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IN THE PRESS

An overview of the stories making the French and international newspaper headlines. From Monday to Friday live at 7.20 am and 9.20 am Paris time.

Latest update : 2010-09-06

British tabloids in hot water over illegal phone tapping allegations.

In today's international papers- British tabloid the News of the World is in hot water over phone tapping allegations, the Spanish press is sceptical about Basque terrorist group ETA's ceasefire plans and Belgium is closer than ever to splitting in two.

Kicking off with a major investigation carried out by the New York Times- they sent a team of reporters to London for the summer to dig up dirt on illegal phone tapping at the News of the World-

 

That’s a British tabloid owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch-

 

Now this scandal dates back to 2006 when it turned out the paper had hired private investigators to illegally listen in to Prince William and Harry’s phone calls.

 

The paper’s royal editor was jailed for six months for that crime and the then editor Andy Coulson was forced to resign- although he swore he had no idea the illegal listening was going on.

 

Now the NYT’s huge enquiry says the phone tapping didn’t just target the princes- but literally hundreds of well known figures including senior politicians, TV stars and premiership footballers.

 

The NYT says the practice was endemic at the paper and then editor Andy Coulson encouraged it- and he is now the director of communications for the British government.

 

That means this is very embarrassing for Prime Minister David Cameron who has publicly stood by Coulson- and the opposition Labour party is now calling for a parliamentary inquiry and for Coulson’s resignation.

 

The scandal gets worse- the Guardian says the Metropolitan Police may have covered up information and refused to let victims know their phones had been tapped- so as not to upset the powerful Murdoch press.

 

Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker points out that aside from the Guardian British papers haven’t covered this story very much although it’s blowing up into a scandal of epic proportions-

 

He says there’s an elephant in the room here, and it’s the widespread complicity of British newspapers with this sort of illegal information gathering.

 

Moving onto Spain and the ceasefire announced this weekend by Basque terrorist group ETA-

 

Newspaper El Pais is pretty sceptical about it- their editorial is headlined ‘A ceasefire drop by drop’.

 

The paper says ETA is divided between those who want a peaceful political process and those who use violence-

 

A previous ceasefire was announced in 2006 but broken nine months later by rogue elements who killed two people in a bomb attack on Madrid’s Barajas airport- the paper says there’s no guarantee something like that won’t happen again.

 

It says ETA hasn’t definitively abandoned violence which was the condition the government imposed on them before talks can start- and so El Pais says the government should not talk to ETA until they prove the ceasefire is serious.

 

To Belgium now- where Francophone socialists and right wing Flemish nationalists have been trying to form a coalition government since elections in June threatened to split the country in two.

 

Now the negotiations have collapsed- and Francophone politicians are blaming the intransigence of Flemish nationalist leader Bart de Wever, saying they just can’t work with him.

 

Francophone politicians are now threatening to split Belgium in two- and French language newspaper le Soir says that’s the right strategy to take.

 

The paper says it’s playing well to francophone voters who want their polticians to take back the initiative- and make it clear to the Flemish that they won’t accept an accord at any price.

By Elena CASAS

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