Phone hacking is just not naughty or unethical, it is criminal. We should trust the courts to act accordingly.by Tomas Hirst / July 24, 2012 / Leave a comment
The news that journalists are going to face criminal charges over phone hacking is already sending ripples of discomfort through the press. In the understandable effort to preserve press freedom, however, journalists must be wary of appeasing the inexcusable.
Even before the Crown Prosecution Service announced that eight people, including former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, will face charges relating to the interception of voicemail messages, the rumbles of unease had begun. In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry Michael Gove, the education secretary and former journalist with The Times, suggested that the right to freedom of expression should trump a desire to regulate press behaviour:
He said: “By definition, free speech doesn’t mean anything unless some people are going to be offended some of the time.”
Certainly there are signs that the phone hacking scandal has spread further than many had anticipated, throwing other aspects of the profession under the spotlight. Nick Cohen’s piece for the Observer on Sunday entitled “Persecuting the press diminishes us all” pointed to the arrest of Sun journalist Rhodri Phillips as evidence of a slippery-slope approach by the authorities.