NoW royal editor sacked - fair or not?

  Kate B 10:54 07 Mar 2007

click here News of the World has rather unceremoniously ditched Clive Goodman, its royal editor, who was sent down for four months for hacking into various royal people's mobile phone voicemails.

At the time the editor said he took full responsibility - as he should. He then quit. So is it fair that Goodman, who was I believe on staff, be dumped like this given that he was working for the paper when he committed the crimes for which he was jailed?

I guess you could argue that the decision to do something illegal was his, though a tabloid newspaper is incredibly competitive and puts enormous pressure on people to deliver stories - I expect he felt very much under the cosh and thought it was a risk worth taking.

  jackhass 11:25 07 Mar 2007

One has to register with the Guardian site.No thanks.

I think my local mugger was also under great pressure to feed his family!!

Journalists hmmm.

  RickyC :-) 11:28 07 Mar 2007

Kate - the lack of responses to your post might be due to users needing to register for in order to access the link you posted.

Personally - yes, I think it is fair that Goodman has been sacked. Despite Coulson having 'carried the can' and resigned following the phone hack, Goodman was responsible for his own actions. How much pressure he was under is irrelevant - what he did was illegal.

If you were under pressure to write a story, did something unlawful in order to get the story written (or to get the editor to run with the story), and it was subsequently discovered that your actions had been illegal, wouldn't you expect to be sacked?

Whether they ought to have waited until he had been released from prison before dismissing him is another question.


  MichelleC 11:30 07 Mar 2007

I seem to recall a certain story a few years ago about another hack tapping into Princess Di's mobile. That's when the big story first broke.

Hack's shouldn't be allowed to break the law.

There is the small matter of invasion of privacy to take into account. I think the privacy laws were changed a while back because journalists were crossing too many lines. I know celebs et al attract a certain newsworthy status, but if their privacy is intruded upon to any great degree their lives can be ruined.

The NOW are well known to use all sorts of cunning and devious ploys to get a story. Their journalists pretend to be a celeb's friend with hidden tapes and cameras and then use entrapment to 'nab' them. The following writeup is edited to make the target look even worse than they actually were.

You'll not get any sympathy from me on this one.

  Kate B 11:39 07 Mar 2007

Sorry - didn't realise you had to register for the Guardian site - I've been registered since the dawn of time and am logged in automatically. It just requires an email address to do so.

Richard, have you ever done any shifts on a tabloid? It's absolutely ferocious and I can well understand how Goodman ended up doing that. In his shoes, especially on a tabloid, I'd expect the paper to stand by me. Journalists have sailed close to the wind many times to get stories - including being on the receiving end of information that breaks the official secrets act which I suspect (though I don't know) is probably illegal.

I agree, nobody should be allowed to break the law - but I think given that the paper benefited from and (almost certainly, though I could be wrong) was aware of what he was doing - it should stand by him.

  johndrew 11:52 07 Mar 2007

Anyone who is found to have committed an act which is considered `Gross Misconduct` by their employer is liable to instant dismissal. To my understanding of the way the world of Journalists works (rather than, for example, manufacturing industry) such an act as breaching the Telecommunications legislation, which is a criminal offence, would come under the heading of Gross Misconduct.

Whether his manager(s) knew of this and tacitly approved it is another matter.

Most businesses are highly competitive in their own areas of operation whether it be manufacturing, fashion or pharmaceuticals and a breach in the `rules of engagement` can be considered as gross misconduct with no breach of the criminal law. If a breach of the criminal law does occur it simply compounds the `felony` in the eyes of the employer and makes it easier to dismiss the miscreant.

Ignorance of the law has never been a real defence and in this case the person concerned knew exactly what he was doing. He may not be the only guilty party but he is guilty and should suffer the consequences.

  Confab 11:54 07 Mar 2007

I think question is, did the News of the World know that he was acting illegally? If it did then it should stand by him, if not then he should be dismissed.

In most organisations if you have done something seriously illegal then you face dismissal. Journalist should not be above the law. I’m sure Mr Goodman knew exactly what he was doing, he's no dimwit. Sometimes you have to take the biggest risks for the biggest rewards. He risked his career and unfortunately for him, lost it.


  namtas 12:02 07 Mar 2007

I do not think that any of us can answer that question in a meaningful way as we do not know what his terms of reference or the situation appertaining as the royal editor, maybe he just got complacent, as can happen and it became the norm mode of operation. Rest assured the NOTW will have had their Lawyers pour over his employment contract well before any decision was taken. One thing for sure, it will serve as a tilt to the rudder for all main stream journalists who have full editorial freedom.

  spuds 12:14 07 Mar 2007

Personally I could not care a jot about some media editor or journalist getting the sack. More so if they are seen to have committed an illegal act in invading someones privacy for their own gain or satisfaction, in the pretext that it was all done in the name of the readership.

The News of the World have always been noted as the provider of 'juicy' stories, and some of their journalists involvements of obtaining an 'exclusive' story are well known.

  Kate B 12:17 07 Mar 2007

Confab, I bet the NoW knew what he was up to. I'd be astonished if they didn't, having seen the operations of a tabloid features desk at close quarters (though not the NoW). If that is the case, I think they should stand by him.

But of course the general principle is right - if you've broken the law, it's game over.

  The Brigadier 12:30 07 Mar 2007

Great link, pity you have to register to find this great bit of journalism from the Guardian.

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