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NUJ joins calls for public inquiry into phone hacking

6 July 2011

The NUJ has joined calls for an urgent public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"The NUJ has repeatedly called for a public inquiry into the systemic problem of phone hacking at the News of the World. This can no longer be brushed aside as the actions of a couple of rogue reporters. The private detective Glenn Mulcaire has spoken out about the pressure he came under from the top and the 'constant demand for results.'
"The latest sickening revelations happened under the hands-on leadership of key senior figures in Rupert Murdoch's News International. It is simply unbelievable that they were unaware of the existence and the scale of this abuse.
"Rebekah Brooks may claim it is 'inconceivable' that she was aware of the depths her paper was prepared to plummet to – it is frankly inconceivable that she was not aware of the systemic reliance on hacking as a source of information for the stories in the paper she edited.
"The latest allegations lay bare a moral and ethical abyss at the heart of Murdoch's operation at the News of the World. It is imperative that a public inquiry takes place, one that involves scrutinising the actions of executives at the title at the highest level. It is vital that the inquiry also examines the broader issue of press regulation in the UK and closely examine the issue of journalistic ethics and standards.
"Yet against this backdrop of shocking allegations that need to be properly and fully investigated, Jeremy Hunt stands prepared this week to allow Rupert Murdoch to deepen his control of UK media by giving the green light to his takeover of BSkyB. He must now make an urgent statement on his intent in the wake of these shocking developments.
"The NUJ is demanding the government halt any decision on the future of BSkyB until a public inquiry into the conduct of Murdoch's key lieutenants at the News of the World."

The NUJ is backing calls for the abolition of the Press Complaints Commission in the wake of its failure to tackle the News of the World phone-hacking cases.

The union argues that freedom of the press is best protected when there is a strong and respected system of self-regulation. When the credibility of self-regulation is weakened by unethical behaviour, calls for legal restraint and statutory controls inevitably increase.

Michelle Stanistreet added:

"Journalism is damaged when it does not serve the public interest and does not command public trust. The actions of a few journalists have served to damage journalism and open the door to those who want to statutory controls. It's now time to abolish the PCC and create a new body that can defend journalism and the public interest not media owners.
"The Murdoch media empire does not allow collective bargaining on behalf of journalists employed. The lack of recognition of unions has contributed to the toxic situation we now face. More than 50,000 people have signed the 38 Degrees petition and over 70,000 people have sent messages to tell the government we don't want Murdoch's media empire to control our largest commercial broadcaster."

Tags: , newspapers, news of the world, rupert murdoch, ethics, phone hacking, leveson, pcc, 38 degrees, bskyb, recognition, public interest