it.

Asked whether standards at his papers declined when he took them over, he denied it — and threw in a quip about his rivals.

“The Sun has never been a better paper than it is today,” Murdoch said. “I won’t say the same of my competitors.”

The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron following the scandal’s resurgence in July. Murdoch’s testimony was among the most heavily anticipated — not least because of his close links to generations of British politicians, both from Cameron’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party.

Murdoch made few concessions to his inquisitor.

He denied that former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the Labour Party had consulted with him on how to discredit French leader Jacques Chirac in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He denied strategizing with Blair’s successor, Gordon Brown, on whether to call a snap election. And he denied lobbying Cameron on issues including broadcasting regulations, the ins-and-outs of which have since helped feed the scandal.

He did reveal a tense telephone exchange with Brown in September 2009, after the tycoon had decided to throw The Sun’s support behind rival Cameron.

“Well, your company has declared war on my government and we have no alternative but to make war on your company,” Murdoch quoted Brown as saying, adding he did not think that the prime minister “was in a very balanced state of mind.”

Brown released a statement Wednesday characterizing Murdoch’s version as false.

“I hope Mr. Murdoch will have the good grace to correct his account,” Brown said.

Murdoch also owned up to having made a colorful joke first reported by Blair: “If our flirtation is ever consummated, Tony, then I suspect we will end up making love like porcupines, very very carefully.”

But he denied that his personal friendship with Blair had led to any favors, thumping the table to punctuate his sentence.

“I never. Asked. Mr. Blair. For anything,” he said.

Media-watchers have speculated that Murdoch would seek to inflict political pain on the Cameron’s Conservatives, rumors which gained force when his son James gave damning testimony about British Olympics czar Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday. The younger Murdoch released documents that suggested that Hunt, a Cameron ally, had secretly smoothed the way for News Corp.’s bid for full control of the British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC, a lucrative satellite broadcaster.

The bid was contested by Murdoch’s competitors, who feared that if News Corp. increased its stake in BSkyB, it would reinforce his dominance of the British media landscape. Hunt had told lawmakers he would be impartial, but the documents showed his department giving News Corp. behind-the-scenes advice and intelligence.

Hunt’s political aide Adam Smith resigned Wednesday, saying he was responsible for the perception that News Corp. had “too close a relationship” with Hunt’s office. Smith said he had acted without Hunt’s authorization, but it was not clear how a special adviser could have acted so independently.

Although Murdoch was cooperative with the inquiry on Wednesday, he evoked a healthy helping of the phrase “I don’t remember,” particularly when confronted with potentially embarrassing anecdotes about his alleged remarks.

At one point, Jay quizzed Murdoch about a gleeful comment in which Murdoch took credit for smearing his left-wing opponents.

“If I said that, I’m afraid it was the influence of alcohol,” Murdoch replied.

Throughout the hearing, Murdoch attacked the idea that he traded on his political influence, calling it a “complete myth. One I want to put to bed once and for all.”

So determined was he that Murdoch appeared to claim he was totally blind to business considerations when deciding which politicians to back.

“You’re completely oblivious to the commercial benefits to your company of a particular party winning an election. Is that really the position?” asked a skeptical-sounding Jay.

“Yes,” Murdoch said. “Absolutely.”

His testimony resumes on Thursday.

“We don’t have that sort of power,” Murdoch tells inquiry

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 25: Rupert Murdoch leaves The Royal Courts of Justice with his wife Wendi Deng Murdoch after giving evidence to The leveson Inquiry on April 25, 2012 in London, England. This phase of the inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press in the United Kingdom is looking at the owners of various media groups. The inquiry, which may take a year or more to complete, comes in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that saw the closure of The News of The World newspaper in 2011. Getty Images

Reuters | Apr 25, 2012

By Estelle Shirbon and Georgina Prodhan

LONDON (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch is used to slipping into Downing Street by the back door for discreet meetings with prime ministers, but there was no such privacy on Wednesday when he faced a grilling about his political influence in the full glare of the world’s media.

It was one of the most extraordinary days in a career spanning six decades that has seen the owner of a provincial Australian newspaper morph into a global media magnate credited with the power to make or break governments.

Questioned under oath at a judicial inquiry prompted by revelations of endemic phone-hacking at his News of the World tabloid, which he shut down last July, Murdoch gave a confident performance in which he amiably played down the power he holds.

If his enemies had hoped to see him squirm under the forensic questioning of the inquiry’s top prosecutor, especially after a memorably unimpressive performance before British lawmakers last July with his son James, they were disappointed. Last time, a protester threw a foam “pie” at the elder Murdoch and was hit by his formidable wife, Wendi Deng.

Under questioning last July, Murdoch had looked old and tired, and said it was the humblest day of his life, as the extent of public outrage at the way the News of the World had treated ordinary people as well as celebrities sank in.

But at Wednesday’s hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, one of the few times Murdoch has been hauled into any court, he appeared in command of the proceedings and quickly won over lawyers, journalists and the public alike. He smiled, was sometimes stern and left onlookers wondering how good, or bad, his memory of recent British political events really was.

Lest anybody underestimate him in his ninth decade, Murdoch jogged back to his seat after one of the breaks in proceedings, and showed he was as sharp as ever when it came to the quick put-down.

Had he thought British Prime Minister David Cameron was “lightweight” when he first met him? “No, not then.”

What did he think of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown threatening to wage war on News Corp, his company? “I did not think he was in a very balanced state of mind.”


Murdoch’s many detractors say he uses his vast multi-media empire to promote his right-wing views, further his commercial interests and gain covert influence among the rich and powerful for himself and his children.

The media mogul conceded that politicians often courted him, but shrugged at the suggestion that his papers could swing British elections.

“We don’t have that sort of power,” he said, disowning the famous “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” front page run by his favorite tabloid on the morning after the Conservatives unexpectedly won the 1992 election.

Responding calmly and politely to questions, pausing to ponder his answers and cracking a few jokes along the way, the 81-year-old projected himself as a shrewd and sensible businessman with no secret agenda or delusions of grandeur – a far cry from the bogeyman portrayed by his numerous enemies.

It was only natural in a democracy that politicians should seek the support of the media, and there was nothing unusual about his own political contacts, he said.

“He was that version of Rupert Murdoch that is approachable, engaging, really anything you want him to be,” said Neil Chenoweth, a Australian investigative journalist who has been writing about Murdoch for more than two decades.

“I think it must be very reassuring for investors to see him on top of his material, a little conciliatory but not a lot,” said Chenoweth, the author of two books on Murdoch.

But Murdoch’s efforts to downplay his own importance were undermined by events in Westminster, a short distance away from the courtroom where Judge Brian Leveson’s inquiry was in progress.


With excruciating timing, Cameron was in parliament for a weekly question time that was dominated by attacks on him and his government for being too close to the Murdoch empire, a theme that has dogged Cameron since revelations started pouring out in the hacking scandal.

While Cameron was jeered in a rowdy House of Commons, Murdoch was gently ducking difficult questions at the Leveson Inquiry with smiles, one-liners and pregnant pauses as he appeared to rack his brain for long-lost memories.

A crucial lunch with former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to gain her backing for his 1981 takeover of the Times and the Sunday Times? He had no memory of it. Allegations of interference in editorial matters by former Times editor Harold Evans? He hadn’t read the book.

Nevertheless, for a self-styled outsider who likes to portray himself as a scourge of the establishment, Murdoch’s testimony offered tantalizing glimpses of a career that has in fact unfolded at the very heart of power.

He was probed on his relationship with Thatcher and grudgingly admitted that they were “on the same page” politically.

That is putting it mildly, according to many students of Murdoch’s career who say that under Thatcher’s government in the 1980s he and his papers shared her libertarian and individualist agenda and offered her support she could only have dreamed of.

“They were engaged in a joint crusade to regenerate Britain, its culture, its people, its place in the world,” said James Curran, co-author of “Power without Responsibility”, an authoritative textbook on the history of the British press.


But Wednesday’s grilling showed Murdoch’s political malleability, which analysts say has been one of the hallmarks of his success.

With the Thatcher era over and her Conservative successor John Major bogged down in party infighting, Murdoch switched allegiance to left-of-centre Tony Blair of New Labor, who flew to Australia as opposition leader to pay homage to Murdoch.

“This was a pragmatic, calculated relationship with an Atlanticist pro-markets social democrat he could do business with. It wasn’t a joint crusade, it was a carefully calibrated mutually advantageous relationship,” said Curran.

The Blair-Murdoch relationship was described in cruder terms at Leveson. Murdoch was asked if it was true that he had once told Blair that “if our flirtation was ever consummated, Tony, then I suspect we will end up making love like porcupines: very, very carefully.” The response: “I might have.”

The performance showed that the ageing Murdoch has lost none of his fighting spirit after a tumultuous year that saw him sacrifice the profitable News of the World, abandon a cherished bid to take over a satellite TV business and reluctantly let his son James and his favorite, Rebekah Brooks, resign from their posts at the British arm of his News Corp conglomerate.


These events have transfixed the British media and profoundly embarrassed the government, but Murdoch’s Leveson appearance served as a reminder of the many controversies he has overcome during his long and inexorable rise.

After expanding the family business he inherited in Australia and New Zealand, Murdoch burst onto the British scene in the late 1960s with the purchase of the News of the World and the Sun.

In his first decade as owner of the two papers, they were transformed into sensationalist scoop machines, serving up a diet of sex scandals and bare-breasted girls. Circulation soared to record levels.

When he set his sights on the venerable but struggling Times and Sunday Times in 1980, his takeover bid prompted cries of outrage from many critics who said the vulgar style of his tabloids disqualified him from running respectable papers.

Murdoch prevailed and owned the four newspapers until he had to close the News of the World amid scandal last year. He replaced it with a Sunday edition of the Sun and has a staggering 40 percent share in Britain’s daily newspaper market.

In 1986 came the battle of Wapping, when Murdoch moved his operations overnight to new facilities with their own printing press in a direct challenge to powerful unions who opposed the move because it would lead to massive job losses. After months of strikes and violent standoffs, Murdoch won.

Asked at Leveson whether one of the reasons why Thatcher, also a ruthless union-buster, had backed his bid for the Times group was that she expected him to crush the press unions, Murdoch was evasive.

“I don’t think she knew there would be trouble with the unions … I didn’t have the will to crush the unions. I might have had the desire, but that took years,” he chuckled.

Two Murdoch journalists reportedly attempt suicide as pressure mounts | Mar 7, 2012

Two senior journalists working for Rupert Murdoch’s News International have attempted suicide as pressure mounts at the scandal-hit publisher of the now-defunct News of the World, according to media reports.

The suicide attempts follow weeks of intense scrutiny of the role of The Sun, another Murdoch paper, in the phone-hacking scandal and police bribery case.

The man and the woman, who were reportedly involved in separate incidents, were rescued in time, a friend of one of them said, according to a report Tuesday on The two journalists have been checked into the hospital, according to a report Tuesday by the Financial Times. The newspaper reported that their care is being paid for by News International. 

“It was not a suicide pact,” the friend told the New Zealand-based news organization. “The attempts were not simultaneous and there is no suggestion of a pact.”

Eleven current and former staff of the Sun, Britain’s best-selling daily tabloid, have been arrested this year on suspicion of bribing police or civil servants for tip-offs, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Their arrests have come as a result of information provided to the police by the Management and Standards Committee, or MSC, a body set up by parent company News Corp to facilitate police investigations and liaise with the courts.

The work of the MSC, which was set up to be independent of the conglomerate’s British newspaper arm News International, has caused bitterness among staff, many of whom feel betrayed by an employer they have loyally served.

“People think that they’ve been thrown under a bus,” one News International employee told Reuters. “They’re beyond angry – there’s an utter sense of betrayal, not just with the organization but with a general lynch-mob hysteria.”

News International, the European arm of Murdoch’s empire, is facing multiple criminal investigations and civil court cases as well as a public inquiry into press standards after long-simmering criticism of its practices came to a head last July.

Politicians once close to Murdoch, including Prime Minister David Cameron, turned their backs on him and demanded answers after the Guardian newspaper revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

The London Evening Standard reported that other News International journalists are “terribly stressed and many are on the edge.” The company has reportedly offered psychiatric help to any journalist who wants help.

Police cover-up of phone hacking revealed to Leveson inquiry

John Prescott (left) and Brian Paddick revealed the full extent of the police cover-up of phone hacking in written statements to the Leveson inquiry. Photograph: PA

Detailed allegations presented by John Prescott and Brian Paddick suggest victims, politicians and judges were misled | Feb 27, 2012

by David Leigh

Documents revealing the full extent of the Metropolitan police cover-up over phone hacking have been unearthed after legal discovery battles by News of the World victims.

The files’ contents were detailed on Monday to the Leveson inquiry in sworn written statements from the former deputy prime minister John Prescott and former Met deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick, who was himself a hacking victim.

Paddick used his insider knowledge to depict the existence of a widespread fear of the tabloids among senior police officers and what he called a general “culture of cover-up” at the Met.

But the detailed allegations he and Prescott make about the hacking affair are even more startling. According to the evidence, lies appear to have been told not only to individual victims, but to government ministers, parliament, the judges and the public.

Police attempts to undermine the Guardian’s reporting when it first disclosed the scandal in 2009 are shown to have been wrong. There had been a “conspiracy of silence”, Prescott said.

According to the evidence presented on Monday:

• Police knew from the outset that Prescott was a hacking victim, but told him the opposite.

• Police immediately identified hundreds of hacking targets in the seized files of the private detective Glenn Mulcaire, but later claimed they were unaware of them.

• Police never received key financial evidence or computers from News International (NI).

• Police “tipped off” Rebekah Brooks, the then editor of the Sun, about the scope of their investigation.

• Police discovered in Mulcaire’s files highly sensitive leaks from within their own ranks that could have endangered those with new identities.

• An unknown police officer reversed a recorded decision to inform key victims, ensuring a cover-up.

Some of the most senior officers who handled the case have already testified to MPs on the Commons media committee. They are being recalled under oath by Lord Justice Leveson later this week.

These include the former assistant commissioner John Yates, who has resigned and is currently employed as a consultant by the ruling family in Bahrain; the former deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke; and the former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman.

Police investigations were “thorough and appropriate” to start with, said Paddick. The NoW’s royal reporter Clive Goodman was targeted in 2006 after members of the monarchy complained that their phones were being interfered with.

The documents reveal, however, that police realised from the outset that phone hacking was a potentially huge issue.

On 4 April 2006, Detective Superintendent Philip Williams wrote that the ability to intercept voicemails was “highly unlikely to be limited to Goodman alone” and could be too expensive to investigate by the royal security squad.

In May, after Mulcaire had been linked to the case, the case officer Mark Maberley wrote of “sophisticated and organised interception of voice messages”.

His senior investigating officer, Keith Surtees, proposed that “given the large number of non-royal victims” a better-equipped squad should take over. Paddick said he did not understand why this never happened.

The team then discovered that the then Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell was being hacked. When Mulcaire’s property was raided on 8 August 2006 they found that Prescott was also being targeted.

A transcript of Mulcaire’s interrogation on the following day was revealed on Monday. Prescott said he found the transcript “quite staggering” when it was eventually disclosed to him five years later.

The interrogator, DC Gallagher, was recorded saying: “Another page here has got the name John Prescott. There’s another name underneath, first of all it says adviser and then the name Joan Hammell. You’ve got her telephone numbers and DI numbers, password numbers and Vodafone passwords … and an address.”

Police regarded the Prescott allegation as so significant in 2006 that they included his name in a draft application for a search warrant for the NoW, which was never executed.

The draft said Mulcaire had been receiving extra payments of £250 a time “which appear to be linked to assistance given in relation to specific stories”. It added: “The details contained in these invoices demonstrate these stories involve individuals in the public eye such as … ‘Prescott’.”

The evidence police already held included two £250 bills Mulcaire presented to NI dated 7 May 2006 and 21 May 2006. One said: “Story – other Prescott assist – TXT” and the other: “Story: Other Prescott assist – TXT: Urgent”.

Other damning evidence which later came to light, and would have been discovered had police pursued inquiries at the time, included an internal NI email dated 28 April 2006. It was headed “Joan Hammell: adviser to Prescott”, gave instructions on how to access her voicemail box and said there were 45 messages to be listened to.

But police did not push ahead. There was a “tense standoff” at the News of the World offices when police arrived, according to the case officer. Stuart Kuttner, the managing editor, and the Farrers solicitor Julian Pike met police and allegedly “obstructed” them. The accounts department was not searched as intended, nor were Goodman’s safe and computer taken away.

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British police reveal close rapport with Murdoch’s phone-hacking tabloid

AP Photo | Jan 23, 2012  

by Janet Stobart

REPORTING FROM LONDON — Journalists from the defunct British tabloid News of the World lied about their relationship with police as well as having hacked into cellphone messages in order to gather information about a missing teenager, a police document sent to Parliament revealed Monday.

The 16-page letter from Surrey police also revealed a close, almost collaborative, relationship between the press and police  and offered no reason why Surrey authorities did not investigate the paper for illegal phone hacking in 2002 after the 13-year-old schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, went missing and was later found dead.

Instead, the police appear to have followed a line of inquiry back then that was suggested by misleading information from journalists based on the girl’s hacked phone messages.

The News of the World was a popular British tabloid owned by News Corp. media mogul Rupert Murdoch,  who has been subjected to questioning on allegations of illegal phone hacking by a parliamentary committee.

Allegations made public in July of the phone hacking have been at the heart of the scandal that led Murdoch to close the newspaper and have led to ongoing police and parliamentary inquiries into British media ethics and practices.

Dowler was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in March 2002. But for a time, her parents believed her to be still alive, based on the deletion of messages on her phone. The police letter casts no light on how the deletions occurred.

Monday’s letter to Parliament included a report on an exchange between Surrey police and News of the World journalists concerning information involving messages left on Dowler’s phone a month after her abduction. The letter shows Surrey police were fully aware that journalists were using illegal phone hacking methods yet failed to report it to the central British police authority, Scotland Yard.

However, it specifies journalists did not obtain Dowler’s number and pin code from police, but from her classmates. Last year, the paper’s legal advisor had speculated during a parliamentary inquiry that the paper had probably obtained the information from police.

The 16-page letter said News of the World journalists informed Surrey police in April 2002, a month after Dowler’s disappearance, that they had listened to messages on Dowler’s phone from “a tearful relative” and “a young boy” and a recruitment agency offering a job. Police first thought the latter was a hoax but later deduced after conducting investigations it was a probable simple error in dialing phone numbers.

The agency later claimed it was  harassed by a News of the World journalist claiming to work for the police, asking whether the agency had called Dowler.

“What the letter shows is that several journalists at the News of the World appear to have been involved in hacking into Milly Dowler’s phone,” said John Whittingdale, head of a parliamentary inquiry into the phone hacking scandal, “and that they were doing so because they wanted to pursue the story rather than help the police.”

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and chairman of the company that owned the newspaper, told Whittingdale’s inquiry last year that beyond  one journalist who served a jail sentence for phone hacking in 2007, there were no other suspected phone hackers on the editorial staff of his papers.

The BBC and an inconvenient truth about climate change

Toeing the party line: Attenborough put across his apocalyptic climate change message forcefully in the final episode of Frozen Planet | Dec 8, 2011

by Christopher Booker

From its breathtaking footage of killer whales hunting in packs to the scenes of penguins swimming with balletic grace under the sea ice, Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Frozen Planet has been acclaimed as perhaps the most riveting sequence of natural history programmes ever produced.

The sophistication of the photography, the extraordinary endeavour of the film crews to get the best shots  and Sir David’s breathily authoritative commentary have had viewers entranced in their millions.

Last night’s was the final part of this landmark series, and it set a very different tone from his usual celebration of the natural world. This was because Sir David and the BBC decided to use the last programme to put over a particular message that has become all too familiar from the Corporation in recent years.

Sir David used the awesome shots of the frozen polar wastes to hammer home his belief that the world is facing disaster from man-made global warming.

No one can doubt the  passion of his belief. But in putting across his apocalyptic  message so forcefully, too many important questions on this hugely important subject  were last night neither asked nor answered.

In short, it was a deeply disappointing end to the series — for it was the latest one of countless examples of how, in recent years, the BBC has chosen to make its coverage of one of the most crucial issues of our time quite deliberately, even defiantly one-sided.

The BBC is committed by its charter to report with ‘accuracy and impartiality’. Yet on climate change, it has adopted a clear ‘party line’, which has run through almost every aspect of its broadcasting.

Earlier this year, when the Mail serialised the memoirs of the respected former BBC news reporter and anchorman Peter Sissons, his insider’s view explained how the BBC had become ‘a propaganda machine for climate-change zealots’.

So distorted has the BBC’s coverage become that I produced a detailed report on the subject for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the ‘sceptical’ think-tank run by former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, which is published today.

My disturbing findings show that the problem began a few years ago when the alarm over global warming was at its height. Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — a sensationalist documentary warning of the imminent destruction of our planet because of climate change — was packing in vast audiences and being circulated to our schools to show to children.

Tony Blair was putting global warming at the top of his government’s agenda. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) was producing its scariest report to date.

At a secret ‘high-level seminar’ in January 2006, 30 of the BBC’s most senior staff listened as a former president of the Royal Society, Lord May, told them that ‘the scientific debate over climate change’ was over, and that the BBC must ‘stop reporting the sceptics’.

As a result, the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the winds.

The BBC’s journalists and producers were let off the leash — to line up with the more extreme environmental pressure groups, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth, in pushing their global warming agenda for all it was worth.

This bias was soon evident across the whole of the BBC’s output. Not just in the news and current affairs coverage, but from children’s programmes such as Blue Peter —which titled one show Green Peter, with top tips to save the planet — to story-lines in The Archers, one of which involved a farmer planting trees to combat climate change.

Even producers of the BBC Proms got in on the act. In 2007 they commissioned a ‘music drama’ centred on a group of children who had lost their homes through floods caused by climate change.

Programme after programme promoted the climate change gospel, including a two-part documentary series by David Attenborough in 2006, which featured practically every scare story ever dreamed up.

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News of the World journalists’ computers were destroyed by ‘putting them through a grinder and smashing them up’

Investigation: Computers at the News of the World have been put through a ‘grinder’

Daily Mail | Nov 19, 2011

The phone hacking scandal has taken a new twist after it was revealed computers used by News of the World journalists were destroyed by putting them ‘through a grinder’.

They were ‘taken out and smashed up’ last autumn at a time when News International was being sued over the illegal activity at the now-defunct Sunday tabloid.

The computers were destroyed during a move from the paper’s headquarters in east London to an office at the nearby Thomas More Square, a court has heard.

Only the terminal belonging to show business reporter Dan Evans still exists, according to Jeremy Reed, the barrister representing a number of phone hacking victims.

Mr Reed was speaking at a pre-trial hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice into civil damages test cases to be heard in January.

News International decided to grind down the hard drives as part of a routine upgrading of its technical hardware, it is understood.

Vital internal emails are believed to have been copied and kept on servers outside the building.

Mr Evans and NI subsidiary News group Newspapers, were sued by designer Kelly Hoppen over interception of messages left on her mobile phone between 2004 and 2006.

The destruction of computers would have happened long after senior executives at the paper were made aware that phone hacking was not the work of just one ‘rogue’ reporter.

A legal opinion from Michael Silverleaf QC in 2008 warned there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that senior journalists at the paper had made ‘illegal enquiries.’

Meanwhile, it was revealed police have raided the home of a retired Special Branch detective who acted as a whistleblower on the failure of authorities to investigate media dirty tricks.

The raid came just days before he is to give evidence as a witness to Lord Leveson’s inquiry.

Former Merseyside policeman Alec Owens was the lead investigator for the Information Commissioner’s ‘Operation Motorman’ inquiry, into the use of private investigators by journalists.

The probe exposed the vast scale of private information obtained including criminal records and vehicle registrations.

But he is a critic of the commissioner’s decision not to interview any of the hundreds of journalists named in the 17,000 transactions listed in files seized from Hampshire private detective Steve Whittamore in 2003.

No journalist was charged in Operation Motorman.

Mr Owens is due to give evidence to the public inquiry on media standards on November 30.

At 7.25am yesterday, two officers from Wilmslow, Cheshire, arrived at his home with a search warrant, demanding documents and electronic files and asked him to come to a police station to be questioned under caution.

Mr Owens, who has notified Lord Leveson’s office of the swoop, believed the raid was connected to his inquiry evidence.

‘They have come on a fishing expedition to find out what I’m going to say,’ he told the Independent.

‘But I have told them that statement is for Lord Leveson’s eyes only at this stage.’