Kelvin Mackenzie

Who will say sorry to Rupert?

Who will say sorry to Rupert?
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Welcome to the world of journalism, Nick Davies. So the cops in Surrey told you the story was true — or so you claim. The cops at the Yard told you it was true — or so you claim. Every aching bone in your reporter’s anti-Murdoch body told you it was true. But there was a problem — as we all now know today. The Milly Dowler story that led The Guardian on that fateful day back in July was untrue: there is no evidence to show that the News of the World deleted Milly's voicemails.

So what price has Nick Davies paid since he tried to slip his deliberately unintelligible apology into Page 10 of The Guardian on Saturday? None at all. Not suspended. Not sacked. What price has Alan Rusbridger, the paper’s ho-hum £500,000-a-year Editor paid? None at all. Not suspended. Not sacked. Not a peep out of the management. You might think they’d call an emergency Board meeting, and sling him out for a mistake of this magnitude.

Compare their safe haven to the 300 staff at the News of The World who lost their jobs when Rupert Murdoch was forced to close the title, as he feared a threatened advertiser strike at the Sunday paper might spread to his other titles. By my reckoning only one-in-ten of those journalists will have found work today. What do you care about those people, Mr Davies? Why don’t you suggest at the Guardian’s morning conference tomorrow that you write a spread on the innocent, jobless victims of the Milly Dowler scandal? Some hope.

As it was made clear by the Yard at the Leveson inquiry, Milly Dowler’s phone had an automatic 72-hour deletion process for messages that had been listened to — and therefore there is ‘no evidence’ that they had been deleted a News of The World employee.

There are other victims of this reporting scandal. Rupert Murdoch is one of them. Will the Guardian give ‘due prominence’ — one of their favourite phrases when attacking tabloid mistakes — to an apology to Rupert Murdoch? Perhaps they might clear Page One. After all, Rupert was forced to make a personal apology to the Dowlers — both in private and in front of the TV cameras — for an offence which, it now transpires, his paper did not commit.

I happen to know that Rupert was a reduced man because of Dowler. At 81 he still has remarkable energy but the whole affair had exhausted him, and continues to exhaust.

Perhaps Mr Davies and Mr Rusbridger should also apology to Lord Leveson. As a law lord, he was busy enough without being lumbered with this crackpot tribunal into Press ethics. It was only set up by David Cameron after the Dowler scandal, and now we know there is no truth in it, what is the point of Lord Leveson wasting his time? He must feel a complete idiot, and the outcome of his inquiry will be a non-event. Surely this Guardian story is a case study for the failings in newspaper ethics and standards? I can’t wait for Nick Davies to appear in front of Leveson and explain how hard he tried to get the story right — and how sorry he is that the whole thing has blown up in his smug face.

Perhaps Davies and Co should also apologise to the Prime Minister. Cameron made it clear that stars with a weakness for call girls (Hugh Grant had one, Mosely five, Coogan two lapdancers and class A drugs) were of no concern. But evidence being tampered with when it concerned the murder of a 13-year-old, that was different.

He was right. But what now? The problem with journalism is that people don’t tell you the truth. They think it’s the truth, they hope it’s the truth, they wish it to be the truth but they get it plain wrong.

You don’t need Leveson to discover that. But it won’t be a bad lesson for him. See you all at the Rusbridger farewell party. With a bit of luck it won’t be long now.