A new bombshell in the phone hacking scandal

Former NoW royal editor Clive Goodman alleges that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial

Just when you thought the phone hacking scandal had reached a lull, Clive Goodman's bombshell of a letter turns up. The letter (which you can read here) was released this afternoon by the DCMS select committee and is potentially devastating for Andy Coulson's defence. Goodman alleges that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings until Coulson banned "explicit reference" to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he did not "implicate" the paper; and that his own hacking was carried out with the "full knowledge and support" of other senior NoW journalists (whose names have been redacted at the request of Scotland Yard). It's yet more evidence of a gigantic cover up.

Goodman's missive could also prove disastrous for Murdoch consigliere Les Hinton, who received a copy but failed to pass it to the police, and who told the select committee just days later (on 6 March 2007) that the tabloid's former royal editor was "the only person" involved in phone hacking. The letter, which is addressed to News International's director of human resources, Daniel Cloke, is dated 2 March 2007 and was sent shortly after Goodman had served a four-month prison sentence for phone hacking. It was intended as an appeal against Hinton's decision to dismiss him for "gross misconduct".

Significantly, as the Guardian's Nick Davies reports, two versions of Goodman's letter were supplied to the committee. One, supplied by law firm Harbottle & Lewis, was redacted to remove the names of NoW journalists, at the police's request. The other, which was supplied by News International, was redacted to also remove all references to hacking being discussed at editorial meetings.

There's also more bad news for the Murdochs themselves. In a separate letter, Harbottle & Lewis criticises the pair's evidence to the select committee as "hard to credit" and "self-serving". The law firm points out that its investigation was limited to whether Goodman hacked phones with the knowledge of other journalists, not whether "general" criminality took place at the tabloid. Thus, it was dishonest of the Murdochs to present a letter from the firm as evidence that News International had received a clean bill of health.

The select committee, which accurately described the evidence as "devastating", has said that James Murdoch is "likely" to be recalled but that Rupert Murdoch is not. In an allusion to Murdoch senior's ignorance and/or amnesia, Tom Watson said that the "devil is in the detail".

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Labour is a pioneer in fighting sexism. That doesn't mean there's no sexism in Labour

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

I’m in the Labour party to fight for equality. I cheered when Labour announced that one of its three Budget tests was ensuring the burden of cuts didn’t fall on women. I celebrated the party’s record of winning rights for women on International Women’s Day. And I marched with Labour women to end male violence against women and girls.

I’m proud of the work we’re doing for women across the country. But, as the Labour party fights for me to feel safer in society, I still feel unsafe in the Labour party.

These problems are not unique to the Labour party; misogyny is everywhere in politics. You just have to look on Twitter to see women MPs – and any woman who speaks out – receiving rape and death threats. Women at political events are subject to threatening behaviour and sexual harassment. Sexism and violence against women at its heart is about power and control. And, as we all know, nowhere is power more highly-prized and sought-after than in politics.

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

The House of Commons’ women and equalities committee recently stated that political parties should have robust procedures in place to prevent intimidation, bullying or sexual harassment. The committee looked at this thanks to the work of Gavin Shuker, who has helped in taking up this issue since we first started highlighting it. Labour should follow this advice, put its values into action and change its structures and culture if we are to make our party safe for women.

We need thorough and enforced codes of conduct: online, offline and at all levels of the party, from branches to the parliamentary Labour party. These should be made clear to everyone upon joining, include reminders at the start of meetings and be up in every campaign office in the country.

Too many members – particularly new and young members – say they don’t know how to report incidents or what will happen if they do. This information should be given to all members, made easily available on the website and circulated to all local parties.

Too many people – including MPs and local party leaders – still say they wouldn’t know what to do if a local member told them they had been sexually harassed. All staff members and people in positions of responsibility should be given training, so they can support members and feel comfortable responding to issues.

Having a third party organisation or individual to deal with complaints of this nature would be a huge help too. Their contact details should be easy to find on the website. This organisation should, crucially, be independent of influence from elsewhere in the party. This would allow them to perform their role without political pressures or bias. We need a system that gives members confidence that they will be treated fairly, not one where members are worried about reporting incidents because the man in question holds power, has certain political allies or is a friend or colleague of the person you are supposed to complain to.

Giving this third party the resources and access they need to identify issues within our party and recommend further changes to the NEC would help to begin a continuous process of improving both our structures and culture.

Labour should champion a more open culture, where people feel able to report incidents and don't have to worry about ruining their career or facing political repercussions if they do so. Problems should not be brushed under the carpet. It takes bravery to admit your faults. But, until these problems are faced head-on, they will not go away.

Being the party of equality does not mean Labour is immune to misogyny and sexual harassment, but it does mean it should lead the way on tackling it.

Now is the time for Labour to practice what it preaches and prove it is serious about women’s equality.

Bex Bailey was on Labour’s national executive committee from 2014 to 2016.