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.

Show Hide image

Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.