Hack Attack | Nick Davies

Summary of: Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with the World’s Most Powerful Man
By: Nick Davies


Prepare to delve into the shadowy world of phone hacking and the media empire that spawned it in the summary of Nick Davies’ ‘Hack Attack’. Unravel the story of illegal voicemail interception and its impact on the British Royal Family, while exploring the role of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and tabloid newspaper News of the World. This gripping expose will reveal the influence and reach of international media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the intricate relationship between media giants and political power.

Royal Hacking Exposé

The British phone-hacking scandal centered around illegal access to personal voicemails, often targeting high-profile figures like the Royal Family. Malicious methods, such as exploiting weak telecommunication securities and impersonating phone owners, were employed to gain access to private information. Glenn Mulcaire, a skilled blagger, was enlisted by tabloid newspapers like News of the World to bring his unique abilities to their attention-grabbing stories.

The phone-hacking scandal in Britain made headlines for targeting the Royal Family, striking its roots in the illegal act of tapping into someone’s voicemails without their consent. This violation of privacy could be achieved by simply cracking an untouched factory PIN or resorting to cunning tactics, such as deceiving phone companies to reset a password.

One notorious individual in the phone-hacking world was Glenn Mulcaire, blessed with a gift of deception that allowed him to easily obtain sensitive details from his targets. Initially a private investigator, Mulcaire’s astonishing talent caught the attention of tabloid editors, particularly those at News of the World. Recognizing the potential value of his abilities, they compensated him handsomely with an annual £94,000 retainer by 2001.

However, it wouldn’t be until 2005 that Mulcaire would face his most high-profile challenge yet: infiltrating the phones of the British Royal Family.

Unraveling the Royal Scandal

Mulcaire, commissioned by Clive Goodman and Andy Coulson from the News of the World (NoW), played a vital role in intercepting voicemails, which led to attention-grabbing stories about the British Royal Household. Despite eventual arrests, the full extent of NoW’s involvement remained concealed, hinting at the influential sway of media mogul, Rupert Murdoch.

Journalist Clive Goodman of the News of the World, overseen by editor-in-chief Andy Coulson, sought the expertise of Mulcaire to tap into the private lives of the British Royal Household. Hired on October 25, 2005, Mulcaire received £500 weekly to intercept voicemails, generating sensational stories responsible for the newspaper’s soaring sales.

However, NoW’s voracious appetite for scandal soon backfired. A story detailing Prince William’s inebriation post his brother’s military school graduation ceremony uncannily mirrored a voicemail complaint filed by General Andrew Ritchie. This front-page splash served to alert military officials of potential security breaches.

Undeterred, Mulcaire continued working for various NoW reporters with both Coulson and his assistant, Greg Miskiw, fully informed. The downfall came on August 8, 2006, when Mulcaire and Goodman were arrested on suspicion of intercepting voicemails.

In an attempt to shift culpability, NoW portrayed the pair as rogue players in the voicemail interception scheme. A subsequent police investigation, named Operation Caryatid, uncovered evidence suggesting more widespread hacking during a raid on Mulcaire’s home. Nonetheless, the investigation concluded that only Goodman and Mulcaire were guilty, thus exonerating the rest of NoW’s staff.

This raises the question: why didn’t the police force dig deeper into the evidence staring them in the face, which could have implicated more people? The answer lies in the shadow of an influential figure – Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon exerting unrivaled power in this far-reaching scandal.

Murdoch: The Media Mogul

Rupert Murdoch’s empire, News Corporation, is an international media giant with over 800 subsidiaries and assets worth around $60 billion. Throughout the years, Murdoch has expanded his reach, owning numerous newspapers including the Sun, the Times, the News of the World, and the Sunday Times, which together served 37% of British newspaper readers. In Australia, he supplies 60% of daily papers and 70% of Sunday papers. News Corp’s holdings extend beyond print media, with ownership of global publisher HarperCollins, American newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, and stakes in television, such as 39.1% of British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) and American film studio Twentieth Century Fox. Murdoch’s colossal influence across various media outlets not only made him an international powerhouse but also allowed him to use his platforms as a mouthpiece for his political convictions. The media mogul’s control over the industry is unmistakable, and his impact on shaping public opinion undeniably significant.

Murdoch’s Political Puppetry

Political influence has always been a key asset to media mogul Rupert Murdoch, thanks to the vast network of his international media conglomerate. This influence was perfectly exemplified in Murdoch’s relationship with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Sharing the same political ideology, Thatcher enjoyed an effortless partnership with Murdoch, and as a result, Murdoch’s News of the World and Sun steadfastly supported her prime ministerial campaign. In return, Thatcher helped Murdoch bypass government regulations to expand his media empire. This pattern continued with Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had a more turbulent relationship with Murdoch, but arguably still succumbed to his influence when making crucial decisions such as invading Iraq.

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