#Hackgate has morphed into a life of its own. Any headline that runs for more 11 days is a ‘crisis’, journalism 101. As other scandals before, it seems fitting to postfix this with a ‘gate’.
Unravelling on the 4th of July 2011, with the revelation that 13 year old murdered school girl, Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked. The horrific sequence of events of an investigator working for the News Of The World intercepting her voicemail and obstructing an ongoing search of the girl, who months later , was found dead.
In the words of former Chief Executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, the revelation ‘disgusted ‘ the executives at News International.
Founder of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch met the family at a private meeting in London and apologised. In true political fashion the Prime minister, deputy prime minister & leader of the opposition have met the Dowler family. Some cynics may assert that this was part of crisis management or political posturing for the leader of the opposition.
In the midst of all the resignations, conferences, hearings- there’s one unaddressed point- What about Sienna Miller? Sienna Miller was the first celebrity to publicly seek legal counsel in light of the interception of her voicemails. The story was buried in the press and very few inch columns were dedicated to thoroughly reporting this.
During 2005/2006 Ms Miller’s minute detail of her life was reported on a daily basis but the sources of these were never publicly questioned.
Rebekah Brooks, informed the Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, that the firm only realised the extent of allegations during actress Sienna Miller’s civil case in 2010.
Sienna Miller’s privacy and harassment claim against the News of the World over alleged phone-hacking by its reporters was settled for 100,000 pounds damages on the 7th of June 2011.
Hugh Tomlinson QC, Miller’s barrister at the time stated ‘”Her primary concern is not how much money is rewarded by way of compensation but what the extent was of the hacking that took place,” he said. “What she wants is to have is disclosure and proper answers from the News of the World as to what took place so she can have effective non-monetary relief and can be properly compensated.”
In a culture where the media wields ( or wielded – the jury is still out on this one) unchallenged influence in determining the rise and fall of a career, Sienna Miller’s lawsuit against the News Of The World was a principled one. The conventional wisdom would have been to cozy to the media outlets through PR firms with known ties to the media.
At the time, Michael Silverleaf QC, ( News International’s barrister) said of Sienna Miller’s claim “What she wants is a public inquiry that goes beyond what the remedy in civil law provides.’’
It appears that Ms Miller will get that public inquiry after all.
Snowdrop Online © (2011)