News Corp’s Irish scandal may yet prove to be Murdoch’s Achilles heel


As if all the above was not enough, evidence is now emerging that in that very year of 2006, and
at the defining moment in the peace process, News International operatives may possibly have
hacked Hugh Orde, the then Chief of Police in Northern Ireland. The hacking of Orde is still being
investigated but, more significantly, the Metropolitan Police have warned Peter Hain, who was then
the Province’s effective Prime Minister, that he is almost certainly a victim of News International

Apart from some articles in the liberal Guardian and elsewhere, there has been a surprising g lack of
comment on this major development in the Irish hacking story. Instead, and bizarrely, newspapers
and the media have concentrated on the fact that the former long term informant for Times
Newspapers mentioned above, Ian Hurst, was also hacked. Yet there can be no comparison between
the hacking of a former low ranking, and discredited, intelligence operative like Hurst and the
hacking of a secretary of state.

As journalists, we must ask ourselves what the political situation was in 2006 when Secretary of
State Peter Hain was hacked. The answer to this question is that in April of 2006, Hain had warned
the Unionists and their supporters in Whitehall that if they did not sign up to the planned 2007
peace talks at St Andrews in Scotland he would impose joint rule from London and Dublin. This
was the meltdown option for those who see themselves as British in Northern Ireland and it is a
reasonable conclusion, given the above litany of journalistic and political transgressions, that News
International hackers were looking for dirt on Hain and possibly Hugh Orde so as to throw the peace
process into crisis and render Hain’s threat of Dublin Rule redundant. If this is true, these hacking
operations would seem to be a clear breach of US anti corruption laws.

Has there been a single question in the USA about the very recent hacking of one of Ireland’s most
senior statesmen and public officials? If and when these Irish News Corp scandals are fully examined
in America, they may well prove to be the final straws that broke Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp back.

@ Paul Larkin
Former European Journalist of the Year and BBC journalist and film maker.