The revelation that News International has launched a spy satellite to better facilitate its tabloid newsgathering capability, has caused great consternation amongst media rivals, politicians and human rights activists. “This is a very disturbing development,” claims top civil rights solicitor Artie Pummel. “The phone hacking business was bad enough – nobody knew whose numbers the News of the World had – but at least it was only your voice mails they could snoop on. With this orbital spy-in-the-sky, there’s no aspect of anyone’s life they can’t pry into. No female celebrity will be able to sunbathe topless in their own garden, for instance, for fear of their bare breasts being snapped from ten miles up! This really does represent a gross infringement of individuals’ privacy!” The existence of the satellite first came to light after News International tabloid The Sun last month ran a front page exclusive exposing the alleged infidelity of a top soap star, complete with infrared photographs supposedly showing him receiving oral sex from a female colleague in his marital bed. “Look, there’s no doubt as to what was going on,” declares journalist Craig Hymen, in response to the actor’s denials and threats of legal action. “Even with infrared imagery you can clearly see her smoking the baldy man, just look at the way his entire groin area flares red with the heat of his ejaculation!”

Hymen is adamant that there is no possibility of misidentification. “We’ve got all the footage of the satellite zooming in on his street, then his house, and we’ve got imagery which clearly shows them entering the house. We only switched to infrared once they were inside,” he says. “Believe me, the resolution on those cameras is so sharp that you can clearly see the areola on an erect nipple at a hundred miles. It’s definitely them going into his house.” The newspaper quickly followed this story up its exposure of a prominent MP, noted for his campaigns against declining moral standards in public life, and his sadomasochistic romps with prostitutes. “It was the infrared filters that did for him as well – they were able penetrate right down into the torture dungeon he’s built in the cellar of his West London house,” chuckles Hymen. “We got the lot – all the whippings, canings, stretchings on the rack and hot wax treatments. Again, there’s no doubt that it’s him – the camera was able to convert the vibrations in the floorboards into sound waves, so we’ve got all the groans and screaming. According to our voice analysis software, it’s definitely that hypocritical bastard taking a thrashing. I bet he wishes he’d used a gag now!”

Whilst many are aghast at this development, News International executives are jubilant over the satellite’s early successes. “Strewth, I don’t know why we didn’t think of it before. It’s just a logical development of the TV satellite broadcasting operation of our parent company, News Corp,” says Bruce Gash, head of the company’s covert newsgathering division. “As our cameras are now in space, outside of any national jurisdictions, we aren’t actually breaking any privacy laws are we? It certainly makes it more difficult for any bludgers to try and sue us, anyway!” According to the antipodean, who has been with various of Rupert Murdoch’s companies, advising on technology, since the 1970s, the surveillance satellite hasn’t just brought legal benefits to New International’s operations. “The potential monetary savings are incredible – do you know how much we have to pay those bloody paparazzi for their dirty pictures?” he points out. “Not to mention the savings we’ll make by not having to set up those complex scams with fake sheiks and hookers. Obviously, with the satellite having cost us hundreds of millions to develop and put into orbit, we’re talking long term savings here.”

Gash defended News International from accusations that it was further ‘dumbing down’ journalistic standards by using a satellite as its primary means of generating news stories. “Are you bloody joking, mate? The kind of hacks willing to work on tabloid rags like ours couldn’t find their own fart in a bathtub, let alone chase down a story,” he says. “Why else do you think we were employing private detectives to tap people’s phones before we launched the satellite?” Gash also swept aside suggestions that the whole project was conducted in secrecy so as to avoid any chance of national governments preventing the satellite’s launch. “Stone the flaming crows!” declares the exasperated antipodean,. “We’re not bloody SPECTRE for God’s sake! We didn’t launch the bleedin’ thing out of our secret base in a volcano, while Rupert sat in the control room stroking a white cat! It was just a regular commercial satellite launch.” Gash has no doubt that the News International spy satellite represents a massive technological breakthrough. “Make no mistake, this is going to revolutionise tabloid reporting,” he declares. “We’re now in a situation where nobody can hide their indiscretions from us, where we can obtain absolute proof of their misdemeanours. This is going to usher in a new age of precision muck raking!”

However, the satellite doesn’t represent the only advanced surveillance technology currently being employed by News International. “Obviously, there are limits as to the kind of detailed information the satellite can provide us with,” admits Gash. “Once we’ve identified the target and established that they’re up to no good, we send in our second wave – adapted military drones. Their cameras can peer right into bedroom windows, regardless of how inaccessible they might be to human paparazzi and get us the goods, in full high definition and widescreen.” Several types of drone are being deployed by News International, Gash claims. “We’ve got the hovering type for getting those candid bathroom window boob flash shots,” he explains. “But for following our targets, especially when they are in vehicles, we’ve got the ones like miniature planes. You know, the sort that the US use for firing missiles at towel heads and camels out in Afghanistan.” Gash is at pains to point out that none of the drones News International deploys are armed. “Strewth mate, we only want to get pictures of the buggers getting their pipe smoked by some slapper,” he exclaims. “Believe me, the only weaponry we want to see are a lovely big pair of bare bazookas!”

Despite this denial there have been allegations that a recent explosion at the house of comedian Steve Coogan, (who is currently suing News International over the alleged hacking of his phone), was caused by Hellfire missiles fired from a drone, rather than a gas leak. A drone has also been blamed for the supposed strafing of movie star Hugh Grant’s car. Grant has also been a highly vocal critic of News International over the phone hacking scandal. “That’s just bloody ridiculous,” sighs Gash. “There are plenty of people out there who’d like to kill those bludgers – have you seen any of their recent films?” Artie Pummel fears that the satellite and the drones won’t be the end of News International’s advanced techno-snooping, suspecting that there will soon be a crossover involving the Sky satellite TV operation and the satellite surveillance system. “Believe me, before you know it, our TVs will be watching us, beaming everything we do up to their satellite to provide programming for a new ‘reality’ TV channel – it won’t be Sky News so much as Spy News,” he says. “In fact, I think they might have already started – the other night I was getting down to it on the sofa with my wife, while Sky Sports News was on the telly. When I glanced over at the screen, I swear that Jeff Stelling was watching intently as I groped my wife’s left breast!”