RO alert: British tabloids sink to an all-time shit-sucking low

In March 2002, a 13-year-old girl, Millie Dowler, was abducted and murdered. Wikipedia article. Her body was not found until September.

During the time she was missing, friends and relatives left hopeful messages on her cellphone’s voicemail.

Also during that time, a private investigator hired by the News of the World hacked her voicemail and listened to all of the messages. So many messages were left on her voicemail that it became full.

The investigator then started deleting messages he’d already listened to.

This led the family to think that Milly was still accessing her voicemail, and raised hopes that she was still alive. Story.

The editor of the paper at the time, Rebekah Brooks (née Wade), released a statement in 2009:

Glenn Mulcaire is the name of the investigator hired by News of the World, whose 11,000 pages of notes were revealed by police to the Guardian to contain targeting of the Dowler family.

What fucking twisted version of humanity are these people?

Oh yeah, News International. Of which Brooks was recently appointed Chief Executive.

This is extremely serious, how many other cases have they been involved with?

Deleting messages is in effect, deleting evidence, and of course, we have no way of knowing if this affected the path of this, or any other investigation.

Mobile phone records are used extensively in criminal investigations and provide a lot of circumstantial evidence, now we are in a situation where a defence can posit that this has been planted, or defence critical material has been deleted.

How about hacking reveals some material that could have been used as evidence, but a tip off gives time for the miscreants to delete it?

When I say this is serious, I mean it.

This is slowly unravelling and getting worse and worse, hacking the accounts of roylaty or celebs is serious enough, but this is demonstrating that mobile phishing is also possible and probably very likely - I would not be surprised to see some very sticky fingers dipping into the financial accounts of various folk.

New of the Screws may not be party to this phishing, they probably buy in the skills, however we can’t be sure just how criminal those hired ahnds are either.

I have always wondered why the Met have not persued this investigation into phone hacking far more vigorously. One wonders if that has not been some sort of collabaration to get around phone tapping regulations and judicial oversight - some of these phone hacks and incompetant investigations are just too damn convenient. There has to be some sort of payback.It seems to me that every revalation has had to be dragged out without the assistance of the Met, who then seem to play at a form of catch-up investigation and they never seem to find anything - its a fertile ground for conspiracy theories.

Mine personal theory is that the Met and various phone hackers have been working together, tipping each other off on various aspects and it is not in the interests of any of these parties, including the press to have this properly scrutinised.

I thought they sunk to an all-time low when The Sun reported “The Truth” after the Hillsborough Disaster.

This is what tabloids do. They sensationalize things, make stuff up, and generally scandalize everything they can, largely because the public can’t get enough of it. They know their audience better than any other form of media and they pander to it. This is nothing more than business as usual, and that fact will be borne out by the zero drop in readership.

Hacking into cell phones and deleting voicemails that were potentially evidence seems to be a bit beyond your run-of-the-mill sensation and scandal, in my opinion.

You’re probably right. Still, libeling people and doing shady things is their millieu and has been for as long as I’ve been alive. If nothing else this is simply the next logical step in their descent into hell.

They should have had their license revoked when it was revealed they were hacking into the phone accounts of members of the government and Royal Family, clearly a matter of national security. This just seals the deal. The damned paper should be shut down and every member of the editorial staff imprisoned for conspiracy.

This is at least as unethical though, and absolutely illegal. I hope serious jail time is on the cards.

The readership of the Sun did drop enormously in Liverpool after their malicious lies. It probably won’t change this time though, I agree.

Wow, you can shut down papers in the UK for stuff like this? And newspapers need licenses to operate? If I’m interpreting that right, it’s way different than how things are in my country (the United States).

BTW, my understanding of how they “hacked” the voicemail boxes is that the people who owned the mobile phones had not changed their passwords from the default. Is that correct? (I’m not trying to excuse what the papers did, but instead am trying to understand how they did it.)

The English tabloid buying public are far too substantial a group to consider them to be merely a twisted version of humanity. They are humanity.

No they don’t need licenses to operate.

No, you can’t. Which is a damn shame. Newspapers don’t need licenses, but individual journalists have their press passes. This isn’t a thread about how great and free America is.

Newspapers might not need a license to operate but I presume that PI’s do and this one should have his license yanked so fast that he spins his ass right into a jailcell.

I think the question was a fair question asking for clarification of the applicable law, not an attempt at flag-waving.

So, what you’re saying is, the Queen has final editorial authority over every word published in the British press? That’s pretty messed up. Maybe you should try freedom of the press, like we have in AMERICA!!! USA! USA! USA!

ETA: Thanks, Ascenray. The above is sarcasm directed toward SciFiSam, in case anyone misunderstood.

Be pointless jailing the Private Investigator. I think that he is in jail already from the linked account.

What the tabloids and their agents did was beyond the pale.

However- the police in charge of the investigation need their arses kicked for not securing the information. If this voicemail was so important they should have had access to it immediately with their own password plus the messages should not have been left only on that one device. They should have been transferred to a more permanent medium.

And cuachtemoc, you’re acting like a child.

Something I don’t get, what was the private investigator hired by News of the World trying to do, find Millie? How was listening to her voice mails going to help?

And here is why nothing will come of this, other than some hideously insincere apologies, and possibly a couple of token scape goats:

Sorry to state the obvious, but Murdoch effectively controls the country, and no-one is really going to risk upsetting him too much.

Hell no, he was digging for dirt, or at the least information that would generate even more sensational headlines.

I believe so. According to what I’ve heard, the modus operandum was to get hold of the number, then hack #1 calls it. When it’s ringing or picks up, hack #2 calls it as well and gets straight to the voicemail front page, then uses the default password or tests other simple number combinations to access the voicemailbox.

The inaction of the police in this matter is extremely worrying.

Some choice quotes from the Guardian article:

And on police inaction…

…a quote which I suspect is both true, and a convenient rationalisation.