Saturday, 9 July 2011

Solidarity Scotland statement on NOTW

Statement Regarding Developments With The NOTW -

Solidarity, Scotland’s Socialist Movement adds our voice to those of Aamer Anwar and Tom Watson MP calling for an investigation into evidence given by officials from News International during the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial. The Solidarity Co-Convenor was jailed for 3 years after a trial and police investigation that cost millions of pounds of public money and tens of thousands of hours of police time. The jury in the perjury case reached its decision by the narrowest of margins after hearing evidence from staff at News of the World claiming that there was no culture of phone hacking at the paper and no payments were made to police officers. The evidence passed to Strathclyde Police today suggests that at least some of those News International witnesses now have significant and difficult questions to answer. The police now have a duty to inform those in Scotland whose phones may have been hacked at the earliest opportunity. The Scottish Parliament also needs to discuss the behaviour of News International as a matter of urgency.

Tommy Sheridan was a target for News International due to the outstanding role he played in the socialist movement in Scotland including helping to defeat Thatcher’s hated Poll Tax and his bill in the Scottish Parliament to abolish warrant sales. During his trial, the former editor of the News of the World and then head of communications at Downing Street, Andy Coulson denied that there had been a culture of phone hacking at the News of the World. He denied any knowledge of payments made to police officers and described Tommy’s assertion that he was the victim of hacking as “true only in “the parallel universe that exists only in your mind.” Yet recent emails have emerged showing that Mr Coulson may be given another opportunity to return to the High Court in Glasgow. Presumably he will not be winking from the witness box as he tries to explain his comments that hacking and other surveillance operations were not pervasive at the paper under his watch.

Recent revelations in regards to the News of the World and the parent company News International make clear that this invidious organisation will stop at nothing to secure what they consider to be a “story”, stooping to unprecedented levels of depravity including allegedly hacking the phones of murdered children, their parents and victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London.

In what we consider a cynical and cost cutting move, the Murdoch family have today announced that the News of the World will cease trading following their publication this Sunday. We shed no tears at the demise of the right wing, reactionary, misogynist anti-trade union rag. However, it is typical of the culture of News International that ordinary workers and journalists, the vast majority of whom will have had nothing to do with the sordid, illegal practices recently exposed, will lose their jobs in a bid to preserve the reputations of the owners and senior executives. Whilst the name might disappear from newsstands, you can be sure that Murdoch will ensure that a new title will emerge to carry on where the odious News of the World left off.

Solidarity congratulates the MP for West Bromwich East, Tom Watson for his courageous and determined campaign to expose the News of the World and hold it to account. Whilst the majority of the political class at Westminster and Holyrood have cowered before the might of News International, Watson has dared to raise his head above the parapet and challenge Rupert Murdoch and his empire. With the decision to be made on the future of BSkyB it is vital that more elected representatives acquire the backbone required to ensure that News Internationals tentacles are not allowed to extend further into control of this country’s media. It is also vital that a full and open public enquiry is held into the actions of senior police officers who have disgracefully been in possession of the facts showing the extent of the hacking scandal for over five years. The relationship between News International and senior police officers in Scotland and England, as well as with the judiciary, politicians and governments in both countries need to be subject to the closest public scrutiny.

Solidarity, Scotland’s Socialist Movement stands shoulder to shoulder with our Co-Convenor Tommy Sheridan, his family and supporters in his battles still to come against News International. We will also continue to promote the politics of socialism, justice and equality that are so abhorrent to the owners and senior executives of Murdoch’s loathsome media empire. Finally, we call on all socialists in Scotland to join us, and the vast majority of working class people in unequivocally condemning News International and its despicable behaviour.

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