The scandal enjoys the potential to topple Rupert Murdoch, known as the UK’s most powerful man since then Prime Minister Winston Churchill as well as David Cameron, the current Prime Minister of Britain.
The escalating scandal has become a controversial issue like the US Watergate saga, which brought down the government of the then American president Richard Nixon in 1974.
Like Watergate, the core of the problem will be the cover-up. It’s always the attempt to cover-up that does the damage.
The phone-hacking scandal grows legs by the day and is now certain to be long-running, according to British media reports.
The scandal resurfaced after it was revealed that a newspaper secretly listened to telephone messages of murdered schoolgirls and other private citizens. It produced shock and anger.
Police are investigating allegations that a News International’s executive deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct inquiries into phone hacking.
On Friday, police also arrested Andy Coulson, former editor of Britain’s best-selling newspaper, News of the World. The investigation led him to resign in January as communications director to David Cameron.
Coulson was arrested on suspicion of bribing police officers and conspiracy to phone hack. Meanwhile, Clive Goodman, the News of the World (NOTW)’s former royal correspondent, was held in a dawn raid on suspicion of bribing police officers. Both of the men were bailed.
At a Downing Street press conference, Cameron defended his decision to appoint Coulson as director of communications, but admitted his relationship with senior members of the Murdoch empire had been too close.
“The deeper truth is this… because party leaders were so keen to win the support of newspapers we turned a blind eye to the need to sort this issue, get on top of the bad practices, to change the way our newspapers are regulated,” he said. “I want to deal with it.”
Cameron said he now thought it was wrong to keep Ms Brooks at the company: “It has been reported that she offered her resignation over this and in this situation, I would have taken it.”
Cameron was also asked whether James Murdoch remained a fit and proper person to run a large company, following his admission that he personally approved out-of-court payments in a way, which he now accepted was wrong.
“I read the statement yesterday. I think it raises lots of questions that need to be answered and these processes that are under way are going to have to answer those questions”, replied the Prime Minister.
It also appeared that Cameron ignored several warnings that the man he appointed his chief press officer had taken part in much more illegal activities than he had ever admitted.
However, Cameron has promised that a judge will lead a full public inquiry into the case after police complete their investigation.
“Murder victims, terrorist victims, families who have lost loved ones, sometimes defending our country, that these people could have had their phones hacked into, in order to generate stories for a newspaper, is simply disgusting”, boasted the Prime Minister.
He also called for a second investigation.
“The second inquiry should look at the culture, the practices and the ethics of the British press. In particular, they should look at how our newspapers are regulated and make recommendations for the future. Of course, it is vital that our press is free, that is an essential component for our democracy, for our way of life. But press freedom does not mean that the press should be above the law”, he said.
On Thursday, the company News International said it will stop publishing the weekly News of the World. News International belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, also known as News Corp. The one hundred sixty-eight-year-old newspaper will publish for the last time on Sunday.
Phone-hacking and Watergate scandals had both small beginnings – a break-in at a hotel, and a single “rogue” reporter and private detective.