The scandal continues

New allegations against the News of the World suggest the newspaper may have targeted the families o

It seems there are no depths to which the News of the World will not sink. The news that the parents of Soham murder victims, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, were contacted by the police has raised suspicions that they, too, have been victims of the hacking scandal.

And if that weren't bad enough, it has now emerged that the bereaved relatives of the 7/7 terrorist attacks may also have been targeted.

Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the Edgware Road blast, confirmed that was contacted by officers on Tuesday after his details were discovered on a list as part of the police inquiry into hacking claims. He has called the revelations "extraordinarily distressing", and condemned the practices of journalists seeking an exclusive story:

"The thought that somebody may have been listening to [us] just looking for a cheap headline is just horredous."

On Tuesday, new evidence came to light of payments made to senior officers of the Metropolitan Police by the News of the World between 2003 and 2007, the period in which Andy Coulson served as the paper's editor. Coulson admitted as much in 2003.

Calls for Rebekah Brooks's resignation have intensified over the new revelations, with David Cameron and Ed Milliband also weighing in to discredit their former chum -- who they seemed to have no problem cosying up to at Rupert Murdoch's summer party in June.

Emanuelle Degli Esposti is the editor and founder of The Arab Review, an online journal covering arts and culture in the Arab world. She also works as a freelance journalist specialising in the politics of the Middle East.

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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.