Media Top Stories

Church hits back at Murdoch’s “celebrity scumbags” tweet

By | Published on Wednesday 17 October 2012

Charlotte Church

Charlotte Church has taken to Twitter to hit back at comments made on the micro-blogging platform at the weekend by Rupert Murdoch about the Hacked Off campaign, the celebrity-backed lobby group that has been calling for reforms of press rules in the UK in the wake of the News Of The World phone hacking scandal, and other revelations made during the government-instigated Leveson Inquiry.

Hacked Off is busy putting pressure on the British government amidst fears ministers, still afraid of taking on the big newspaper groups despite the ‘we got too close’ rhetoric churned out during the peak of the NOTW scandal last year, will ignore any of Leveson’s tougher proposals for regulating the press. It’s also thought the government will support a new voluntary regulator for the newspaper industry to replace the Press Complaints Commission, which collapsed in the wake of Hack-gate, rather than creating an OfCom-style regulator with statutory powers.

To that end, a team of campaigners recently met with PM David Cameron to discuss their concerns, including Church, probably the highest profile music star to sue Murdoch’s News International for the illegal hacking of her voicemail by the firm’s journalists, and police officer and ‘Crimewatch’ contributor Jacqui Hames.

Murdoch, who had Church sing at his third wedding in 1999, and who was, in his own words during a guest spot at the Houses Of Parliament, “humbled” by the public outrage that followed the exposure of illegal phone hacking at one of his London papers, tweeted in response to that recent Hacked Off meeting: “Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad”.

Which is somewhat hypocritical, given the real scandal of the phone hacking debacle was the total lack of transparency within the Murdoch empire, ie the cover-up instigated by his British lieutenants to try and hide the scale of his firm’s illegal activity from the police, the public and the aforementioned PCC (whose credibility was fatally damaged by accepting News International’s corporate lies).

Anyway, whatever, Church wasn’t impressed and responded: “It would be decent to withdraw and apologise for calling me and Jacqui Hames ‘scumbags'”.

Murdoch bounced back by insisting he didn’t mean Church or Hames when he said “scumbags”. To be fair, I think it was probably Hugh Grant, perhaps the most famous celeb linked to Hacked Off, who was really being branded “scum” in that particular tweet, as a result of him being particularly critical of News International’s newspapers at the same time as mainly working for movie studios that compete with those owned by Murdoch.

Linking the whole debate to the scandal-du-jour, the News Corp chief later mused that if the Hacked Off group get their way and press regulation is stepped up, then it will mean that the “likes of Savile further protected” from public scrutiny. Though that sort of ignores the fact that the relatively unregulated newspapers of the 20th century ignored the Savile rumours for decades, and it was a regulated television news organisation which finally blew the lid off the story earlier this month.