By J L Samboma
The suspicious death of Sean Hoare, the former showbiz reporter for the News of the World, who blew the whistle about senior Murdoch executives being complicit in phone-hacking at the now-defunct paper, has understandably raised questions about whether he was “silenced” in a bid to pre-empt further revelations into the scandal, which threatens Murdoch’s media empire and Britain’s political establishment.
Hoare, a 47-year-old who was sacked by the NOTW by then-editor Andy Coulson because of drink and drugs “problems,” was found dead at his London residence by police last Monday, 18 July. Although police have yet to confirm the cause of death, they say the death is not “suspicious.” This has fuelled speculation the former Murdoch employee took his own life, or succumbed to his apparent addictions.
There has been understandable speculation that he was killed to prevent his co-operation with almost-inevitable criminal prosecutions of News International executives and, possibly, police officers. Although this could be dismissed as “conspiracy theory,” they are not entire baseless. The death has striking parallels with that of British scientist Dr David Kelly some years ago.
In 2003, Dr Kelly, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq immediately prior to the Gulf Slaughter, had debunked to journalists the Government’s “sexed up” dossier claiming Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction which could be launched against the West in forty-five minutes. This was the “evidence” – based on the so-called “dodgy dossier” prepared by Tony Blair’s spin doctor Alastair Campbell – which former US Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the UN to justify Western aggression against Iraq. The ensuing Gulf Slaughter resulted in the mass murder of over one million innocent people.
Kelly, who was writing a book to expose the murderous duplicity of the Western powers, was later found dead in fields near his family home in Southmoor under suspicious circumstances. Many of his colleagues and medical and forensic experts have disputed the official version that Dr Kelly’s death was as a result of suicide . On the contrary, these naysayers, backed by an array of compelling circumstantial evidence, point the finger at the country’s security services which, it is claimed, did it to protect their political masters.
Like Dr Kelly (right), Mr Hoare was a whistleblower with enough dirt on key members of the political establishment to bring their worlds crashing down around them. It will no doubt be dismissed as the ranting of “conspiracy theorists,” but speculation that Hoare could have been given “clandestine assistance” on his journey to the Great Beyond cannot be dismissed lightly.
To debunk what we may call the counter-conspiracy theories, we should look at what this public-spirited canary disclosed before his death. In 2007 – following the revelation that the NOTW had accessed the mobile communications of the royal family, and the subsequent trial and conviction of royal editor Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire – editor Andy Coulson resigned from the paper. He claimed the rot had been limited to just “a rogue reporter.”
Coulson was subsequently employed by Prime Minister David Cameron as his chief spin doctor. However, last September Hoare blew the whistle to the New York Times, saying phone-hacking had been “endemic” at the NOTW under Coulson; and, additionally, that his former editor had actively encouraged it. The revelation put Cameron – who had disregarded many warnings Coulson was toxic material – under increasing pressure. Coulson subsequently resigned from his Downing Street job last January.
Hacking went to the very top
Fears within the Murdoch Empire and beyond, that Hoare’s revelations could become a torrent of more damaging allegations, became reality two weeks ago when the former showbiz reporter told the New York Times that the NOTW paid police for technology to track people using signals from their mobile phones. And two days after his unexplained death, a BBC Panorama documentary film, recorded months before, showed Hoare saying that phone-hacking “went to the very top” at Murdoch’s News International Group.
Mr Hoare clearly had more tales to tell about phone-hacking criminality at News International – and police and possible complicity by politicians. The fallout from the scandal has already resulted in the resignations of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, and his deputy, John Yates. Did Hoare have information which could have located both men as active participants in the hacking and its cover-up?
As James Murdoch (left), heir-apparent to his father’s empire, faces charges he lied to parliament about when he became aware of phone-hacking, could the whistleblower have dropped him further into the murky soup? Further, was Hoare in possession of information which threatened even Rupert Murdoch himself, or David Cameron and other establishment figures?
“No third party involvement in the death”
All things considered, many powerful people had cast-iron motives to be “amenable” to news of the newspaperman’s demise. It is eminently conceivable that his testimony under oath in a court of law could have resulted in criminal convictions for those powerful players, including the resignation of the prime minister himself. Therefore, according to the theory, like Dr Kelly before him, he had to go. In addition to “problems with drink and drugs,” Hoare also lived as a recluse after separating from his wife. These and other factors would have made the alleged murder – and it’s cover-up as suicide – all that easier.
A neighbour has said that immediately preceding his death, Hoare had claimed that “the Government was coming to get him.” He also told friends he was “keeping his head down” as a result. Establishment organs such as the Daily Mail claim the man was paranoid and have swallowed the police autopsy report of “no third party involvement in the death.” Other mainstream media have followed suit. With police heavily implicated in the scandal, one should be careful believing them on such a crucial matter.
Official questions need to be asked about the circumstances surrounding the demise Sean Hoare. It is increasingly looking likely that this seasoned investigative journalist could have had more incriminating evidence against top Murdoch executives, the police and powerful political players.
As this is a season of political inquiries – the prime minister has instituted several into the Hackgate scandal – it is our belief that there needs to be one into the death of Mr Hoare in order to clear any doubts that he may have been silenced.
--The writer would like to point out he has no "problems" with drink and drugs and is not suicidal.