Is this News International’s new phone hacking scandal strategy? Everyone else was doing it too!

It’s beginning to look like it isn’t it? News International ultimate owner Rupert Murdoch spent most of last week in the UK and, all of a sudden, the company has supplied the Met Police with enough evidence for them to re-open their inquiries and admit that large numbers of people were targeted.

The rozzers have also, belatedly, had a good look at their own evidence (which they’ve had for years) which indicates the same although this slipped their mind until recently.

And who do we have to thank for this? Well the Guardian and the New York Times obviously, which have investigated the scandal in defiance of all the denials, but also former deputy prime minister John Prescott whose insistence that his phone was hacked (despite being told by the Met that it hadn’t) has done much to increase the pressure on News, the Met and hapless former News of the World editor Andy Coulson (pictured) who seems to have been hung out to dry by both his former employers, Murdoch and PM David Cameron.

So where does News’ change of strategy come in?

Well all of a sudden we’ve gone from the insistence that such activities were the preserve of one rogue journalist (News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman) to Prescott and others saying that all of Fleet Street was at it.

Which is rather better for News international than the perception that its reporters and executives alone were the culprits.

So might News or its ‘friends’ have played a role in disseminating this new (and widely accepted, it would appear) version of events?

It may or not be a coincidence that News International has just hired a new director of communications in the UK, Simon Greenberg who, before his stints at Chelsea FC and the Football Association, was sports editor of the London Evening Standard.

As a seasoned hack Greenberg would have been well aware of common Fleet Street gossip about phone hacking and maybe more than that. His first piece of advice to Murdoch and his hapless lieutenants Rebekah Brooks and son James might have been to stop playing King Canute by trying to turn back the tide and, instead, spread the blame around a bit.

After all the Crown Prosecution Service and new Met investigator deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers can hardly send all the Fourth Estate to jail.

Although the notion undeniably has its appeal.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.