Nick Davies lands another big scoop on the Murdoch hacking scandal, reporting that police investigators believe the News of the World gave a phone to the mother of a murder victim and then hacked it or at least tried to hack it.
This was no run-of-the-mill murder case, either. Davies reports that then-editor Rebekah Brooks gave the phone to Sarah Payne, whose daughter Sara had been murdered by a child molestor Brooks and NotW turned into a campaign that resulted in what’s known in the UK as Sarah’s Law—roughly equivalent to Megan’s Law here.
Police had earlier told her correctly that her name was not among those recorded in Mulcaire’s notes, but on Tuesday officers from Operation Weeting told her they had found her personal details among the investigator’s notes. These had previously been thought to refer to a different target.
Friends of Payne have told the Guardian that she is “absolutely devastated and deeply disappointed” at the disclosure. Her cause had been championed by the News of the World, and in particular by its former editor, Rebekah Brooks. Believing that she had not been a target for hacking, Payne wrote a farewell column for the paper’s final edition on 10 July, referring to its staff as “my good and trusted friends”.
The evidence that police have found in Mulcaire’s notes is believed to relate to a phone given to Payne by Brooks to help her stay in touch with her supporters.
Recall that Rebekah Brooks told the NotW newsroom upon shuttering the paper that they would soon know why the decision had been made and that “a very dark day for this company” was coming. I’m going to guess this wasn’t what she had in mind since Brooks namedropped Sarah’s Law several times in her testimony last week.
In other news, the board of Murdoch-controlled BSkyB announced that it unanimously backs James Murdoch to continue as chairman.
— The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating page-one story Tuesday on the relationship between the two most powerful politicians in Greece: Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras. The two were roommates at Amherst back in the 1970s, of all things. The top:
As protesters battled police outside parliament last month in a hail of rocks and tear gas, Greece’s beleaguered prime minister put his hopes in a secret phone call to an old friend.
“Let us form a government of national salvation,” George Papandreou, the Socialist prime minister, said to his chief rival, Antonis Samaras, head of Greece’s conservative opposition and a buddy since the two men were roommates at Amherst College in Massachusetts 40 years ago.
The details of their secret mid-June talks reveal the degree to which two friends—each with far different prescriptions for economic salvation—hold the fate of Greece in their hands as the nation tries to get its nearly $500 billion in government debt under control.
Their success or failure weighs on the potential survival of Europe’s shared currency, the euro, the crowning achievement of 60 years of European unification.
Great story from Marcus Walker.
If the debt-limit debate had anything to do with reality, every story about it would include a few basic facts. Starting with: President Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion budget deficit. And: Republican leaders supported the tax cuts and wars that (along with the recession, another pre-Obama phenomenon) created that deficit. Also: Republicans engineered this crisis by attaching unprecedented ideological demands to a routine measure allowing the U.S. to pay its bills. Finally, Obama and the Democrats keep meeting those demands—for spending cuts, then for more spending cuts, and even for nothing but spending cuts—but Republicans keep holding out for more.
These are verifiable facts, not opinions. But since they aren’t new facts, and re-reporting them would make “GOP claims” about the crisis look, um, non-factual, they’re rarely mentioned, except as “Democratic claims.”
The Atlantic’s James Fallows lays out “Five Reasons the House GOP Is to Blame” for the debt-ceiling crisis, and gets some press criticism in as well:
The debt-ceiling showdown represents hostage-taking, plain and simple. This is a “crisis” that need never have happened, regardless of which party controlled the White House.