DCSIMG

Hacking trial ‘not about vengeance’ – Sheffield MP

MP David Blunkett

MP David Blunkett

The hacking trial was about justice for the victims of ‘gross intrusion’ and not ‘vengeance on the media’, former home secretary David Blunkett said.

The Sheffield and Hillsborough MP said: “I am naturally pleased that the evidence I have been able to provide has assisted in achieving justice for all those who were victims of and previously subject to, illegal and therefore criminal hacking of their telephone answerphone messages and the gross intrusion into their privacy.

“No one should misinterpret what has happened as an indictment of a free press or of the professionalism of most trained and dedicated journalists. Nor should they see this as ‘vengeance’ on the media as a whole or even one particular publisher.

“This was and remains a matter of criminality, of gross intrusion into the private lives of innocent people and a distortion and aberration of everything that high standards of journalism stand for.

“The damage that has been done to the lives of so many people, the undermining of trust (both between individuals and in the press in general), and the undermining both of personal relationships and of professional standing, can never be restored.

“Yet the dedicated work of genuine investigatory journalists was responsible at least in part for bringing to book those who were prepared to use whatever means and at whatever personal consequences to ‘get the story’.

“Nothing can restore the well-being of those affected and I am only sorry that both family and close friends of mine were drawn into this purely because of their relationship with me as a public figure.”

Mr Blunkett, whose affair with married Spectator publisher Kimberly Quinn came to light through phone hacking in 2004, went on: “I have been pleased to do my duty as a citizen in providing key evidence in this case, but I am also concerned that witnesses now and in the future should be protected from having their private lives re-run in open court. Details which were only obtained by criminality and intrusion into privacy in the first place have, over the last seven months, been reported all over again.

“It is, to say the least, bizarre that stolen material which breached such personal privacy should be allowed to be played in open court in a way which repeats the hurt, the distress and the personal emotional damage all over again, 10 years later.

“I believe in ‘open justice’. I do not wish, except in very exceptional circumstances, for material to be withheld from the open court. However, there are times when the jury and judge alone should hear material which was never intended for public consumption, and parts of this trial were examples of such moments.

“I hope the Attorney General will take a look at a light touch review of what might be done, not to withhold evidence or to undermine the rights of the defence, but rather to ensure that witnesses or victims do not find themselves damaged by a process that has already caused deep hurt, and to which they are only subject to further scrutiny because they have been prepared to stand up and be counted.

“This is clearly not about me. I am a public figure and have been for almost 45 years. This is about those who never asked to be in the public eye in the first place and who have been subject to the most grievous misreporting, personal misrepresentation and abuse, and now to further public scrutiny, simply because of the actions of people who acted illegally, brought the journalistic profession into disrepute, and put personal success before high standards.

“It is crucial to ensure that the free and open media continue to play their part in protecting our democracy and rooting out corruption and wrongdoing, wherever it occurs.

“In addition, I hope that making further progress on the back of the Leveson Inquiry can be seen as an imperative for both the print media who have established IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation), and the three main political parties in such a way as to make any necessary compromise for a lasting solution, and above all to concentrate on the need to raise those professional standards and to root out any unacceptable processes of investigation.

“This is not a moment to settle old scores but instead to move forward positively in the interests of a free democracy.”

 
 
 

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