New York Times Watches as Phone Hacking Story Stirs British Rivals into Action

0907timesmag New York Times Watches as Phone Hacking Story Stirs British Rivals into ActionThe New York Times Magazine story about phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World under editor Andy Coulson is causing quite the backlash across the pond. Times editor Bill Keller is happy to just watch.

Labour party leaders are striking out against Mr. Coulson, who is now working on Downing Street as the chief communications officer for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, and urging Scotland Yard to re-open investigations on the matter.

The Times’ story also stirred the pot of rivalries in the British press. The Independent, the BBC and The Guardian — news outlets competing with Mr. Murdoch’s papers — are diligently covering the new charges, according to follow-up in The New York Times by Don Van Natta Jr. and Sarah Lyall.

The phone-hacking case presents the chance to expose the relationship between Scotland Yard and some of Mr. Murdoch’s papers. From The Guardian:

In the upper echelons of Scotland Yard there is a recognition that, as the biggest-selling Sunday newspaper in the world, the [News of the World] wields enormous power and influence over a large number of readers. There is genuine admiration for the way in which the newspaper has successfully conducted undercover operations which have brought major criminals to book over the years. As a result there is undoubtedly a cosy relationship between the yard and all of Rupert Murdoch’s News International titles. Several retired commissioners and senior officers have found space as columnists or regular writers in the Sun and the News of the World.

The Conservative government and the Murdoch empire are both protecting Mr. Coulson. Last week a spokesman for 10 Downing street said that Mr. Coulson “totally and utterly” denied knowledge of phone hacking during his time editing The News.

International development minister Alan Duncan appeared on television on Saturday night on behalf of the Conservative government to accuse the Labour Party of going after Mr. Coulson for purely political reasons, according to The Times.

News of the World editor Bill Akass told The Guadian that The Times‘ story was “unsubstantiated” immediately after it was published online last week. 

New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said that he has declined to make his reporters’ notes available to Scotland Yard, just as Scotland Yard was totally unhelpful to The Times. Mr. Keller spoke with his reporters, Mr. Van Natta Jr. and Ms. Lyall, for their follow-up piece. He said, “Our story speaks for itself and makes clear that the police already have evidence that they have chosen not to pursue.”

In Britain, Labour Politicians Call for New Look at Scandal [NYT]

The News of the Worlds’ special relationship with the police [The Guardian]