Leveson Inquiry 2.0?
New accusations levelled at, and denied by, Mail publisher
Amidst political and economic tumult in the UK, a potentially huge media storm is brewing. Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail and its sister publications, is being sued by a group of high-profile figures for “gross breaches of privacy”. Those making the allegations include Prince Harry, Sir Elton John, Sadie Frost and, crucially, Baroness Doreen Lawrence.
Baroness Lawrence is the mother of Stephen Lawrence, the Black teenager who was killed in a racist attack in April 1993. The Daily Mail led high-profile campaigns to bring his killers to justice, not least with its famous “MURDERERS” front page in 1997. The splash, pictured above, is widely seen as one of the most powerful examples of UK campaigning journalism.
The relationship between the Mail and Doreen Lawrence, later appointed to the House of Lords by Labour, continued for many years. However, an announcement by lawyers Hamlins, who are acting for some of the claimants, accused Associated Newspapers of:
The hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside people’s cars and homes
The commissioning of individuals to surreptitiously listen into and record people’s live, private telephone calls whilst they were taking place
The payment of police officials, with corrupt links to private investigators, for inside, sensitive information
The impersonation of individuals to obtain medical information from private hospitals, clinics, and treatment centres by deception
The accessing of bank accounts, credit histories and financial transactions through illicit means and manipulation.
Responding, an Associated Newspapers spokesperson told Press Gazzette:
We utterly and unambiguously refute these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old. These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims – based on no credible evidence – appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.
Specifically, on Baroness Lawrence, the spokesperson said:
The Daily Mail has campaigned tirelessly for 25 years to obtain justice for Stephen Lawrence and other victims of injustice. The paper is known throughout Fleet Street for its work exposing corruption and incompetence in the police.
They said it was “deeply saddening that whoever is cynically and unscrupulously orchestrating these claims appears to have persuaded Baroness Lawrence – for whom the Mail has the greatest respect and admiration” and that “Associated Newspapers will contest these claims with the utmost vigour.”
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