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News of the World phone tapping 'irresponsible and dangerous'

9 July 2009

New revelations about illicit phone tapping by the News of the World to gain sensational stories about celebrities show that the paper's activities have been "irresponsible and dangerous," the NUJ said today.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said that the stories produced by the News of the World were "emphatically not in the public interest".

The NUJ Code of Conduct stipulates that journalists must acquire information by "honest, straightforward and open means", except for "investigations that are overwhelmingly in the public interest."

Jeremy Dear added:

"The use of surreptitious means to obtain information must only be used for really important stories of the greatest public interest, not for gossip about footballers or the royal family.
"The Telegraph's acquisition of the data about MPs' expenses is a rare and classic example. To have these revelations just a few weeks after that story does a lot to undermine quality journalism.
"The more journalists use illicit means for inconsequential stories, the harder it will be the justify their use when it really matters and is really justified. That's the danger the News of the World is putting us in."

Jeremy Dear also highlighted the way this scandal has exposed the failures of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) to act as an effective regulatory body. The NUJ has campaigned for many years for the existing system to be overhauled.

Jeremy Dear said:

"This is yet another example of the failure of the PCC, and further underlines our long-standing demands for effective self-regulation of the press."

Tags: , newspapers, news international, nuj, phone hacking, news of the world, ethics, code of conduct, pcc, regulation