An IT reseller boss whose phone was hacked after he was caught up in the 7/7 London bombings has spoken out on the future of the press as part of the Hacked Off campaign.
Paul Dadge, managing director of Staffordshire-based reseller PC Paramedics, joined the campaign for a free and accountable press after reporters at the now-defunct News of the World (NOTW) hacked into his voicemail messages.
The hacks hoped to gain insight into what happened to him during the 2005 London bombings, during which Dadge – a former firefighter – helped victims and set up a triage area, where he was famously pictured helping masked-victim Davinia Turrell to safety.
Dadge settled for damages with the NOTW, and following the legal action, was put in touch with Hacked Off, which has campaigned against press intrusion since 2011.
Last week, politicians announced a cross-party royal charter (CPRC) following Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press standards and ethics. If imposed, press could be fined millions of pounds and be forced to make clearer retractions. It is still not clear if the CPRC will be underpinned by law.
Way to go
Dadge welcomed the CPRC, but warned there is still a way to go to ensure both the press and public are protected.
"We need to protect press from intrusion from meddling politicians and also protect members of the public whether it be legally, or from [press] intrusion in terms of privacy – taking pictures through the kitchen window, that kind of thing," he said.
"When [bad press practice] does happen, it needs to be dealt with properly. The majority of newspapers are not happy with the CPRC and do not want to join a new regulator. This brings us into a new phase of how we deal with that – how do we incentivise the press to join the regulator? That is the next hurdle."
Dadge added that a key issue he feels needs to be dealt with is where apologies or retractions appear in newspapers, explaining that he believes they should appear on a page with similar relevance to the position the initial mistake was made.
He added that notice should be taken of the role of bloggers under the new regulator too.
Dadge added that getting politicians on side has not always been easy.
He explained: "Before the Leveson report... we were reassured by [party] leaders that they were on our side, but that was not entirely true. The Leveson report concluded and within a week, newspaper editors were meeting David Cameron at number 10, bearing in mind, these were the guys who did wrong.
"Why would David Cameron be meeting them? Someone compared it with a referee conferring with the players to make sure they were happy with their decision."
Back in 2005, Dadge was setting up his firm PC Paramedics while also working at AOL in London, where he was during the London bombings. The blasts took place on three Tube trains across central London and on a bus at Tavistock Square, killing 52 members of the public and injuring 700 more.
The number of alleged phone hacking victims is thought to nearly top 6,000, including celebrities and members of the public alike.
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