A regional newspaper editor is urging people to boycott the News of the World in the wake of allegations that it hacked into the voicemail messages of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
In a blog post, he said boycotting the paper would send a strong message that people will not stand for what he called “flagrant abuse of privacy in the name of journalism.”
His call comes as a cross-party group of MPs, peers and senior journalists launches a campaign for a public inquiry into phone hacking ahead of an emergency Commons debate on the scandal this afternoon.
Wrote Peter: “As an editor (albeit in the regional press) do I really believe that senior executives were blissfully unaware that this was going on at the News of the World? No, I don’t.
“If it came to light that journalists under my supervision were hacking into the phones of a missing teenager at the centre of a major police inquiry, would I expect to be sacked? Yes, I would.”
“What also saddens me is that it cements the public perception that journalists are a seedy, untrustworthy bunch who’d sell their grannies for a story.
“Urging people not to buy newspapers is not something I do lightly. But a public boycott of the News of the World would send a very strong message that people won’t stand for such flagrant abuse of privacy in the name of journalism.”
Peter went on to predict that Rebekah Brooks – News of the World editor at the time and now News International’s chief executive – will “find it hard to survive the fall-out” from the scandal.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on her to consider her position, although she insisted yesterday that she has no plans to leave the company.
Meanwhile the Press Complaints Commission issued a statement calling for its remit to be extended in the wake of what some are now seeing as British journalism’s equivalent of the MPs’ expenses scandal.
“It is right to use this terrible moment in British journalism as a catalyst to improve the reach and range of the PCC. We are committed to working with the industry, and politicians, to ensure that this can happen,” it said.
The press watchdog said the Milly Dowler allegations will “appal and concern everybody in equal measure,” echoing views expressed by senior politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron.
Later its chairman Baroness Buscombe appeared on the BBC’s Daily Polictics show and claimed News International had lied to them during the watchdog’s own investigations into phone-hacking.