Big brooms and bulging Carpets – PCC find “no new evidence” of widespread phone hacking at the News of the World

Come on everybody, clap your hands
Ar ya lookin’ good?
I’m gonna sing my song
And it won’t take long
We’re gonna do the sweep, and it goes like this:

Come on, let’s sweep again, like we did last summer
Yeah, let’s sweep again, like we did last year
Do you remember when, things were really hummin’?
Yeah, let’s sweep again, sweepin’ time is here!

Of course, you don’t need Chubby Checker to point out when there’s a whitewash about do you? The Press Complaints Commission has just released its report into alleged phone hacking at the News of the World. No surprises then, that the self-regulating commission states there was “no new evidence” of widespread phone hacking at everyone’s favourite Sunday newspaper.

The Guardian reports today that the ‘PCC also said it was not “materially misled” by executives at Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid and that it did not believe senior managers at the paper knew reporters had illegally intercepted phone message left on mobile phones’.

MPs attacked the PCC last night describing the report as a “whitewash” and promising that another inquiry, from the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, would be more rigorous.

Paul Farrelly, a Labour MP who sits on the select committee investigating the affair as part of a report into press standards, has already brought up the big W himself: “We are seriously concerned about the effectiveness of the PCC and self-regulation in the industry,” Farrelly said . “Any whitewash thrown over these events by the regulator will only heighten concerns that will be explored in our report.

The PCC reopened an earlier investigation into phone hacking after the Guardian revealed in July that News International made secret payments totalling more than £1m to victims of the practice, including Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, in an apparent attempt to secure their silence.

The PCC, you may recall, is an entirely independent body, which the entire industry fears. No stone is left unturned in their 5 year mission to boldly go where no independent press complaints body has gone before… Sorry, that’s science fiction.

The Guardian sees things slightly differently: “Doubtless because of its restricted powers, the PCC has, unlike Nick Davies [the Guardian journalist who broke the story], not spoken to a single person involved in the widespread past practice of phone hacking, limiting its own original inquiries to an exchange of letters with someone who was not even at the News of the World at the time of the hacking.”

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price, who also sits on the select committee promised that their own inquiry, which will be published next month “would be able to give a fuller picture of the context of this story”.

Nick Davies meanwhile compares the report to a bout of shadow boxing, the PCC throwing “plenty of punches from different directions, but not a single one has hit the target. In spite of all the angry language, its report has failed to dislodge a single factual claim in our story about the News of the World,” adding that the only serious blow is to watchdog’s “own credibility”.

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