Much has been said about News International and the hacking that took place. Murdoch is currently facing intense scrutiny. The government is locked in a spin and the world is watching England.
The forgotten past its Big Brother state appears invisible now. Its obsession with databases, councils snooping on its residents and general data collection was part of Britain. When ordinary citizens were effectively frisked and monitored, nothing was said in the media. Now, when hacking involves extra-ordinary people, the feeling of injustice is more heartfelt. In our country, the rights of the famous appear to be far more important than the ordinary man on the street.
Murdoch is simply a product of the big brother state developed by the past governments. He is currently being held to account for being much like everyone else in power during that era.
Power to the People wrote a great summary of the level of spying that has occurred in ordinary citizens. The writer frustrated with the inertia in the UK wrote this,
The sheep show no sign of being able to think as individuals, they think if something is published in the press, then it must be true, if something is said by a politician, then it must be accurate, that if someone is wearing a suit...available for under a £100 at Matalan, then they must know better. What a sad, sad state of affairs
The above is probably one of the reasons why Britain is now unaccountable. The level of unaccountability has crept into society slowly. Individuals now believe that there is no point in standing up to counted, so they don't. If injustice is occurring, it is someone else's problem and not theirs. This is potentially why people in power believe they can get away with anything. The line between integrity and corruption is now blurred within all authorities in the United Kingdom. For those who seek a remedy -- what is the solution?
Parliament appears to have no respect for ordinary citizens. Anyone who has approached Parliament or their MPs will understand how difficult it is to be respected as a tax payer. For the ordinary member of the public, Parliament often provides lip service to their concerns. They are often made to feel unwelcome and irrelevant. This dismissive attitude is endemic throughout Parliament.
It is ironic that with the tax payer's funds, Parliaments and its inhabitants largely enjoy themselves and do little in the way of improving the country. The expenses scandal demonstrates how unaccountable the place has become. Anyone watching the debates in Parliament will note that is more like a public school common room than a place where actual governing takes place.
As an ordinary citizen educated by this country, I have never had any assistance from Parliament at all. My MP tries to understand me but his background in Cambridge compared to mine as a whistleblower means we clash. Nevertheless, after years of skirmishes with him, I decided to find common ground and that is the way we exist these days. He becomes a person who passes my concerns on and hopefully a gem arrives through the post. He can never bring himself to be wholly supportive of me. It is true that I have a large collection of expensive parliament paper but nothing constructive at all in relation to serious issues I raised about patient safety. People therefore die needlessly and there is effectively a attitude of "so what."
So given the country is essentially a lawless state -- with no accountability via Parliament, no accountability through the courts, no accountability publicly, I was not surprised when I found out that my regulatory body conducted a "Discreet Inquiry" in 2003. I just never thought the big brother state would affect me, yet it did. The Regulatory body called it a "Discreet Inquiry." I called it, reds under my bed. I discovered there were more individuals under my bed than I had envisaged. The beauty of making Data Protection Act access requests is that you find out all kinds of things after papers accidentally drop from the organisations by mistake.
The Sunday Mercury was the only media outlet to quote what happened
"Another memo, from 'The Screener', read: '...I may be able to make discreet confidential enquiries [about Dr Pal] which I will do and then discuss
I was an ordinary citizen of this country but felt ultimately violated. I was never told what this "discreet inquiry" consisted of. The regulatory body's Inspector Clouseau had done a slipshod job.
The questions I subsequently asked fell on deaf ears and I hit all kinds of stonewalls. I approached well dressed lawyers who squinted at my clothes and questioned my bank balance. "Dr Pal, you can't afford my rates at £250 plus VAT" they huffed. As one libel firm pointed out, if I wasn't Catherine Zeta Jones, I just had to put up and shut up. I wasn't about to give up - so I read the law books and dropped the court forms in court then prayed - maybe there would be a God for once.
I had no rights at all - no right to privacy, no right to a remedy etc. Quietly in a court room in the UK away from the media glare -- HHJ Charles Harris issued a withering attack on the regulatory body and referred to them as a totalitarian regime. This was a fragment of justice and recognition for the violation caused to me.
So when people talk about the injustice of hacking, it should be noted that as ordinary citizens in England, we have all been hacked in one way or another for many years. It is simply that most of us are unaware of the extent and the rest of us have small voice in a large country.
Follow Rita Pal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dr_rita39