London: The entire British press stands in
the dock because of its alleged practice of buying, stealing
and manufacturing stories, according to the lawyer who
represents 51 victims of phone-hacking and other forms of
intrusion into individual privacy.
Deposing today before the Lord Justice Leveson inquiry
into the media`s culture, practices and ethics, lawyer David
Sherborne said the British press had a `self-serving agenda`,
and added that not only the tabloids but the entire press
stands `in the dock`.
He said: "While there are 51 core participant victims
there are many more with similar stories. The press is a
powerful body. They have a common interest and a self-serving
agenda...this is about survival... A number of individuals
have already been vilified for agreeing to share their
experiences with this inquiry".
Noting that the police had pointed to over 2,000
assignments relating to the `News of the World` in notebooks
belonging to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, Sherborne
said this suggested that over the four years the notebooks
covered, each edition of the tabloid could have had around 10
stories a day based on phone hacking "even leaving aside the
other dark arts practiced by the newspaper".
The now closed tabloid`s stories were built on "manifestly
unholy and indefensible ground", he said and added that the
number of stories "must surely raise questions about who knew
what and what level".
In a statement to the inquiry, The Guardian editor Alan
Rusbridger said it was important that the inquiry looked at
the 18 months after News International`s "so-called rotten
apple excuse" had exploded.
He referred to "dogs that didn`t bark", and asked why it
took four inquiries before phone-hacking allegations were
The events leading up to Lord Justice Leveson`s inquiry
had been "shocking and immensely damaging", he said in the
Rusbridger asked whether News International`s influence
had been too dominant: "Did people both internally and
externally feel a fear of News International?"
National Union of Journalists head Michelle Stanistreet
said journalists faced relentless pressure to deliver stories
but that cutbacks diminished the ability to generate quality
She described the pressure on journalists to deliver
stories as "relentless", saying: "Such pressures lead to
shortcuts and can result in the abandoning of fundamental