If you're a sucker for conspiracy theories and media intrigue, the phone-hacking scandal has it all:
Dipping my toe into the daily news between intensely busy summer shifts in Blandmore, I find myself wondering really where this storm blew up from. At its heart is the bald fact that as far as I am aware not one newsworthy story emerged as a result of any one of the hundreds of phones that the News of the World allegedly hacked into. Unless you count the one about Prince William's sore knee.
Moreover, the word 'hacking' seems to be used in its loosest form here. We are not talking about a twenty stone nerd, holed up in a soundproof basement with a state-of-the-art CCTV and booby-trap security system, with seventeen monitors and USB ports for every gizmo in existence. We are not talking about a malodorous genius, plumbing the depths of technical wizardry and breaking age-old ciphers to unlock virtual fortresses. We are talking about phoning up someone's voicemail and typing '1234' in the hope they haven't changed their pin number.
Whilst doing this to the phone of a 14-year-old murdered schoolgirl is sickening, doing it to a celebrity, a royal, or a senior government or police figure is no more intrusive than any number of modern journalistic tactics used to try and get tabloid scoops. You also have to wonder, if you are a celebrity, a royal, or a senior government or police figure, why on earth you have not changed the pin number on your voicemail anyway? If an unscrupulous private investigator or reporter can gain access to potentially sensitive personal information about these figures, so could a terrorist.
Either way, those embroiled in the scandal are falling over each other to extricate themselves before media intrigue turns into criminal proceedings. Or, perhaps, before whatever message it is that the News of the World listened to on their voicemail, is made public.
It won't work. I have a feeling that Hacker-gate will not go away until some suitably famous scalps are nailed to prison walls. I wait, breath bated, for the book that will inevitably come out afterwards.
In the midst of it all, the tragic death of one of the men who started it all. Being a whistle-blower is not always a happy lot.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.