Based on a podcast featuring Professor Wyn Grant, Politics and International Studies
In the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal Professor Wyn Grant from the Department of Politics and International Studies discusses the political fallout for David Cameron, the police and the newspaper industry itself. A podcast interview with Professor Grant is available for you to listen to below. What do you think? Let us know in the comments box below.
Here, Professor Wyn Grant, PAIS, discusses the recent News of the World scandal and the potential repercussions.
When the news broke that an investigator for the Sunday newspaper the News of the World had hacked into the voicemail of missing murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, giving her family false hope that she was alive, it became clear that the so-called phone hacking scandal at the paper had not been put to rest by the resignation of its former editor Andy Coulson and the jailing of the former royal correspondent Clive Goodman in January 2007.
Andy Coulson went on to be employed by Prime Minister David Cameron as his communication chief before he resigned again. “I think this is a difficult moment for David Cameron and he has to try and manage this crisis as well as he can, which I think so far he has. Clearly at the very least there is a great deal of embarrassment relating to the fact that he hired Andy Coulson and that Andy Coulson is now implicated in these events and obviously the opposition will make something that he did that” comments Prof Grant.
“What one has to bear in mind is that in circumstances like this, when there is some kind of crisis, David Cameron is very effective at playing the role of Prime Minister. He comes across as very authoritative and in command of the situation even if perhaps he isn’t.” To reassure people Cameron has announced two inquiries. The first will look at the regulation of the press and the second, headed by a judge, will investigate various ramifications of the phone hacking scandal.
Traditionally journalists and politicians have had a mutual relationship with journalists depending on politicians for stories and politicians depending on journalists to get their message across. That relationship is not going to go away, says Prof Grant. However “the framework within which that relationship is conducted may change over time in the sense that you may get more effective regulation.”
As with politicians, journalists have had a long-standing arrangement with the police.
As with politicians, journalists have had a long-standing arrangement with the police. “For a very long time there has been a very close relationship between the Metropolitan Police and certain red top journalists. Clearly there’s some advantage: police can get information that journalists have and journalists can get information that the police can’t state in a press conference for legal reasons. One wouldn’t want to prohibit that interaction altogether because it might form a valuable purpose.”
What must end, says Prof Grant, is the illegal exchange of money for stories between journalists and politicians. “I think the problem is it has been alleged that sums of money have changed hands and in terms of the law that represents a corrupt practice ... that kind of practice has to stop.”
Wyn Grant is a graduate of the universities of Leicester, Strathclyde and Exeter. He joined the department in 1971 and was chair of department from 1990 to 1997. He is senior tutor of the department. He is a member of the Population and Diseases Research Group in the Department of Life Sciences and teaches there and at the Warwick Crops Centre, Wellesbourne. In 2010 he was presented with the Diamond Jubilee Lifetime Achievement award of the Political Studies Association of the UK at their Awards Ceremony.