A Liverpool MP has condemned News International’s alleged plans for a Sunday edition of The Sun, the newspaper that lied to the public over Liverpool fans’ behaviour during the Hillsborough disaster.
At the peak of the nationwide outrage over the phone hacking scandal on Thursday, it was announced that the News of the World would publish its last edition on Sunday. Two domain names, sunonsunday.co.uk and sunonsunday.com, were said to have been purchased by an unknown buyer two days earlier, and News International has not denied reports that it will launch a Sun title to replace the News of the World.
During the emergency phone hacking debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Walton MP Steve Rotheram recalled The Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, where 96 Liverpool FC fans died, as the issue over Rupert Murdoch's bid to take 100 per cent control of BSkyB was also raised.
Mr Rotheram, who swapped his ticket before the Leppings Lane crush at Hillsborough, told JMU Journalism: “This is no longer a question of plurality – it’s about morality – and in my opinion Murdoch is not a fit and proper to be trusted with a wholly-owned BSkyB."
A Sunday edition of The Sun has not been officially
confirmed but Mr Rotheram feels News International are
shrewdly rebranding the News of the World and the
“The people of Liverpool have known for years the kind of
rubbish produced by representatives of Murdoch’s
papers,” he said. “Not only in Liverpool but throughout the
country, this will be seen as cocking a snoop at those who
feel that Murdoch’s titles should be punished for their
It took 15 years for an official apology to be published
about The Sun's Hillsborough stories and Merseyside
has upheld a boycott of the newspaper ever since the lies
which they infamously claimed to be 'The Truth'.
Mr Rotheram said: “This is a tipping point in relations
between MPs and the media. Never again should MPs
be fearful of standing up to excesses by newspaper
owners like Murdoch.”
He expects the reaction in Liverpool to be “absolute outrage and a boycott of the ‘new’ paper” if it surfaces. Already, both Liverpool and Everton FC fans have backed a campaign on Facebook by reposting this message: “The people of Liverpool have been crying out for the boycott of The Sun newspaper and the News of the World for 22 years. Justice for the 96.”
The closure of the NOTW came after advertising was pulled by major companies like Ford, Sainsbury’s and Npower. The 168 year-old newspaper and its parent company, News Corp, are reeling from an assault of new revelations about payments to police officers, and the phone hacking of the families of dead soldiers, July 7/7 victims and murdered children, Milly Dowler, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
Former Director of Communications at 10 Downing Street, Andy Coulson, was arrested on Friday morning in connection with allegations made about his tenure as NOTW Editor. His editorial predecessor, Rebekah Brooks, faced fury from sacked NOTW staff when the shock announcement to close the paper was made, but kept her job as News International's Chief Executive.
Professor Chris Frost, the Head of Journalism at JMU, has written one of the definitive books on the subject: Journalism Ethics and Regulation. He said: “The phone hacking scandal has been the running sore of British journalism for some years now, so it’s good that we will finally be able to find out what really happened and deal with it.
"It’s saddening that it’s taken such awful revelations to finally alert the public to this cancer, but we need to remember that this sort of intrusion had become commonplace and needed to be stopped. A public inquiry must be held as soon as possible to investigate not only journalism standards in the UK, but also the News of the World’s practices, the police investigations and the ineffectiveness of the Press Complaints Commission.“
EXCLUSIVE by Chris Bradley, Website Editor
More JMU Journalism stories
Liverpool Walton MP, Steve Rotheram; ex-News of the World Editors, Rebekah Brooks & Andy Coulson
YouTube: James Murdoch, son of Rupert, explains the decision to close the NOTW