July 7, 2011
Perhaps the biggest ever media scandal rocks Britain, with Rupert Murdoch’s empire being shattered by a storm of public revulsion, at last.
The tabloid News of the World takes centerstage, as it became known that it had tapped the phones of victims of the 2005 London bombings to get scoops. Also, News of the world paid tens of thousands of pounds to policemen for the same purpose. Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News of the World, who appears on this photo with Murdoch, apparently will be forced out of her job.
I have a personal experience with News of the World. In 2006 I was working as a journalist in my country Bulgaria. It was just before Bulgaria and Romania’s EU accession, and News of the World and the eurosceptic press in general were conducting a campaign, telling their readers that hoards of prostitutes and bandits would plunder the British isles.
I was approached by a journalist sent by News of the World in Sofia, who asked me to help him find a document falsifier, who would produce for him a fake passport with the photo of the UK minister of interior of Home Secretary as they are called. The Home Secretary was John Reid at that time if I remember well.
So this was the scoop his bosses had asked him to do.
I told my colleague no way, because commissioning a fake passport is punishable by several years of enprisonment. I don’t know if he tried by his own means to obtain such a fake passport. But I saw his report from Bulgaria published several days later, in which he quoted me. However, he had put in my mouth things I had not said, which basically depicted my country as hell. In spite of the fact that he had told me he was pleasantly surprised how nice the country is.
So I called him in the UK. He apologised, saying that his had not been comfortable putting words in my mouth I did not say, but his newspaper policy was to badmouth Bulgaria, so he had to follow the rules of the house…
One more thing he said: Our readers expect it that way, we cannot disappoint them.Georgi Gotev