As has just been announced at the High Court, News Group Newspapers have admitted that the News of the World intercepted messages on my mobile phone in 2006, and have apologised and agreed to pay damages and costs for the procedings I brought against them and private detective Glenn Mulcaire last year.
This is a satisfactory outcome, for which I thank solicitor Gerald Shamash and QC Jeremy Reed, and I am particularly pleased that News Group have also undertaken to continue searches of other ‘documents in its possession’, so that I can ascertain the extent of any further wrongdoing, both for the time I worked in Downing Street and since, and they have agreed I ‘may be entitled to further damages in certain circumstances.’
This is not, and never has been, about the money, with which I shall be making donations to various organisations including the Labour Party, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Comprehensive Future, Local Schools Network and Clarets Trust, so that at least some small good for the causes I believe in can come out of the criminality and cultural depravity of others.
For me, this has been about people with a voice and a platform using them to change the media culture which, as I argued at the Leveson Inquiry, has become putrid in parts. We have seen plenty of that exposed at the Inquiry. It took John Prescott and others to expose police wrongdoing in their handling of phone-hacking. It has taken lots of other public figures to expose the full extent – so far – of wrongdoing by the News of the World. And it took the revelations about Milly Dowler to create the tipping point that forced the government finally to set up an inquiry into press standards, something which, as I have said before, Labour should have done.
Where this all leads is anyone’s guess. But the debate has to be kept alive and at the front of the public mind once Leveson concludes. There are already signs that Tory ministers in particular are not keen on going along with major reform of the regulatory system if that is what the Inquiry recommends. They prefer the remarkable level of media support they currently enjoy to acting in the national interst to improve the level of debate, and the standards of the media.
It is incumbent upon all who for whatever reason are in this debate about press standards, and the relationship between press, politics and public, to keep fighting for the full truth about the nature of the modern media to be exposed, and for something better to be put in its place in terms of ownership, standards and regulation.