Mr Grant and Mr McMullan

PHONE hacking – and it’s becoming trickier to work out who’s zooming who. Paul McMullan, the ex-News of the Worlder was back on TV last night for a Newsnight appearance which almost amounted to live conscience-wrestling (revisit it while you can on iPlayer). He was honest enough to suggest that as a under-pressure Sunday tabloid reporter it would have been hard to turn away information that might lead to a scoop – he seemed to be saying that you wouldn’t commission something like hacking Milly Dowler’s phone but if it had already been done by a private detective looking to sell information and that information was thrown in your face then it would be hard to just turn away. He must have felt a day of public rage behind his eyeballs, as he clicked nervously at a ballpoint pen and said:

When you are investigating something you are really just trying to write the truth about an issue and you are looking for an exclusive. If that is available – I’ve been thinking to myself would I have considered taking information from that because you’ve got to say it wasn’t a staff reporter who did that, it was a PI who has done it and has then rung up and said well this is what’s happened. Do I put my fingers in my ears and say  please don’t tell me? No you don’t. You listen. You think that’s an interesting lead. I shouldn’t be trying to defend the indefensible because it’s not going to be a popular position.

It was McMullan who provided a lot of the insight for Dispatches programmes that bit away at News International. It was also McMullan who Hugh Grant secretly taped talking about hacking for his now infamous ‘the bugger bugged’ article for the New Statesman. And this is where you really can’t tell who did the zooming. Grant’s car broke down and he was helped by McMullan, a pub landlord in Dover since leaving the News of the World. McMullan asked for a photo for the pub only, according to Grant. Not likely, it appeared quicksmart in the Daily Mail. So McMullan was apparently double crossing Grant for a picture to sell, while Grant was double crossing McMullan with his secret microphone.When you look back to the initial Hugh-Grant-was-in-my-boozer story in the Mail, this is writ large on both men’s faces as they pose for a handshake…

Daily Mail online

1 Comment on Mr Grant and Mr McMullan

  1. Kim Janssen // July 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm //

    Absolutely my favorite photo of the year.

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