LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron offered details for the first time on Wednesday of a broad inquiry into the relationships between the police, politicians and the press in the broadening scandal confronting Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Britain.
Speaking to Parliament, Mr. Cameron said the inquiry would be led by a senior judge, Lord Justice Leveson, and would have the power to summon witnesses to testify under oath. The announcement came as Mr. Cameron fought to recover the initiative in a scandal that has turned into potentially the most damaging crisis of his time in office.
Mr. Cameron’s Conservative Party took power in May 2010, supported by some of the newspapers in Mr. Murdoch’s British stable, and his critics said that he, like some of his predecessors in 10 Downing Street, sought to maintain that support even as the phone hacking scandal erupted last week.
Keep in mind that Cameron hired a former editor at News Of The World, Andy Coulson, as his (now former) director of communications. Keep in mind too that former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has alleged that he was a subject of inappropriate investigation by another Murdoch paper, The Sunday Times by "known criminals," as he put it. It's not a stretch to suggest that Brown himself may have had his phones and voicemails hacked.
Let that sink in a moment: the Conservative Cameron won election to the Prime Minister post in a bare plurality, falling 20 seats short of a clear majority, and needing to meld a coalition government with the Liberal Democratic party of Nick Clegg. The Labor Party lost a staggering 91 seats in that 2010 election.
It's not inconceivable, although I'd be skeptical of drawing this conclusion without better evidence than Brown's say-so, that Murdoch basically overthrew democracy and installed a puppet in Cameron. His organization could have hacked any number of phones (they've shown a particularly morbid curiousity with the technology,) and uncovered any number of campaign strategies.
There are allegations by London's Metropolitan Police from as early as 2006 that the royal family's voicemails had been eavesdropped on, and continuing allegations have been made by various people that they were, too, targeted.
And that's just voicemails. Cell phones have been notoriously easy to eavesdrop on, using various hard-, soft- and fleshware (bystanders overhearing conversations.) E-mail interceptions are not out of the question either, if you presume that Murdoch's empire was basically an organized crime syndicate.
And going with that theme, it's easy to see that the same things might have happened here, assuming they happened at all.
Keep in mind that this entire story came out only because 13 year old Milly Dowler was found dead, despite the fact that her voicemail box never was full and her family and friends called constantly and left messages in the hopes she was alive and would call as soon as she could. The hackers, private investigators, clumsily deleted voicemail messages to the missing girl, unintentionally giving false hope to the family and destroying potential evidence for the police.
This was in 2002. Is it a stretch to think that, for at least ten years, Murdoch has committed similar crimes and obstructions of justice world-wide?
Perhaps even in a national election like, say, Bush-Kerry in 2004?