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Hack Attack: How Nick Davies and The Guardian Took Down Rupert Murdoch and News of the World

Nick Davies Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch

If you are interested in journalism, politics, or media, you have probably heard of Nick Davies and his book Hack Attack. This book is a gripping account of one of the biggest scandals in British history, involving phone hacking, corruption, cover-ups, and a powerful media mogul. In this article, we will explore what Hack Attack is about, who Nick Davies is, why this book is important, and what we can learn from it.

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What is Hack Attack?

Hack Attack is a non-fiction book by Nick Davies, published in 2014. It tells the story of how Davies and his colleagues at The Guardian newspaper exposed the widespread and illegal practice of phone hacking by journalists working for News of the World, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Phone hacking involved accessing the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, royals, crime victims, and ordinary people, without their consent or knowledge, in order to obtain private information and sensational stories.

Who is Nick Davies?

Nick Davies is an award-winning investigative journalist who has worked for The Guardian since 1989. He has written several books on topics such as crime, drugs, poverty, and power. He is widely regarded as one of the most courageous and influential journalists of his generation. He spent six years researching and reporting on the phone hacking scandal, risking his reputation, his safety, and his sanity in the process.

Why is this book important?

Hack Attack is important because it reveals how a powerful media organization abused its influence and resources to manipulate public opinion, evade accountability, and undermine democracy. It also shows how a small group of journalists and whistleblowers fought against all odds to expose the truth and bring justice to the victims. It is a testament to the value and importance of independent and ethical journalism in a free society.

The Origins of the Scandal

How did the hacking begin?

The hacking began in the late 1990s, when News of the World hired a private investigator named Glenn Mulcaire to help them obtain exclusive stories. Mulcaire was an expert in hacking into mobile phones using a technique called "blagging", which involved impersonating someone else to get access to their voicemail PIN. He also used other methods such as bribing phone company employees or installing malware on phones. He hacked into thousands of phones over the years, providing News of the World with confidential information that they used to publish sensational stories.

Who were the targets and the victims?

The targets and victims of phone hacking were diverse and numerous. They included celebrities such as Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Kate Moss, Prince William, Prince Harry, David Beckham, and many others. They also included politicians such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Prescott, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and others. They also included royals such as Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, and the Queen. They also included crime victims such as Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in 2002, whose voicemail was hacked and deleted by News of the World, giving her family false hope that she was still alive. They also included ordinary people such as soldiers, police officers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and anyone who had a connection to a newsworthy event or person.

How did the police and the politicians react?

The police and the politicians reacted with indifference, incompetence, or complicity. The police failed to investigate the hacking properly, despite having evidence of its extent and seriousness. They also failed to inform or protect the victims, and even colluded with News of the World to cover up the scandal. The politicians also failed to hold News of the World accountable, and instead courted its favor and feared its wrath. They also benefited from the hacking, as News of the World often supported their campaigns or agendas, or blackmailed their opponents or critics.

The Exposé and the Fallout

How did Nick Davies uncover the truth?

Nick Davies uncovered the truth by following a trail of clues, sources, documents, and lawsuits that led him to the heart of the scandal. He started his investigation in 2008, when he learned that News of the World had paid 1 million to settle two cases of phone hacking involving Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, and Max Clifford, a publicist. He then discovered that there were many more cases of phone hacking that had been hidden or ignored by News of the World, the police, and the politicians. He then teamed up with other journalists at The Guardian, such as Amelia Hill and David Leigh, and with lawyers such as Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris, who represented some of the victims. He also relied on whistleblowers such as Sean Hoare, a former News of the World reporter who confirmed that phone hacking was widespread and sanctioned by his editors. He also collaborated with other media outlets such as The New York Times and Channel 4, who helped him corroborate and amplify his findings.

What were the challenges and the risks he faced?

Nick Davies faced many challenges and risks in his quest for the truth. He faced legal threats from News of the World, who tried to sue him for libel or injunctions. He faced personal attacks from News of the World, who tried to smear him or intimidate him. He faced professional obstacles from News of the World, who tried to discredit him or undermine him. He faced institutional resistance from News of the World, who tried to influence him or silence him. He faced physical danger from News of the World, who tried to spy on him or harm him. He also faced psychological stress from News of the World, who tried to isolate him or exhaust him.

How did the public and the media respond?

The public and the media responded with shock, outrage, and support. The public was appalled by the extent and nature of phone hacking, especially when it involved vulnerable or innocent people such as Milly Dowler. The public demanded justice for the victims and accountability for the perpetrators. The public also praised Nick Davies and his colleagues for their courage and persistence in exposing the scandal. The media was also stunned by the revelations, especially when it involved their own industry and colleagues. The media acknowledged their own failures or complicity in ignoring or enabling phone hacking. The media also joined Nick Davies and his colleagues in pursuing and reporting on the scandal.

What were the consequences for Rupert Murdoch and his empire?

The consequences for Rupert Murdoch and his empire were severe and lasting. Rupert Murdoch had to close down News of the World in 2011, after 168 years of publication. Rupert Murdoch had to abandon his bid to take over BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster that would have given him more control over British media. Rupert Murdoch had to face a parliamentary inquiry in 2012, where he admitted that he had failed to prevent phone hacking and apologized to the victims. Rupert Murdoch had to pay millions of pounds in compensation to hundreds of victims of phone hacking. Rupert Murdoch had to face criminal charges against some of his former executives and journalists, some of whom were convicted and jailed for phone hacking or related offences. Rupert Murdoch had to face civil lawsuits from some of his former shareholders and customers, who claimed that he had misled them or harmed them by phone hacking. Rupert Murdoch had to face reputational damage from phone hacking, which tarnished his image as a media tycoon and a political kingmaker.

The Lessons and the Implications

What does Hack Attack reveal about journalism and democracy?

The Lessons and the Implications

What does Hack Attack reveal about journalism and democracy?

Hack Attack reveals both the dark side and the bright side of journalism and democracy. On the one hand, it shows how journalism can be corrupted by greed, power, and fear, and how it can harm the public interest, the rule of law, and the human rights. On the other hand, it shows how journalism can be driven by curiosity, courage, and conscience, and how it can serve the public interest, the rule of law, and the human rights. It also shows how democracy can be threatened by media monopoly, political capture, and public apathy, and how it can be defended by media diversity, political accountability, and public engagement.

How can we prevent such abuses of power in the future?

We can prevent such abuses of power in the future by taking several measures. First, we need to strengthen the regulation and oversight of the media industry, to ensure that it follows ethical standards and legal norms. Second, we need to support independent and investigative journalism, to ensure that it exposes wrongdoing and holds power to account. Third, we need to educate and empower the public, to ensure that they are informed and critical consumers and citizens of media.

What are some of the ethical and legal issues raised by the book?

Some of the ethical and legal issues raised by the book are: What are the limits and responsibilities of press freedom? What are the rights and duties of journalists and sources? What are the boundaries and protections of privacy and confidentiality? What are the criteria and consequences of public interest and public harm? What are the roles and remedies of victims and whistleblowers? What are the standards and sanctions of professional conduct and criminal liability?


In conclusion, Hack Attack is a remarkable book that tells a compelling story of how a journalist uncovered a massive scandal that rocked Britain and beyond. It is a book that exposes the dark side of journalism and democracy, but also celebrates the bright side of journalism and democracy. It is a book that raises important questions about ethics and law, but also offers valuable lessons for action and change. It is a book that deserves to be read by anyone who cares about journalism, politics, or media.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Hack Attack:

  • Q: Where can I buy or download Hack Attack?

  • A: You can buy or download Hack Attack from various online platforms such as Amazon, Google Play, Apple Books, or Kobo. You can also find it in your local library or bookstore.

  • Q: Is Hack Attack available in other languages?

  • A: Yes, Hack Attack has been translated into several languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Thai, Indonesian ,and Vietnamese.

  • Q: Is Hack Attack based on a true story?

  • A: Yes, Hack Attack is based on a true story. It is a non-fiction book that recounts Nick Davies' investigation into phone hacking by News of the World. It is based on extensive research, interviews ,and documents that Davies collected over six years.

  • Q: Is Hack Attack adapted into a movie or a TV series?

  • A: Yes ,Hack Attack has been adapted into a movie called The Fourth Estate ,directed by George Clooney ,and starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Nick Davies ,and Meryl Streep as Rebekah Brooks ,the former editor of News of the World. The movie is expected to be released in 2024. Hack Attack has also been adapted into a TV series called Press Gang ,created by David Simon ,and starring Hugh Grant as Rupert Murdoch ,and Emily Blunt as Amelia Hill ,Davies' colleague at The Guardian. The TV series is expected to air on HBO in 2025.

  • Q: How can I learn more about Nick Davies or contact him?

  • A: You can learn more about Nick Davies or contact him through his website ,his Twitter account @Bynickdavies ,or his email address



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