Like any conspiracy, there are layers of onion you have to peel to get to the centre and what started out as a deviant gene of cheque-book journalism turned into an immoral, unethical and downright criminal act of listening in on other people’s conversations. The fact they were “celebrities” and the fact the hackers published their version of the conversation contents made it blindingly obvious they would be caught as no one else (or very few) would know the topic of the phone conversations.
If married “sleb” A was illicitly shagging married with children, “sleb” B, then who else would know? Sunday’s shock, gasp, horror, headlines about a secret affair would have been unlikely to have made either party voluntary confess to knowing it would be in the public domain for 4 million red top readers and a couple of million more on the Tuesday when the Daily Mail finally picked up the story.
When sensitive political information started to emerge then the onion layers started to get peeled back. First a few hackers, then a manager, then managers; denials of responsibility flew back and forth. The police were implicated, press officers resigned, the newspaper directors, editors. A very popular and profitable Sunday newspaper of very long standing is closed down. Staff sackled or relocated.
Slowly the trail heads to the top of the top. Resignations, questions in the House, an enquiry: the Board quivers and the House shivers as dark secrets are about to come tumbling out. Arrests have been made, prison for some, national disgrace for others. Maybe even the Government gets toppled. Serious repercussions because all someone wanted to do was sell more newspapers, the more salacious the better.
So when cheque-book journalism became staid, boring and saturated with its regular “kiss and tell” stories by semi-prostitutes and footballers, the public taste wanted the “inside goss” and the cheapest way was phone hacking (something the GCHQ carry out every day in the interest of National Security).
Nowadays with some phones you can be tracked in real time revealing exactly where you are, where you’ve been, who you’ve met, where you shopped, not something I particularly ask for nor particularly want. All I can say is that had we stuck to the good old red telephone box (an anachronism now) Rupert wouldn’t be waiting for his collar to be felt, Rebbekah wouldn’t be on charges and “Call me Dave” might not be contemplating writing a resignation letter to Her Majesty to “spend more time with his family”.