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The culture that sends a reporter to jail

When I was a young reporter we used to joke: “Its the editor who goes to jail.” How wrong we were. Tonight Clive Goodman, royal reporter of the News of the World, and Glen Mulcaire, the private eye who hacked into phone messages of Prince William and others, are in prison. The editor is free.

What they did is indefensible and they deserve to be banged up. Sentencing Goodman to four months, Mr Justice Gross told him: “This was low conduct, reprehensible in the extreme. It is about grave, inexcusable and illegal invasion of privacy.”

There are no issues of press freedom here and Goodman and the PI Glen Mulcaire (sentenced to six months) pleaded guilty, so preventing the whole sordid story being explored in court.

After the verdict Andy Coulson, the NoW editor, resigned saying he took responsibility for the scandal, according to the BBC. He should. There is no way that the editor could not have been involved in Mulcaire’s contract worth £104,988 plus £12,300 in cash in a year.

By rights Coulson should also be in one of Her Majesty’s jails, possible the condemned A-wing of Norwich prison with its leaking sewer pipes which was reopened this week to cope with prison overcrowding.

Instead he will have been enjoying a decent meal and nice sheets. And it goes further; the proprietor creates the culture and pressures which result in people behaving in this way. I hope Rupert Murdoch is thinking about that.

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