“Computer hacking is next,” says Tom Watson MP in an exclusive interviewby James Macintyre / May 24, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Tom Watson: “I have seen evidence that strongly suggests computer hacking was more widespread across a number of industries”
“We’re not through this scandal yet,” says Tom Watson, the MP who has spearheaded parliament’s probe into phone hacking in Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers. “Computer hacking is next and it may dwarf what we have seen so far.”
Computer hacking is currently the subject of an investigation by the police, named “Operation Tuleta,” which only has a handful of officers and a relatively low profile. In July last year, the Metropolitan police confirmed that “Some aspects of this operation will move forward to a formal investigation. There will be a new team reporting to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers.” Referring to this inquiry, Watson says: “I have seen evidence that strongly suggests computer hacking was more widespread across a number of industries. By this I mean the use of ‘Trojan’ devices used to illicitly disclose the content on hard drives.”
He adds: “The police inquiry has quite a long way to go before the full scandal is revealed.”
Tom Watson cuts a solitary figure, for a man at the heart of a campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s media empire that is making headlines around the world. At his suggestion, we meet in his office in Portcullis House at what he seems to regard as an opportune moment: during the debate over the Queen’s Speech, when the rest of Westminster has thronged into the House of Commons, MPs packing the green benches and journalists crowding into the press gallery above the chamber. Watson, who has an obsessive streak and is utterly preoccupied with his pursuit of the truth on phone hacking, has been regarded warily for years by many in his party for his role in internal battles. But his success in his quest, and his prominence on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee of the Commons has brought him back into the party fold, even if that is a role he regards with some unease.
Watson stayed up all night completing his submission to the Leveson inquiry into media standards, which began in July with a remit to investigate phone hacking at News International, the British arm of the Murdoch empire, as well as to consider media ethics and regulation. For Watson, recent months, in which the committee (working in parallel with the Leveson inquiry) has published its report on phone hacking, mark a culmination of years of battle. His often lonely investigations into the Murdoch stable of newspapers in Britain, and its relationships with the police and politicians, without much support from his own party, led him to question his own sanity, he says. These years also cost him his marriage. Today he feels vindicated; he is “feeling pretty good, actually.” Joking at his own rotundity, he says that “it feels like I’m lighter than I actually am.”