Equal justice under the law, that’s what’s engraved on the US Supreme Court Building in Washington. I’m sure it means just as much to Brits as Americans, but it will be tested over the next couple of years.
Yesterday at the High Court in London News International (NI) settled a bunch of civil cases brought by those who have had either their phones or emails hacked by Murdoch’s journalists. Here’s a link to the Independent’s report. Although it will cost NI a pretty penny, when compared to the money that Murdoch’s empire generates especially in TV, it will hardly make a dent.
During the hearings yesterday the NI although not admitting its executives had covered up the extent of the hacking, did agree that the amounts awarded should be based as if that was the case. Now that doesn’t sound like much, but what we are actually talking about is perverting the course of justice. It seems very unlikely that senior executives at NI were not committing crinimal offenses after the original hacking took place. As so often we have two types of crimes linked. First there were journalists, editors, private investigators and such directly involved in the hacking of personal information. This was followed by more senior managers trying to cover up the original crimes.
All equal under the law. A wonderful idea. So a rich or powerful man should be judged to the same standard of someone from a far lower position in society. Let’s come up with a couple of examples.
Do you remember after last summer’s riots how Cameron was encouraging judges and magistrates to give punishments which would act as deterrents for future rioting. Just recently didn’t another of those teenage boys who called for a riot on Facebook, which didn’t happen, get a three year sentence? So will Cameron call for deterrent sentencing of NI executives to show other newspaper managements that what was going on at the News of the World will not be tolerated?
I’m sure some think that I’m being dreadful comparing these figures of high society who are part of the Chipping Norton set with those lowlife working class teenagers. Well no matter. No need to argue. Instead I will compare them with two of their own.
You see one of their senior journalists, Clive Goodman, received a four month stretch at Her Majesty’s pleasure and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator received a six month term. See no need to go looking at teenage hoodlums.
So if the we go along with accepted wisdom that the cover up is worse than the crime we start to get an idea of what sentences would be correct for those found guilty, and by all the comparisons they must be custodial. It’s hard to see how tariffs of less than a year would be correct. Now if Cameron does tell the judges and magistrates that examples need to made again it would be hard to see anything less than those boys got as being suitable, in other words three years.
All this and we haven’t even mentioned senior officers at the Met receiving money and favours from NI. What should they get? Still not to worry as we are equal under the law. We can see that by the number of bankers who have been arrested.
What? There are none?