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Would it have been OK to hack Jimmy Savile's phone?
11 Oct 2012
BY PADRAIG REIDY

As already mentioned on this blog, at least one editor has said the libel laws made him nervous of printing allegations of broadcaster Jimmy Savile’s abuse of young girls. There are certainly more complex reasons behind the failure to properly report the story in the past, but it is worth looking at the broader ethical questions the case raises. Former trustee and long-time associate of Index on Censorship Mark Stephens has posed one such question on Twitter this morning.

 

Or, to generalise the question: what kind of issue justifies intrusion and subterfuge on the part of journalists? And what level of intrusion and subterfuge? It’s a problem Lord Justice Leveson’s panel of assessors is bound to be discussing. What do you think?

Padraig Reidy

14 responses to “Would it have been OK to hack Jimmy Savile's phone?”

  1. Marie Kris says:

    No, hacking can be illegal if it’s about invading someone’s privacy.

  2. Marie Kris says:

    No, hacking can be illegal if it’s about invading someone’s privacy.

  3. moshe says:

    nice !

  4. moshe says:

    nice !

  5. Ex-Kiwi says:

    What about the paedophiles within St John who are about to be awarded by the Queen’s representative:
    http://bit.ly/ourNZexperience

  6. Ex-Kiwi says:

    What about the paedophiles within St John who are about to be awarded by the Queen’s representative:
    http://bit.ly/ourNZexperience

  7. Dan says:

    No it wouldn’t have been. Phone hacking is just as bad as child abuse.

  8. Dan says:

    No it wouldn’t have been. Phone hacking is just as bad as child abuse.

  9. davelong says:

    Hacking his phone would, presumably, have been tried because a journo a. knew Savile was a sex offender and b. thought some evidence of actual criminal wrongdoing was there. So it would be morally (if not legally) justifiable. It’s very different to simply ‘fishing’ for showbiz gossip. Dishonesty is often justifiable in the pursuit of a greater good. Who gets to decide what the ‘greater good’ is – that’s another can o’ worms.

  10. davelong says:

    Hacking his phone would, presumably, have been tried because a journo a. knew Savile was a sex offender and b. thought some evidence of actual criminal wrongdoing was there. So it would be morally (if not legally) justifiable. It’s very different to simply ‘fishing’ for showbiz gossip. Dishonesty is often justifiable in the pursuit of a greater good. Who gets to decide what the ‘greater good’ is – that’s another can o’ worms.

  11. Nothing to do with libel? On the contrary, libel is largely irrelevant when it comes to the journalistic gathering of and publishing hard evidence of criminal activities. That is part of what journalists do. It is in their job description. You could call it a public service obligation.

    Mark Stephens asks a most pertinent question, and one to which there is no easy answer. That the question raises issues concerning the largely vacuous public debate around Leveson says more about the inquiry than it does about journalistic ethics.

  12. Nothing to do with libel? On the contrary, libel is largely irrelevant when it comes to the journalistic gathering of and publishing hard evidence of criminal activities. That is part of what journalists do. It is in their job description. You could call it a public service obligation.

    Mark Stephens asks a most pertinent question, and one to which there is no easy answer. That the question raises issues concerning the largely vacuous public debate around Leveson says more about the inquiry than it does about journalistic ethics.

  13. SadButMadLad says:

    If Jimmy Saville did do all the stuff he is alleged to have done then it’s nothing to do with libel. It’s a case for the police.

  14. SadButMadLad says:

    If Jimmy Saville did do all the stuff he is alleged to have done then it’s nothing to do with libel. It’s a case for the police.