In his Daily Telegraph article today, Boris discusses the phone hacking scandal, and as he said in his interview with SKY News yesterday, there are probably tons of celebrities fuming because their phones were never hacked at all. So many minor stars make a living these days selling the minutiae of their lives to the press, if you do not have your phone hacked, it is tantamount to saying you are not an A list celeb, and nobody is interested in listening to your phone calls. For people like Peter Andre, Jordan, Cheryl Cole, and Kerry Katona, that is a damning verdict that must wipe thousands annually from their media value.
Boris says: “It’s getting to the stage where it looks embarrassing for any self-respecting celebrity that they haven’t been taped or hacked or somehow illicitly probed by the gentlemen of the Screws. Across London, actors and slebs are ringing up their agents in a quivering fury.
“Never mind presenting the awards at the Caravan and Mobile Homes annual dinner – I want my name on that Scotland Yard list of victims, buster, or your ass is grass!” (slam!). Honest hard-working MPs, Cabinet ministers who have given years of service to this country, are secretly appalled and jealous that someone has taken the trouble to listen to the mobile phone messages of Chris Bryant MP — and yet no one is interested in them. Why not? they whimper privately to their wives. Is no one willing to hear my voicemail messages to my private secretary about not being able to find the government car service driver at Heathrow? Are they trying to tell me I am not worth bugging?”
Boris also believes that the celebrities who have been victims of the bugging are hassling News International for huge compensation for their suffering. After all, if you yourself are selling the most private details of your life to the press, you are likely to be mad if someone gets hold of these details and makes them public for free.
One of Boris’s most important points is that News International is unlikely to have been the only news group engaged in the activity of phone hacking. He says: ” But you have to wonder quite why News International is the only newspaper group to be implicated in this scandal. If you were of a cynical cast of mind, you might think it had something to do with the decision by the Sun and the Times to switch their political allegiance before the last election. This phone-hacking malarkey was exposed in 2006, remember. It was fully five years ago that senior Labour politicians first became aware that their phones may have been bugged, and yet curiously enough – as long as they thought there was a chance of commanding the support of News International – they managed to contain their outrage.
Now that they have been chucked out of office and are scrabbling for employment as “political consultants” and short-order chefs at the local Burger Shack, they have miraculously rediscovered their principles. It is totally absurd that people such as John Prescott and Keith Vaz are rolling around in a state of jowl-wobbling indignation today, when they have known about this business for years – and cravenly decided that it was better to suck up to Rupert Murdoch and his papers. As for the rest of Fleet Street currently piling in on News International, a cynic might think they were slightly conflicted, and that their real agenda is to do anything they can to thwart the takeover of BSkyB.”
It would be good if Boris’s suggestion was taken up and a process of Truth and Reconciliation was followed, so that all newspaper editors could be made to face a committee whose aim was to find out how widespread the phone hacking really is. Ultimately though, will it ever be possible to tackle the real problem – the prurience that makes the public avidly scour the papers for sensational stories, with no regard for privacy. Martin Scorsese has said that voyeurism is one of the sicknesses of our age. The genie is out of the bottle and can he ever be made to return to the bottle again?
News International is setting up a £20M compensation pot to satisfy compensation claims. But Sienna Miller, pictured above, is continuing her civil claim to hold to account those responsible for the “outrageous violations of her privacy.”
Read Boris’s article in full here.