MPs and surveillance: 2009, not six months ago?

Tom Watson MP and member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has reported on his blog that

Roy Greenslade has just revealed that six months ago, members of the DCMS Select Committee were the targets of covert surveillance by private investigators and journalists working for News International. This revelation became the third occasion that I know of in which I was a target of covert surveillance News Corp in the UK.

Under the circumstances, I have to spend the day seeking advice from the Speaker and discussing the matter with fellow members of the DCMS Select Committee as to our legal and constitutional position.

The information is from an interview Roy Greenslade gave to Media Matters radio, as reported by Huffington Post here. He said:

“I do have a source who was at News of the World … he tells me that for three days, only six, seven months ago, every single member of the parliamentary committee investigating this matter were followed by private eyes and or members of staff at the newspaper.

“Only after some of the staff protested that they didn’t want to do it were they called off.

“That goes even beyond what we previously heard and I’ve only just been told this in the last 24 hours. I wish I could name the source but I have it confidentially.”

Greenslade has now tweeted an update:

I said on Media Matters surveillance of MPs was six months ago. Source now says it was mid-2009. Big difference. Tom watson, please note

But this may not alter the need for the Committee to consider its “legal and constitutional position”.

Meanwhile, Times editor James Harding has criticised Watson for his mafia comment to James Murdoch at last week’s hearing. The Guardian reports from the Society of Editors conference:

The Times editor said that the Labour MP was a man who “has put a lot of energy and thought in the pursuit of News International” but that in making “this extraordinary claim” he “goes from looking like a man who is pursuing an investigation, he goes to looking like a man who is pursuing an agenda”.

Update: Roy Greenslade has now blogged about the story here.

This entry was posted in blogging, media ethics, media law, newspapers, phone hacking, press freedom and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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