U.k. Newspaper Demands Public Probe Of Rival
Britain's Guardian newspaper has editorially called for an immediate public inquiry into new charges that politicians and celebrities were snooped on by private detectives working for Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid. Such an inquiry should occur, it said, before Murdoch is allowed to gain full control of Britain's largest commercial television company, BSkyB. The growing evidence, The Guardian suggested, raises questions about whether Murdoch's "News Corp is really a fit and proper business to be allowed to become easily the most dominant media company in Britain owning nearly 40 percent of The National press as well as 100 percent of a TV company generating £6 billion [about $10 billion] a year in revenues." The editorial followed publication of evidence by the Guardian on Thursday that a company owned by Jonathan Rees, a private detective who had served seven years in prison for blackmail, had been hired by News of the World to spy on politicians and members of the royal family -- in the process, bribing policemen, hacking into computers and bank accounts and even perhaps commissioning burglaries. And, the newspaper charged, in an apparent effort to avoid criminal exposure, News of the World is now offering settlements to those who claim to have been targeted. "If all of this were happening in Italy, the Times would be writing thunderous leaders. But do not look to the Thunderer for coverage of this particular story," the editorial concluded, in reference to the fact that the London Times , generally regarded as the most influential newspaper in Britain, is owned by Murdoch. "Without the scrutiny of other journalists, very little of this would have emerged," the editorial self-referentially concluded. "That's why media plurality matters."