The Shoogly Peg » Blog Archive » News International and the backbench MP

by peterjukes

Tom gave us an interesting perspective, having not only investigated but also experienced the tabloids’ less robust methods of gathering news. After suing The Sun for libel, he was targeted by the paper’s private detectives, and eventually had to apologise to his neighbours when reporters started raking through their bins. He described it all in a light-hearted way, but it was clearly a deeply distressing experience, particularly the moment when someone knocked at the door and his three-year-old son ran to hide behind the sofa, shouting, “There’s another nasty man at the door!” Those who scoff that people in the public eye deserve everything they get might want to reflect on Tom’s horrible realisation that he was standing in his own house but still could not protect his toddler son.

But it’s not just the tabloids that Tom Watson was scathing about: he points out that even when the police had seized 11,000 documents about phone-hacking, almost nobody reported it. It was, he says, a failure of the free press, and the continuing inability of the PCC to properly regulate the press is a failure of political will.

Inevitably, someone in the audience asked what Tom thought about Alex Salmond’s new BFF being Rupert Murdoch: his rather restrained response was simply “I’m surprised. It’s a mistake”.

It was a really interesting look at one of the biggest stories of our time. And one which, with the brazen launch of the Sun on Sunday, is in danger of being swept aside. Yet as Tom concludes, this was not just a local affair. He points out,

“If this had happened in a South African state, we’d have been moving UN resolutions about it”.

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