IT has become virtually impossible to keep track of what is happening in the wake of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World. I can’t recall as seismic a scenario since the Christine Keeler/John Profumo affair of the 1960s. In some respects the repercussions could be even more damaging, as some of the country’s most powerful people in politics, police and the media are involved.

The resignations of Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates, the two most senior officers in the Metropolitan Police, and allegations of corruption against others in the UK’s largest and most elite force, have further jaundiced public opinion about its reliability and effectiveness. An investigation is already in progress following claims that officers had accepted bribes from journalists in exchange for sensitive information, particularly the phone numbers of the Royal Family. There has been a handful of arrests and many more could follow.

Earlier this week, Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most powerful media mogul, and his son, James, heir to the empire, together with Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, the newspaper arm of Murdoch’s giant News Corporation, faced a committee of MPs to answer questions on phone hacking, illegal payments to police and seeking to disrupt the democratic process by “owning”


“Not me, guv”, was their version of events which, when the storm erupted over the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile, brought the closure of the NOTW, and engulfed all three in a tidal wave of condemnation and disgust. Murdoch senior, commenting on “the most humble day of my life”, said he employed 53,000 people and couldn’t keep track of everything, relying for the most on people who, in this case, had let him down. Both he and James said they knew nothing about the hacking of Milly’s mobile. Rebekah Brooks said the same, though I think she was economical with the truth. I find it difficult to accept that an editorial executive, especially one as tough and sharp as Mrs Brooks, wouldn’t have maintained some contact with staff at the NOTW when she was on holiday, the time when the hacking of Milly’s phone took place.

This one goes right to the top; Number 10 no less. David Cameron is under fire from the Opposition, and within his own Party, for his friendship with Andy Coulson, Mrs Brooks, and the Murdochs. The appointment of Coulson as director of communications, after he resigned as editor of the NOTW in the wake of the hacking scandal, puts a huge question mark against Cameron’s judgement. This story will run and run. What a pity the NOTW isn’t around to wallow in it.