The day before Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch testified before the British Parliament about their part in a widespread phone hacking scandal, Sean Hoare was found dead.
It’s been eerily quiet of late when it comes to discussion of the suspicious connection between those two events, the Murdoch scandal and the death of one of their former employees.
We don’t know if there is a clear-cut link, of course. Sean Hoare was a former reporter for two Murdoch-owned tabloid newpapers, the News of the World and The Sun, and among the first to expose the phone hacking scandal.
Hoare told the New York Times in 2010 that his editor at both papers, Andy Coulson, who went on to become communications director for British Prime Minister David Cameron, knew of the widespread hacking and encouraged it. Hoare told The BBC that Coulson was “well aware” of the hacking and “to deny it is a lie.” Coulson subsequently had to leave his job in February due to allegations of his role in the scandal, a great embarrassment to Prime Minister Cameron, and was arrested earlier this month by London police on July 8 “in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking”.
Sean Hoare, 47, was found dead at his Hertfordshire home July 18, 2011. Police said “The death is currently being treated as unexplained but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” A post mortem examination revealed that there was “no third party involvement in the death,” which seems an odd conclusion considering that it would be several weeks before authorities would have full toxicology results.
The week before his death Hoare told the New York Times how journalists at the News of the World used “pinging,” a police technology used to locate people using cell phone signals. According to Hoare, police were paid $500 by the newspaper each time they provided “pinging” information.
On July 17, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, the United Kingdom’s highest ranking police official, was forced to step down for his connections with the hacking scandal. His assistant resigned the following day for the same reason.
Hoare had a history of drug and alcohol problems, which was the cause of his ouster from the News of the World by his former close friend and editor Andy Coulson. A few days before his death, Hoare explained to the Guardian why he chose to speak up. “I want to right a wrong, lift the lid on it, the whole culture. I know, we all know, that the hacking and other stuff is endemic. Because there is so much intimidation. In the newsroom, you have people being fired, breaking down in tears, hitting the bottle.” He hoped his disclosures would help lead to the cleaning up of journalism in general. “There’s more to come,” he told the Guardian. “This is not going to go away.”
Sean Hoare did not live long enough to find out if his whistle-blowing helped make his profession better, and it can only be speculated that he died with information that could have made a difference in exposing the full depth and breadth of the scandal.
So there you have it: The Murdoch media empire, the British government, the London Metropolitan Police, all caught up in this scandal and all having reasons to want Sean Hoares out of the way, whether for retribution and/or because of what he knew.
So what could be suspicious about his death? I would think there would be more people trying to find out.
But it’s very quiet over there. Just like talk of Murdoch’s activities in this country. Very quiet.