Edit, 13.05: If you are interested in the phone hacking controversy, please take a look at James Doleman’s project to cover Andy Coulson’s perjury trial

Last Monday, Byline posted an interview with Graham Johnson, a former investigative reporter with News of The World and Sunday Mirror. In it, he compares tabloid reporters to members of Colombian death squads, and lifts the lid on a news media industry in which ’40-50 percent’ of stories were at least somewhat made up.

In short, it is an extraordinary interview, and one of the most interesting things we’ve read in a while. We are proud that we were able to bring it to Byline.

Not everyone was happy about it, though. Mr. Johnson had a few critical words in the interview for Rebekah Brooks, former NoTW and The Sun editor; lawyers representing her have contacted us and asked us to remove a part of the interview they apparently consider defamatory.

To be honest, we desperately wanted to stand by the interview, to the very last word. The fact is though that we are a tiny startup organisation. If News Corp is a big, grey, wrinkly news elephant, we are the fly buzzing around its left buttock – we may have the potential to irritate, but ultimately, only one of the two would have a chance of winning in a proper fight. And it wouldn’t be us.

So: with a heavy heart, we have removed a part of the quote in question. Now, we have the following quote instead:

Byline: How much did the people at News International know about phone hacking?                  
Graham Johnson: I don’t know about Rupert Murdoch, because I’ve never met him. He’s an elusive figure. But I do know Rebekah Brooks. I think she’s a bully and a bullshitter. 


The Byline Team

P.S. We will continue to keep an ‘Eye’ on Rupert Murdoch and his gang despite legal letters from folks acting on behalf of his surrogate daughter (nb. for the benefit of any lawyers who might be reading, we do not mean that she literally is his surrogate daughter).

The meticulous James Doleman – who covered the phone-hacking trials for The Drum and won a Scottish Press Award for his coverage of the Tommy Sheridan trial – will be crowdfunding his reporting on all aspects of the Andy Coulson perjury trial (please click here to support James’ coverage), live-tweeting key events and producing two comprehensive and exclusive reports for Byline every single day of the proceedings. We’ve no idea what the outcome will be, but we can at least promise that James will take you into the heart of the evidence about the phone hacking scandal that brought down the News of the World.