Who's Denying What in the News of the World Scandal

Everybody's involved in the phone-hacking scandal, but nobody's to blame

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Everyone involved in the News of the World phone hacking story seems to have one thing in common: denial. The London Metropolitan Police have arrested former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as well as an unnamed editor, but they refuse to discuss the details. Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters in an emergency press conference that News Corp. chiefs Rupert and James Murdoch should have accepted CEO Rebekah Brooks's resignation and announced dual probes into the failure of the original police investigation and the state of the British press. Questioned about his own involvement with Coulson, his former director of communications, Cameron denies foul-play. Rebekah Brooks, meanwhile, says, "It's inconceivable I knew of Milly Dowler phone hacking" and plans to address to her staff on Friday. Meanwhile, police are reportedly searching the offices of the Daily Star Sunday. All the developments mean that the denials are stacking up quickly.

Andy Coulson was arrested midday Friday following further allegations of involvement in phone hacking. Police searched Coulson's house following the arrest and will face questioning over allegations of £100,000 bribes Metropolitan Police officers as well as phone hacking. Coulson resigned as editor of News of the World in 2007, when he became director of communications for the Conservative Party, a job from which he resigned earlier this year, when the phone hacking scandal started to heat up. "I never condoned the use of phone-hacking nor do I have any recollection where incidences of when phone hacking took place," Coulson said in 2009. He's so far been silent about his arrest.

David Cameron is connected to the scandal through Andy Coulson, who served as his spokesman while working as the Conservative Party's director of communications. Cameron refuses to apologize for hiring Coulson, remarking that giving Coulson a "second chance didn't work" but that Coulson did good work while at Downing Street. Cameron is now calling for News Corp. deputy chief operating officer James Murdoch to be questioned by police and has set up two inquiries--one to "investigate why the original police investigation failed" and one to look at the "culture, ethics and practices of the British press." Cameron said, "The truth is, we have all been in this together--the press, politicians and leaders of all parties--and yes, that includes me."

James Murdoch defended Rebekah Brooks in an interview with Sky News on Thursday afternoon, saying that she possessed "very good" ethics. The scandal, however, tarnished the News of the World's reputation beyond recovery. "Actions taken a number of years ago by certain individuals in what had been a good newsroom have breached the trust that News of the World has with its readers," Murdoch said, "And we took the decision to close down the paper, to cease publication after this Sunday, really because of that."

Rebekah Brooks, the current CEO of News Corp. and former editor of News of the World continues to deny knowledge of phone hacking. On Thursday, current News of the World editor Colin Myler told reporters twice that Brooks offered her resignation over the scandal, but News Corp. denied his claims. In an email to employees, Brooks said:

It is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations. I am aware of the speculation about my position. Therefore it is important you all know that as chief executive, I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues … I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened. Not just because I was editor of the News of the World at the time, but if the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable.

London Metropolitan Police have been accused of accepting bribes from News of the World. The Guardian reported Thursday that five officers each received bribes as much as £100,000. Nevertheless, they're moving forward with investigations into the phone hacking incident and say as many as 4,000 people may have been targeted by News of the World's hired private investigator. As a result, their investigation will take some time. "I understand that many people may be upset and will want to seek information from us," Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said. "I ask them to be patient and reassure them we will contact them if they are affected -- have confidence in us to keep our promise but also realize it will take time."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.