Something that always fascinates me about media reports are the promiscuous references to insiders: “police sources”; “governmental sources”; “friends” et cetera. Sometimes these insiders have been hunted down like rats; on other occasions, though, they’re free to spread lurid allegations without fear of reprisals. So, in the case of Gareth Williams, “police” and “security” “sources” have propounded all sorts of wacky claims about the man: from his private life to supposed suspects for his murder. Ironically, yet another anonymous source was quoted as saying that “someone, somewhere, who has access to case materials” was trying to obfuscate the investigation. Yes, it sounds like it: these anonymous sources. But – unlike, say, when a “source” is handing uncomfortable secrets to Wikileaks – no one in power has shown interest.
The guys and gals at J7 have unearthed a cracker here. In August 2005, the Times reported…
[Hasib Hussain], youngest of the July 7 bombers, made three desperate telephone calls begging for help from the other members of the terror cell minutes before he blew himself up on a London bus.
The frantic last messages are seen by Scotland Yard as vivid proof that the British-born Muslim extremists intended to die in the attacks.
A police source who has heard the telephone calls said: “His voice was getting more and more frantic with each call.”
These messages were not played nor even were they claimed to exist during the recent 7/7 Inquests.
We need to know:
Did the Times hack the phone messages of the 4 accused of 7/7?
Who was the ‘police source’ who gave this information to the Times?
Why did the 7/7 Inquests not have an opportunity to hear these messages?
Why did the 7/7 Inquests not refer to these messages?
The story is interesting enough in itself. The Times implied that the police were holding substantial and fascinating evidence of Hussain’s actions. Yet, assuming that J7 are correct in their account, it hasn’t been heard of again. What’s up wi’ that?
Yet it also illustrates the point that phone hacking is one of the rotten apples in the rotten fruit salad of our journalism. The indifference to the relevance, validity and ethics of its sourcing – among other things – is also illustrated here; in far more “respectable” publications and, sometimes, as part of far more consequential episodes. (The Telegraph, for example, has been caught time and again regurgitating MI6 and CIA propaganda.)
We (by which I mean “general people”, not the brave few readers of Back Towards The Locus) should grasp this opportunity to promote the scepticism mainstream reportage has long deserved. It’s not going to be cured. We should do our best to make accurate diagnoses so we can at least recognise its symptoms and try not to be infected.
That, at least, is what a little bird has told me.