David Leigh, an assistant editor at the Guardian, admitted to hacking voicemails in an article written in 2006 that just seems to have been dug up. Leigh listened to the messages of a “corrupt arms company executive,” and said his aim was to expose “bribery and corruption.” Interestingly, his paper was the one that broke the empire-burning News of the World hacking scandal in the first place.
Investigative journalism is not a dinner party, particularly in a secretive country like ours where the privacy cards are stacked in favour of the rich and powerful. But it all depends on what the target is.
I’ve used some of those questionable methods myself over the years. I, too, once listened to the mobile phone messages of a corrupt arms company executive – the crime similar to that for which Goodman now faces the prospect of jail. The trick was a simple one: the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail.
And it gets a bit juicier:
But we all use deception. I still treasure the moment when I rang up Mark Thatcher in Downing Street. Thatcher was secretly on the payroll of a firm trying to get a construction deal in Oman. But at the time, we could not yet prove a link between him and the Middle East fixer concerned, whose name was Jamil Amyuni. “Who’s calling?” said the Downing Street switchboard. I said “Tell him it’s Jamil Amyuni”. In two seconds flat, Mark came on the line, and shouted cheerily “Hi, Jamil!” We had our story. Was I wrong to do that? Surely not. We were successfully exposing what many people thought was misbehaviour by the then prime minister’s son, who was shamelessly exploiting his position.
A Guardian spokeswoman told Metro that “The Guardian does not and has not authorised phone hacking.” Odd.