Blame the Bobbies

By: /
22 July, 2011
By: Jennifer Welsh
Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College

The scandal engulfing News of the World in the U.K. does, as André suggests, raise a host of questions about the role and freedom of the press in a democracy. Murdoch’s access to seats of power, and politicians’ tireless efforts to gain his favour, was well known. But the depth of corruption and foul play was not.

What is particularly troubling about this whole episode is the degree to which the British police colluded in the tactics of News of the World journalists, and failed to perform the basic functions of investigation. While much of the commentary is (rightly) focused on how the press might be better regulated, and whether greater concentration of ownership should be allowed, not enough attention is being paid to the accountability of the police for their failures. Let’s hope members of Parliament soon turn their finger-pointing in that direction, too. Or perhaps this is a task for the many fine journalists working in the U.K.

Photo courtesy Reuters.

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