In the past couple of days former high profile News International employees Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks have pleaded not guilty to charges related to phone hacking. Several other former News of the World journalists who appeared at Southwark Crown Court have also pleaded not guilty. Mr Coulson, was editor of the paper from 2003 to 2007 and then became the Conservative Party's director of communications working for David Cameron in government after the 2010 election, before he resigned in January 2011. Mrs Brooks was the editor of both the News Of The World and The Sun before becoming the News International chief executive in 2009 and resigning in 2011. The trial, set to start in September, promises to be the Mother of all spectacles. The recent history of the phone hacking scandal goes back to 2006 when Clive Goodman, Royal Editor for Rupert Murdochs (he pops up a lot doesn't he?) News Of The World, and the private investigator Greg Mulcaire were arrested for hacking into the voicemail of one of Prince William's aides. Over the next five years, despite evidence of widespread voicemail interception, Murdoch and his coterie of executives, including his son James, repeatedly insisted the incidents were restricted to a handful of rogue employees who had been punished accordingly. Anyone who suggested otherwise was accused of being motivated by darkly ulterior motives. The official line from News International changed in July 2011 when it finally came to light that the News of the World had hacked into the telephone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler and deleted voice messages from her inbox, hindering the police investigation and giving the parents the false hope that she was still alive. This obscenity sparked a national outrage and it was further revealed that the newspaper, which campaigned for the military covenant and was so keen to bang the military drum and proclaim how much they love our troops, had hacked the phones of dead British servicemen and their families. The paper which had campaigned so vociferously for "Sarah's Law" had hacked the phone of Sarah Payne's Mother and the parents of the Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman murdered by the paedophile Ian Huntley. The News Of The World even hacked the phones of the families and victims of the 7/7 bombings in London. The hypocrisy was breathtaking. Here was a newspaper which traded on its quest for truth engaged so wantonly in criminal acts. As advertisers deserted the publication in droves News Of The World was closed and replaced by The Sun on Sunday. The role of the media should be to provide access to information. This is essential to the health of a democracy for two reasons. Firstly, it ensures that we as citizens (or subjects in our case) are aware of the world around us, our place in it and can make responsible and informed decisions. Secondly, information acts as a check and balance of our elected representatives allowing us to hold them to account. An adversarial relationship between media and government is a crucial element of a democracy and keeps everyone honest. Phone hacking exposes the British model of democracy as the antithesis of this. Instead the main function of the British press would appear to be to distract ordinary people from the bigger political and social issues through the perpetual drip, drip, drip of tittle tattle, gossip, rumour, scandal and celebrity. This is a means of distracting our attention from issues which actually affect us, such as climate change or the gap between rich and poor, which is wider now than when Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist. This relentless distraction and distortion - diverting our concentration towards matters of insignificance - is Number 1 with a bullet in Noam Chomsky's Top 10 Media Manipulation Strategies and it has infected all the papers right across the spectrum. This can be attributed to the "corporatisation" of the media and has resulted in the marketing and shaping of news to cater specifically to the tastes of advertisers and those in power. As profit is the primary aim of any corporation, this leads to a lowest common denominator agenda at the expense of keeping us informed. Once an agenda is set all of the newspapers follow in lock-step to remain competitive in a free market. This is perfectly illustrated in the case of Iraq's non-existent WMDs. Right across the board every single newspaper unquestioningly trotted out the prevailing orthodoxy and parroted Bush and Blair's utterances without applying any critical thinking. The result is over a million dead and Fallujah - bombarded with depleted uranium munitions - now has radiations levels and incidents of birth defects higher than those experienced in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In the wake of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, the unconscionably grotesque way in which Rupert Murdochs business had become entwined with, and wedded to, both the political system and the police establishment - essentially undermining our democracy - was laid bare. Policemen were paid off and politicians were threatened with the exposure of their private lives should they dare attack News International. The police were so pally with the Murdoch empire that they failed initially to investigate the hacking claims properly. Were it not for the uncovering of this cesspool of abject immorality by The Guardian's Nick Davies, Our Dave's ConDem government would have waved through, with a knowing nod and a wink, the takeover of BSkyB by News International, ceding control of Britain's media and political worlds solely to Rupert Murdoch. The Leveson Inquiry exposed the level of access that Murdoch and his cronies had to our prime ministers. Tony Blair, when he was leader of the opposition, flew across the world to Australia to address Murdoch's executives and assure them he would create and follow policies they'd be able to support once he was in power. He spoke to Murdoch three times in the ten days before the outbreak of the Iraq war - once on the eve of the US-led invasion. This was in direct contrast to the way in which he pointedly ignored the two million people who marched against the impending conflict. Blair allowed Rupert Murdoch access to the pulleys and levers of power and to apply pressure and exercise influence on policies which included the regulation of broadcasting and the Iraq war. David Cameron hired Andy Coulson after phone hacking had been uncovered at the News of the World. Alastair Campbell, Blairs director of communications, the second most cynical man in Britain - after this humble writer - and the template for Malcolm Tucker in BBC's The Thick Of It, said: I accept that, for all of us, at times media support was something we courted at the expense of opinions of principle on media issues. Everyone had to genuflect at the feet of Rupert Murdoch, no matter what the cost. There were those who knew that phones were hacked, knew it was wrong and chose to do nothing as the criminal practice became a pandemic and a matter of routine. Maintaining a status quo of collusion and cover-up was more important in a world where the powerful political and media elite share exclusive dinner parties, matey texts (Dave Cameron's such a dweeb he thought "LOL" meant "Lots of love" until Rebekah Brooks educated him otherwise) and receive former Metropolitan police horses as gifts. The parents of Milly Dowler - to whom Rupert Murdoch apologised even as he was paying the legal costs of the man who had hacked their dead daughter's phone and whose personal tragedy was wilfully exacerbated by a rapacious press - are merely collateral damage in a war against principle and ethics.