Crocodile tears from the alligator’s eyes
First Paul Stephenson, head of the Metropolitan Police, resigns. A day later, assistant Commissioner John Yates, takes over. The fall-out from the hacking scandal is kicking into effect, and the police are heavily implicated. However, is the choice of priorities when it comes to police accountability somewhat misguided? When people die in police custody, a barrage of misinformation, excuses and made-up stories often suffice, but when the telephones of celebrities and politicians are hacked, resignations are flowing like the crocodile tears of the Murdoch empire.
In a statement made today, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that “Whatever mistakes have been made at any level in the police service, now is the time to clear them up.” If only this was the case. But John Yates has been replaced by Cressida Dick, head of the police operation that led to the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, a completely innocent man shot dead in Stockwell Tube Station. Would this classify as a “mistake”, or is de Menezes’ life not worth mentioning?
What will happen next? As it becomes clear that the police were reluctant to properly investigate the phone hacking scandal at an earlier time, this relationship between police and media must be examined in further detail. Why is it that Rebekah Brooks’ arrest was originally described as that of “a 43 year-old female”, when the arrests’ of students attending demonstrations are immediately accompanied by names and addresses, all the better for the media to track those people down? Why is it that media witch-hunts of political demonstrators, such as that conducted by the Daily Telegraph in the aftermath of the occupation of the Millbank Tower, are often followed by dawn raids on the houses of those attending the demonstration? When there is no evidence presented, and no crime alleged, how does the media get away with running “Have you seen these student rioters?” headlines?
The phone hacking scandal has seemingly provoked another bout of the “we didn’t know” syndrome. We didn’t know that tabloid newspapers hacked people’s phones to write stories. The police and the media work hand-in-hand… we didn’t know! Rupert Murdoch heads a ruthless media empire… we didn’t know! We didn’t know! We didn’t know!
I cannot help but to think that these arrests and resignations are part of a smokescreen to ignore a wider problem. Stephenson and Yates might be gone, but the next head of the Metropolitan Police will, surely, use similar levels of violence to repress political dissent. The News of the World might have closed down, but the culture of cheap information, propaganda and lies remains.
These are crocodile tears falling from the alligator’s eyes. It is not surprise we are seeing, it is embarrassment. The News of the World was not shut down for the lives it ruined, but to save face for the Murdoch empire. Police chiefs are not resigning when people die in the custody of their officers, but will do to retain an illusion of accountability when the media turns against them. David Cameron will not step down for bombing Libyan civilians, but maybe he will for this.Tagged in: John Yates, Metropolitan Police, news of the worldPaul Stephenson, rupert murdoch
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