Thursday, 12 June 2014

Tom Watson MP Contacts The Attorney General And Royal Mail Over The Sun's Newspaper Giveaway

Earlier today, in a piece written by Chris Brace, "The Sun Launches A £4.2 Billion Marketing Campaign?", a possible breach of the Printers Imprint Act of 1961 and the Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869 was highlighted.  Copies of the Sun, distributed by the Royal Mail as part of a promotional campaign, appeared to lack the legally required imprint, with the potential for large fines for failing to include the imprint.

Tom Watson MP has now contacted the Royal Mail and Attorney General making them aware of the issue, asking for further investigation of the issue.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Sun Launches A £4.2 Billion Marketing Campaign?

A guest post by Chris Brace.

Every now and then the Newspapers in this country come up with a marketing wheeze that seems to be going to cost an arm and a leg, and you can’t quite see how anyone will ever make a profit. One example is the 1980’s Newspaper Bingo Craze, but the current free giveaway Sun offer seems to go way beyond that.

The paper is in the middle of a three day scheme where every household in England is to receive a copy of the paper except those in the city of Liverpool, for Hillsborough related reasons.

That’s 22 Million copies due to appear through the letterboxes of the nation in the next 48 hours.

There are odd things about living in a house with a retired printing engineer. He just doesn't appreciate books and newspapers in the same way most people do. Whereas for me it’s the content that is king, for him the construction methods are frequently the things that are the most interesting.

While the Sun freebie would have headed straight for the recycling, someone picked it up and found there were staples on the spine. And that activated his interest. Who could have printed this edition as usual Newspaper printing machines tend not to have stapler units?

If you take a look at your newspaper there is an easy way to find this out, there is a small section of text in every edition that tells you these things. This is called the Imprint.

The imprint will have the name and address of the Newspaper, the Publisher, the Printer, and then the words “Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office” followed by copyright declarations.

This small section has to be there by Law so that Libel Claimants know where to send legal claims, or the Police Know whose door to kick in if your newspaper is trying to Bring down the Government , and publisher and printer can be fined for excluding it.

The relevant laws are the Printers Imprint Act of 1961 and the Newspapers, Printers, and Reading Rooms Repeal Act 1869 One of the relevant section reads as follows
Every person who shall print any paper or book whatsoever which shall be meant to be published or dispersed, and who shall not print upon the front of every such paper, if the same shall be printed on one side only, or upon the first or last leaf of every paper or book which shall consist of more than one leaf, in legible characters, his or her name and usual place of abode or business, and every person who shall publish or disperse, or assist in publishing or dispersing, any printed paper or book on which the name and place of abode of the person printing the same shall not be printed as aforesaid, shall for every copy of such paper so printed by him or her forfeit a sum not more than [level 1 on the standard scale]:
A Level 1 fine on the standard scale is Up to £200 since the Criminal justice act 1991 came into force and that amount is due for every single copy of the newspaper that doesn’t include the required details.

The Free giveaway Sun issue that’s being pushed through 22 million doorways as we speak, Guess what it’s missing?

Somehow the Imprint has failed to make it to the printed copy.

How this has happened is something of a mystery, as it is usually part of the standard computer generated outside leaf of the newspaper, and printers are well aware of their legal responsibilities. If they print a newspaper without an Imprint, not only are they fined, and the publisher fined, but they also are not allowed to claim the cost of the printing back from the publisher. A double hit on anyone who might consider doing this.

So what is the situation? 22 million copies at up to £200 fine per copy That’s a fine of up to £4.4 Billion.

Some articles on this obscure piece of law say that it’s only a £50 fine, but they may be based on the previous fines schedule, but even that would amount to a £1.1 Billion fine.

It may however be that with the current schedule, the expected fine is ¼ of the maximum, It’s just something that happens so rarely there aren't that many court cases to refer to. One thing that is certain is that there will be a queue of Liverpool lawyers and MPs demanding the Attorney General takes the appropriate legal action over this illegality.

If this does end up in court, it could end up the most expensive publicity campaign in newspaper history.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Ellison Review And Daniel Morgan

The latest from my regular contributor.

Home Secretary Theresa May, in her statement to the House of Commons on the publication of 'The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review' (Ellison Review) said
On corruption, Ellison finds that specific allegations of corruption were made against one of the officers who had worked on the investigation of Stephen Lawrence’s murder, Detective Sergeant John Davidson. The allegations were made by a police officer to his superiors, but were not brought to the attention of Macpherson...Ellison also refers to possible links between an allegedly corrupt officer involved in the Stephen Lawrence case, Detective Sergeant Davidson, and the investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan. Ellison finds that the Daniel Morgan panel may therefore uncover material relevant to the question of corruption, and so it is key that the Daniel Morgan panel continues its important work.
May was consciously aware that some of the points she had to make could only be made by her under Parliamentary privilege. This was made clear by her Lords' counterpart, Lord Taylor of Holbeach, when he said in the parallel House of Lords debate (addressing Lady Lawrence, Stephen's mother)
I apologise that we were not able to give the noble Baroness advance notice of this Statement. As she probably is aware, the Statement needed parliamentary privilege to be made public because of its content. I hope that noble Lords will understand that that was the right choice to make because we felt that this was a truly important opportunity to put into the public domain matters about which we believe the public should know.
Caution is needed regarding some of the press reporting.  For example, the Telegraph reported, "Mrs May has asked the NCA to investigate the allegations of corruption thrown up by the Ellison review."  (here)

This is not accurate. May's actual words were
Ellison finds that there remain some outstanding lines of inquiry which could be investigated both in relation to alleged corruption by a specific officer and possibly other officers. This is of the utmost seriousness. I have asked the Director-General of the National Crime Agency (NCA) to consider quickly how best an investigation can be taken forward into this aspect of Mr Ellison’s findings and report back to me.
May has not directed the NCA to investigate, she has asked 'HOW BEST' an investigation can be taken forward - a key difference. There is no necessary corollary that the NCA (the agency previously known as SOCA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency) will itself be tasked with the investigation.  Indeed, it could be argued that the NCA a.k.a. SOCA may lack the requisite objectivity for this specific enquiry. (for background, see here)

In fact, May will find the NCA ready to play hardball in resisting any such suggestion.  Within hours of May's statement in the House of Commons, a somewhat curt response was placed on an obscure page of the NCA web site (here)
Ellison review
6 March 2014
The Home Secretary has today asked NCA Director General Keith Bristow for advice on pursuing outstanding lines of enquiry arising from Mark Ellison's report. The Director General has asked Gordon Meldrum, Director of the NCA's Organised Crime Command, supported by a small team of specialists, to consider the report. The Director General will respond to the Home Secretary when he has taken a view.  At this stage the Director General is providing advice, not undertaking an investigation. It is too early to say whether there will be any investigation and, if so, what form that investigation would take. The NCA is operationally independent and it is for the Director General to decide which operations it leads.
So that's the Home Secretary told then.


From 1993 till at least 1998 a multi-million pound anti-corruption initiative was undertaken by the MET, called Operation Othona   It gathered intelligence on corruption "in particular in some of the specialist squads, where apparently successful officers were in fact out of control and acting corruptly in organised groups with criminals.Those criminals were also often their informants.The officers were recycling drugs or other property seized as a result of the informant’s information back to the informant to sell, and then sharing the proceeds. Corrupt officers were providing police information, or ‘losing’ evidence for payment." (p10 here).

On requesting the Othona intelligence in July 2013, Ellison was informed that none of the extensive intelligence could be located, save a single A4 ring binder found at Scotland Yard.  The file is called 'The Dark Side of the Moon – Everyone knows it is there but not many can see it’.  (here)

It lists examples of corruption intelligence, including unauthorised Police National Computer checks (PNC), providing criminals with details of police operations and documents, 'losing' evidence, offering protection from arrest and prosecution, and conspiring with criminals and informants in serious criminality.  As such, the 'Dark Side' file comprises a mere generalising precis based on a huge volume of intel assessments
There are also documents in the briefing file that describe how steps were taken to ensure that every possible source of existing intelligence was gathered into the intelligence cell.Those that we have spoken to have confirmed that this would have included relevant informant files, as well as arrangements being made to share intelligence held by a range of other agencies.
All of the detailed Othona intelligence documents are missing.

Roy Clark, who headed Othona from 1995 till his retirement in 2001, expressed surprise to Ellison, "I'd be shocked if it doesn't exist... there would be no good reason to get rid of it... it was gold dust stuff. It was really gold dust... when I left it existed because there were still jobs sparking off of it." Clark had left "in the hands of Andy Hayman, Detective Superintendent Bob Quick, David Wood and John Yates."

Ellison continued,"We have very recently been informed that in 2003 there was ‘mass-shredding’ of the surviving hard copy reports generated by Operation Othona."

By 2003, Andy Hayman had left the MET for Norfolk Constabulary and Bob Quick was Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey Police.  In 2003 John Yates had moved to a varied portfolio as Acting Commander, which included - curiously - "a small team known as the Special Enquiry Team (SET) which undertook some of the most sensitive investigations on behalf of the Commissioner [John Stevens]."

One individual though may be able to explain any rationale for the 'mass shredding' of Othona in 2003 - Hayman's successor in anti-corruption, Commander Shaun Sawyer. Sawyer is currently Chief  Constable of Cornwall and Devon Constabulary.

Operation Othona intelligence would have covered police corruption in a wide range of investigations, not only the Stephen Lawrence murder. The Ellison Review, from the limited evidence available to it (partial copies of Othona documents found on an abandoned hard drive) was able to establish an enhanced suspicion that DS John Davidson was corrupt before and after his involvement in the Lawrence murder investigation and "the fact that a number of the officers who were/are under suspicion of corruption were connected to the Daniel Morgan murder investigation (on which DS Davidson was identified as having also possibly worked at some stage)." (p11-12 here)


The same day as the Ellison Review was published, BBC Newsnight's lead story was its obtaining of yet another set of suppressed intelligence not seen by Ellison which appear to confirm Det Sgt Davidson did work on the original Daniel Morgan murder investigation.  These 'Morgan1 Investigation' documents seem to show Davidson was directing and allocating taskings to subordinate police officers for action.  Each entry takes the form of
'Action Allocated to [REDACTED name] by DS Davidson', dated 1988

Before the end of the Macpherson Inquiry in 1999, the newly established Racial and Violent Crimes Task Force (CO24) commenced their 'Interim Analysis of Possible Corruption Issues, Stephen Lawrence Inquiry'. One focus for this intelligence analysis was John Davidson, following allegations of his corruption aired at the Macpherson hearings. "Intelligence exists within CIB3 [Complaints Investigations Bureau] and indicates Davidson’s previous involvement in a corrupt relationship with a registered informant."  Further action identified as necessary by the CO24's Interim Analysis included cross-referencing data from Davidson's landline and pager, itemised billing and contact numbers etc to establish criminal connections.  This developed intelligence gathering was coordinated by a CO24 Detective Chief Inspector, Craig Denholm. (pp138-9 here)

Craig Denholm, subsequently Surrey Police lead on the Operation Ruby investigation of the disappearance and murder of Milly Dowler, was more recently the subject of an Independent police Complaints  Commission (IPCC) referral. Then Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey, Denholm was criticised by the IPCC for his assertions of ignorance of the hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile phone by the News of the World. "We also sought to recover all contemporaneous documents; however, not all of the material that could have been expected to be produced could be located", so the IPCC concluded,was insufficient evidence to find misconduct by Denholm.  (here)


The Ellison Review has publicly flagged the lack of clear water between corruption tainting both the murders of Daniel Morgan and Stephen Lawrence.  These muddy connections have been known for a long time, since the publication of The Untouchables, but Ellison has brought out into the light some of the forensic evidence.  Most importantly, Ellison has not settled for anodyne MET assertions that no evidence exists.  There is a range of sustained intelligence from the general to the particular - here are some examples.
  • "report summarises the intelligence held on the IDG database relevant to ex-DS John Davidson prior to 27.7.06 as follows:“Intelligence suggests that Ex-DS John Davidson was a corrupt police officer..."
  • "Intelligence report in which Davidson is referred to as a “corrupt police officer”, prepared by DC Dennis McGarthy and dated 4.8.06."
  • "Intelligence report detailing an incident reported by DS L, when Davidson (who was by then retired) contacted the OCG and asked L to conduct a check at the Passport Office to identify the wife of a client."
  • "Operation Russia - "Intelligence from the ‘Two Bridges’ investigation indicated that DS Davidson was in regular contact with Officers “R”, “F”, “G” and “K”." On Operation Russia, see here
  • Operation Two Bridges was an investigation into Law and Commercial (previously Southern Investigations) and brought to light evidence re the planting of drugs on the wife of Simon James (a client) to ensure he won a custody battle for the couples son. Ultimately James (seven years) Jonathan Rees the PI (seven years) and Austin Warnes, serving MPS officer, (five years) were imprisoned for Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice.
  • "Intelligence report prepared by DS Richard Oliver, dated 28.4.03, concerning Operation Abelard, with specific emphasis on John Davidson. It states that Davidson was attached to the initial investigation of the murder of Daniel Morgan in 1987.“DS Davidson has been investigated by this command (ACC) in the past and is known to associate with some of the subjects of not only Operation Abelard but also several other DPS investigations.”
Operations Abelard I (2002) and Abelard II (2006) were MET re-investigations of the murder of Daniel Morgan and related police corruption. As DS Oliver's intel report is dates 28th April 2003 it must refer to Operation Abelard I.  This means the MET have had this intelligence since at least 2002. In June 2012 MET Commander Peter Spindler provided the Home Affairs Select Commitee (HASC) enquiry into Private Investigators with a precis of Abelard as (here)
The investigation into the murder of Daniel Morgan instigated after a review of the murder by the MPS Murder Review Group; no charges resulted from this first Abelard investigation. Operation Abelard II brought together material from the previous investigations and as a result, William Jonathan Rees, was amongst four men charged with murder. Mr Morgan had worked with Mr Rees in Southern Investigations. This prosecution failed in March 2011 owing to disclosure issues (the prosecution offering no evidence). A fifth man, serving MPS police officer Sidney Fillery, had also been charged with perverting the course of justice, it being alleged he had interfered with the investigation (this charge was stayed in February 2010). Fillery subsequently retired and became Rees’ partner in Southern Investigations. The corruption allegations surrounding the initial investigation led to the then PCA appointing Hampshire Police to investigate, however their report did not identify any corruption.
  • "Intelligence report relating to SK who was under investigation for conducting Police National Computer (PNC) checks for John Davidson, believed to be working for Mayfare Associates at the time." 
Mayfayre Associates was a private investigations company owned and run by two former MET detectives, Keith Hunter and Alec Leighton. For more on their circle of associations, see The Untouchables. Hunter's name cropped up in evidence to the same HASC enquiry into Private Investigators.  Keith Hunter was named, under Parliamentary privilege when a witness alleged that Hunter and his company RISC Management were implicated in bribery and corruption of serving Metropolitan police officers and other public officials. Shortly after, Hunter was arrested.
Leighton's name has also been raised under Parliamentary privilege when Tom Watson MP asked James Murdoch (10th Nov 2011) if he knew if News International had ever employed private detectives Jonathan Rees, John Ross, Barry Beardall or Alec Leighton.
Ellison demonstrates the MET knew Leighton's Mayfayre Associates was allegedly employing John Davidson to obtain illegal PNC checks.  But Mayfayre Associates was not Leighton's only private investigator business. He and his wife Pamela were directors of other companies, such as Charterhouse Investigations Limited.  Whilst Alec has subsequently been a director of several companies without his wife, she has only held one directorship without him. This one company was owned by Pamela Lesle Leighton and one other director - William Jonathon Rees


The Ellison Review highlights that the forthcoming Danel Morgan Panel Inquiry has a crucial and onerous role in identifying, locating, securing and examining further evidence of corruption plus potential links between the murders of Daniel Morgan and Stephen Lawrence. Fortunately, the Ellison review has proved strong enough - and determined enough - to reach its own conclusions on shared issues. The ability of the MET to cooperate transparently remains questionable, in the past and for future enquiries (p 12 here):
In early February 2014, we were informed by the MPS that there is no record of DS Davidson being involved in the investigation into the murder of Mr Morgan. It has been suggested to us that the intelligence analysis in which the suggested link was made is incorrect.  We have some reservations about accepting this assertion, in the absence of further consideration of the material held by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. In any event, a number of the officers involved in the Daniel Morgan investigation can be linked to DS Davidson.
We remain concerned that there is a real possibility that the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel may hold or acquire material of relevance to our review of the corruption issue.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Under Police Protection? - Maxine Carr, Derek Webb, and John Yates

The latest from my regular contributor.

Among the 153 celebrities and politicians the News of the World allegedly asked Derek Webb to put under surveillance, one name stands out - Maxine Carr.

And for both Maxine Carr and Derek Webb, December 17th 2003 turned out to be a very significant date.

Maxine Carr had been arrested on 17 Aug 2002, on suspicion of providing her partner Ian Huntley with a false alibi at the time of the murders of two young Soham girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.  Carr was charged on 21 Aug 2002, and remanded in custody until trial.  The trial of Huntley and Carr started at the Old Bailey the following year, on 3 Nov 2003.  It lasted some weeks until Huntley was convicted of the two murders.  Carr was convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The key date that the jury gave those guilty verdicts was 17 Dec 2003.
That same date, by a strange coincidence, was Derek Webb's first day working for the News of the World.

Webb had just retired from his job as a Hertfordshire police detective - a role that had given him marketable skills and specialist experience in covert surveillance.  He had a contact at the News of the World (NOTW) who arranged enough surveillance commissions that Webb was able to work exclusively for the NOTW. Apart from a 15 month hiatus in 07-09, Webb worked for the title from 17 Dec 2003 until the paper closed on 10 July 2011. (here)

When the title folded, Webb put together a dossier of his taskings and invoices in support of his claim for a 'loyalty' payment in lieu of notice.  News International declined to make payment. The Management and Standards Committee of parent company News Corp advised Webb to take his evidence to the Metropolitan Police (MET).

A short time before Webb was called to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in Dec 2011, his list of 153 NOTW surveillance targets was seen by Channel 4 News.(see here)

It includes sports stars, celebrities etc, but also Princes William and Harry, the Director of Public Prosecutions, several MPs (mainly Labour) including Tom Watson MP - plus Maxine Carr.

On her release from prison on probation in May 2004, it was reported: (here)
The media is expected to go to the High Court on Friday to challenge an interim court injunction protecting her identity and release details.
The Home Office said it supported the court order because of 'concerns over her health and threats to her safety'... The court order, requested by Carr's lawyers, bans publication of any information which could lead to Carr's proposed new identity or address being revealed,.. Meanwhile, the Home Office says a "thorough" investigation will be carried out into the theft on Tuesday of key documents relating to Carr's release...The documents were stolen from a Home Office official's car parked in Hampstead, north London.
The interim order was unsuccessfully challenged and Carr was granted an injunction against the press until further notice. [Carr v News  Group Newspapers 2005] (here)
...if the injunction were to be refused, the task of the police and the probation service would become much more difficult, if not impossible. There is evidence from the claimant herself, from her solicitor, from a senior police officer, from a senior officer of the probation service and from a psychiatrist.... to protect her new identity and to restrict information about her whereabouts and employment, arguing that the injunction should be continued until further order on the grounds that there was a real and significant risk of her injury or death.
And the significance of that crucial date, 17 Dec 2003?

It means that the entire time NOTW was giving Webb surveillance tasks, Carr was either in prison or living a changed identity in a highly secret 'protected persons' programme, and under the injuncted ruling of the High Court of Justice.  It also means the NOTW surveillance by Webb must therefore post-date Carr's release from prison in May 2004, and probably came from sensitive information originating from leaks by Witness Protection Unit or Probation Service.


Webb did not select his own targets.  He would be contacted via the NOTW newsdesk and given the personal information necessary for him to start surveillance - names, business or home address, current location and so on.  To obtain that data, NOTW could have used legally available public domain info, or use 'private detectives'/'tracing agents'/'information agents'/'freelance researchers'/'search agencies' and so on to access personal data on their behalf.  The newsdesk had a hefty budget for this, under the generic heading of 'special investigations'. At various times during the period 2000-2011, the Old Bailey trials have heard, substantial sums were allegedly spent - eg Glenn Mulcaire £2019 per week, 'Matey' £500 per week, Andy Gadd £1000 per week
and 'ELI' €2000 per week
TDI was a small company set up by Sarah and Lloyd Hart. Its registered address was

SW20 8DR

ELI was another small company registered to an accommodation address in Cardiff, opaquely incorporated through 2 start-up businesses as Directors.   ELI a.k.a Express Locate International did not operate from its registered Cardiff address.  Instead, it operated from a familiar trading address:

As well as NOTW, Express Locate International was used extensively by Northern and Shell titles, according to evidence submitted to the Leveson Inquiry, Nicole Patterson, exhibit 2.  (here)

Among the hundreds of enquiries into individuals commissioned from ELI by Northern and Shell was Maxine Carr.  (for background see here)


The integrity of protected person / witness protection programmes has been an enduring feature of Hackgate and related scandals for a long, long time.  Illegal access to Police National Computer and other sensitive data in order to compromise witness protection has been known to law enforcement agencies and documented through Operations Motorman, Glade, Barbatus, Abelard I, Abelard II, Flandria, Caryatid and Project Riverside (see here)

Yet despite all the press coverage - and the publication of the Leveson Report in Nov 2012 - as recently as July 2013 Trevor Pearce (a director of the National Crime Agency and formerly Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), denied any knowledge of compromised witness protection:
As a law enforcement officer who has had some significant engagement with the undercover world and the protected persons’ world, I have not heard of that before.
Also unaware was MET Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations who when asked about the security and integrity of MET witness protection responded "we are not aware of anything in the Metropolitan Police of infiltration of witness protection."  (see here)


It was standard MET assertion to the Leveson Inquiry that Operation Caryatid (the investigation into phone hacking by Goodman and Mulcaire 06-07) was retained strictly within Andy Hayman's command - Specialist Operations (SO). But key aspects were in fact passed outside of SO, to the MET Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

The Leveson Report (Vol I) said:
The Report of the High Tech Crime Unit
On 23 November 2006, pursuant to a task set by DCS Surtees, the High Tech Crime Unit of the Directorate of Professional Standards at the MPS produced a report setting out the results of the examination of the computers and other storage media seized during the August searches...The investigating officers were concerned to discover that within the report were the details of people who had been given new identities as part of the witness protection programme... it gave rise to the possibility that police officers had been providing information to Mr Mulcaire...
DCS Surtees instructed DI Maberly to contact the witness protection unit, provide them with the list of names and ask them to take whatever action they considered necessary. When DI Maberly did so: “it quickly became apparent that contained within were names of interest to [the unit]." ... The report of the High Tech Crime Unit included the following statement: “It is also believed attempts may have been made to corrupt serving police officers and misuse the Police National Computer”.
So what of the role of the Directorate of Professional Standards in the 2006-07 investigation?

Standard practice in the MET is that the DPS should be informed of any intelligence that the security of a 'protected person' for their immediate attention:  "Investigating officers should contact the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) in all cases where protection measures have the potential to be frustrated because of the existence or suspicion of corruption within a Law Enforcement or Government Agency." p2 (here)

Yet, in the case of Operation Caryatid, the DPS took no known action.

The Leveson Report continues:
It is argued by the Core Participant Victims that the apparent failure to act on this adds to the impression that there were areas of investigation which were highly sensitive and which made the MPS unwilling to probe further. Although I understand the concern, it would not be appropriate for me to go further. Suffice to say, the current criminal investigation continues and my determination not to prejudice that investigation has meant that further detail has not been explored in the evidence. The points that I have made about the individual officers responsible for the conduct of Operation Caryatid are not affected and remain, even if there was some additional thread which could have been followed.
Given there was evidence from 2006 the highly sensitive witness protection programme had been breached, the DPS's inertia is disturbing.  But there was another opportunity for it to be re-visited in 2009 as a result of John Yates' quasi-review of Caryatid.  At the MET Commissioner's request, Yates (by then himself heading Specialist  Operations) believed he had the necessary objectivity for the task as he had not led the original 06-07 phone hacking investigation. Yates concluded there was no 'new' information. Technically, that may be accurate as the evidence regarding 'protected persons' was not 'new' as it had been seen by Specialist Operations, WPU (Witness Protection Unit) and DPS three years earlier.

Yates could, presumably, have been more diligent and asked questions about this sensitive evidence and the motivations for the lack of action by the DPS.  At the very least he should perhaps have challenged the senior officer who headed the MET portfolio which included the Directorate of Professional Standards in 2006-07.

That senior officer was Acting Assistant Commissioner JOHN YATES. (here)

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Met - Upsetting The Apple Cart

From my regular contributor.

In October 1999, John Stevens, then Deputy Commissioner of the  Metropolitan Police (MET), gave a high profile address at the 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Durban.  His speech was entitled 'Integrity is not negotiable'. (here)

Of MET corruption he said,
Concerns were again raised about five years ago, when our criminal intelligence branch noted that several of our major crime operations had been compromised, and intelligence suggested that corruption had been a major factor. This gave an uncomfortable indication that organised crime had infiltrated our ranks.
We now realise that while we did deal with the "rotten apples", the approach did not destroy the tree from which they had been picked. This meant that a new batch of rotten apples could grow in another season.
Within a few months Stevens was appointed MET Commissioner, serving 2000-05.  With his 'rotten apples' speech heralding then a new era of integrity, how did his tenure of leadership leave the MET five years later?

When his successor Ian Blair took over in Jan '06, this was the MET Management Board that he inherited from  John Stevens:

It was reportedly a troubled Management Board - divisive, riven with rivalries, prone to press briefing against its own leader Commissioner Blair.  Striking too is just how many of outgoing Commissioner Stevens' 11-strong Management Board have had their professional lives touched in some way by the subsequent Hackgate scandals -  a total of seven (plus another senior officer about to join the Board)

Blair was appointed Commissioner in Dec 05. Blair's term of office coincided with the original phone hacking investigation into Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, Operation Caryatid ('06-07).  He resigned in 2008 as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, openly expressed he had no confidence in Blair's Commissionership. Throughout, Blair is alleged to have been subject to adverse press criticism as a result of senior colleagues briefing against him.

Fedoriwas questioned closely at the Leveson Inquiry about leaks to the press from the MET Management Board - he denied being the source of the leaks.  Following Hackgate disclosues, Fedorcio resigned on the announcement that the Independent Police Complaints Commission were to instigate proceedings against him for gross misconduct. (here)

When Temporary Commissioner in Jan '11, following significant new information provided by News Corp's Management and Standards Committee, Tim Godwin authorised the start of Operation Weeting. Its focus was to investigate allegations of widespread voicemail interceptions by the News of the World.

2000-02 Hayman headed MET Anti-Corruption Command. 2005-07 he was Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO) responsible for counter-terrorism, royalty protection and allied matters. Under that remit, Hayman was in overall command of the controversial Operation Caryatid (phone hacking).  Hayman resigned in 2007. (see here)

House joined the MET as a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in 2001.  In 2005, he was appointed to Assistant Commissioner, first in Central Operations and then heading Specialist Crime Directorate.  In 2007 he took up post as Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police and, in October 2012, he was appointed as the first Chief Constable of Police Scotland.  As such, House is ultimately responsible for Strathclyde Police's ongoing Operation Rubicon.  It is the investigation into alleged perjury by News of the World staff regarding Tommy Sheridan, and the wider consideration of alleged hacking of Scots victims.

Tiplady was criticized by the Independent Police Complaints Commission following an IPCC investigation into the involvement of members of the MET Management Board in the employment of an immediate family member of a former News of the World executive. By the time of the IPCC Report in March '12 Martin Tiplady had resigned from the MET.  The critical Report said, "Despite Mr Tiplady’s claimed lack of direct involvement, the evidence suggests that the overall responsibility for this lack of adherence to policy rests with him. In a written response to the IPCC dated 6 February 2012 he accepted 'that it might be possible to criticise me for not ensuring that staff properly followed recruitment guidelines'. ”  (para 76 here)

[For absolute clarity, the Report made clear that there was no suggestion the relative of the News of the World executive in question, who assisted by meeting investigators and providing a statement, acted inappropriately in obtaining employment with the MET.]

Stephenson succeeded Ian Blair as MET Commissioner in 2008. In July '09, it was Commissioner Stephenson who tasked John Yates with establishing the facts surrounding the Guardian breaking the story of more widespread phone hacking than was evidenced by Operation Caryatid.  Stephenson resigned in July '11 "as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met's links with News International at a senior level "

By mid 2007 the MET Management Board looked like this:

JOHN YATES had by now joined the Management Board.  Included in his portfolio was the Directorate of Professional Standards - motto 'Integrity is non-negotiable'.

[As an aside, Stephen Rimmer became Interim Chair of the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2013, at the time when SOCA was embroiled in controversy over Operation Millipede.]

TWO REPORTS - Spring 2006

Just as Ian Blair started his Commissionership, two key reports were authored - one very likely reached the Commissioner's desk, the other certainly did not.

The first was authored by JOHN YATES. Dated 31 January '06, It ran to "53 pages and 316 paragraphs", and comprised an assessment for the re-opening of investigations into the murder of Daniel Morgan (see here). "The MPA [Yates] report, as it has been called, went on, amongst other things, to make numerous criticisms of the first investigation into the murder, to refer to the loss of exhibits and exhibit books since that investigation and to point to deficiencies in the evidence obtained."  (pp36-37 here)

The second, dated April 2006, was submitted by an officer working on the phone-hacking enquiry, and it appears to have been withheld from Commissioner Blair. First reported by James Cusick and Cahil Milmo
in the Independent (Apr '12), they called it "a suppressed police-intelligence report which outlines allegations that a senior Met manager set out to cripple his own Commissioner...the report contains incendiary claims that the Met's eight-strong management board was 'compromised' – effectively no longer secure – with intelligence details from a reopened murder investigation being passed out of the Yard along with material reflecting a civil war inside the Met's upper echelons" (here)

The Evening Standard revisited the issue to add more detail (here):
The former commissioner first learned of the report when a whistleblower handed it to him in December 2011 at the height of the Leveson Inquiry.  When he learned that Met anti-corruption officers had intelligence to suggest his senior team had been compromised six years earlier yet told him nothing about it, Lord Blair visited Scotland Yard... Lord Blair, who led the Met between 2005 and 2008, asked his former colleagues to investigate the allegations, find out who knew about the security breach and discover why he was not told. 
This Evening Standard report by Tom Harper subsequently prompted questions to Sir Brian Leveson about his 'gagging' when he appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in Oct '13.  (here)

Leveson was clearly unable or unwilling to be drawn on the issue of the MET allegedly serving a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate.

Nevertheless, his responses to relevant questions do reward closer scrutiny, particularly in light of an intriguing intervention from Chair of the CMS Select Committee, John Whittingdale
Q829 Tracey Crouch: The Evening Standard reported that a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner handed a very serious report to your inquiry...which the Met then claimed a public interest immunity over. This then prevented you from referring to it in public or considering it for the conclusions of your report...My understanding is that there was an application for public interest immunity for a particular document... given to you by a former senior police officer alleging corruption... a certificate was issued, which was reported in the Evening Standard, and that, as a consequence of that certificate, you were unable to consider it as part of your recommendations on the relationship between the police and the press. Of course, that is a matter that is of great interest.
Sir Brian Leveson: "I am sorry, this question has - [long pause]
Tracey Crouch: Flummoxed?
Sir Brian Leveson: No, that is not - "
John Whittingdale (Chair) then intervened, "Sir Brian, I begin to get nervous when we talk about matters that should be or could be the subject of criminal action. I rely on you as rather better informed than me to warn us if we are straying into areas we should not.
Q833 "Tracey Crouch: I will curb my questions on that matter... Given my previous question and given ongoing concerns, not to mention the Daniel Morgan case that you reference once in your report, do you think the Met Police were, in fact, the right police force to conduct the current operations into journalist activities?"
Sir Brian Leveson: "I am not going to comment on that. I do say, which reflects a little bit on your last question, that there were some relationships between the press and very senior officers of the Metropolitan Police of which I was critical, of which you will be aware.
I did not go into too much detail, for reasons that the Chairman has just identified.
The circumstances surrounding the revisiting of Operation Caryatid in 2009 and 2010 are analysed - again I use the adjective tedious - at great length in my report, and the circumstances of the reopening of the investigation in January 2011 are also identified. We are still seeing the consequences flow through the system."
So it might be that the fallout from Hackgate is not over.  John Stevens assertion in Durban in '99 that "while we did deal with the 'rotten apples' the approach did not destroy the tree from which they had been picked" may have been prescient.   His legacy in the form of the MET Management Board he bequeathed to his successor might yet be tested against his yardstick of integrity being non-negotiable.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Argument Hashtag

A humourous post from my regular contributor.

A newbie walks into Twitter.

Mr Newbie: Ah. I'd like to have an argument, please.

Twitter: Certainly sir. that's what we're here for.

Mr Newbie:  This is my first time on Twitter.

Twitter:  I see. Well, do you want to have the full argument?

Mr Newbie:  Umm, what would be the cost?

Twitter:  Well, It's 6 tweets for a five minute tiff, or all day for the 'Full Dacre' as we call it.

Mr Newbie:   I think it's probably best if I start with the tiff and then see how it goes from there, okay?

Twitter:  Fine. I'll see who's free at the moment.


Twitter: (mutters to self) ...he's free, but he's a little bit conciliatory. Ahh yes, Try here, on the Leveson hashtag.

Mr Newbie: Thank you. (wanders into Twitter)


Mr Newbie:  Ummm... Well, I was told that...


Mr Newbie: What?


Mr Newbie: *innocent face*  But I came here for a civilised argument!!

Angry man:  OH! Oh! I'm sorry! This is abuse!

Mr Newbie: Oh! Oh I see!

Angry man:  Aha! No, you want the press Chablis Bar, next door.

Mr Newbie:  Oh...Sorry...

Angry man: Not at all!

Angry man:  (under his breath) Stupid git.

(Mr Newbie goes into #ChilledChablis)

Mr Newbie: Is this the right room for an argument?

Mr Hack1:  I've told you once, you can't come in here.

Mr Newbie  No you haven't!

Mr Hack1: Yes I have.  Members only.

Mr Newbie: Members...?

Mr Hack2: Members ONLY.  Entry only if you've worked on tabloids, man and boy, fifty three years plus, sub-ed, freelance, back bench....

Mr Newbie: No you didn't tell me that!

Mr Hack3: Yes we did!  It's in the Editors' Code, everybody knows that. Ee, those were the days...

Mr Newbie:  Aha!  I see!  I'm in the 3 Yorkshiremen hashtag by mistake, aren't I!

Mr Hack1:  No you're not!

Mr Newbie:  Yes, I am!

Mr Hack2:  No, you're not!

Mr Newbie:  Yes, I AM!

(wanders off to the Leveson hashtag)

Mr Newbie: Is this the Leveson hashtag, please?

Mr Clever-Clogs:  It might be... but we're having an existential crisis of Sartre-ian proportions, so we don't quite....

Mr Newbie:  No you're not!

Mr Clever-Clogs:  Yes we are!

Mr Newbie: No you're not! I can see you're having a civilised debate on press regulation and...

Mr Blackand-Whyte:  That's enough... time's up!

Mr Newbie: Eh?? No, it isn't!

Mr Blackand-Whyte:  Yes, it is!  Unless you commit to the Full Dacre for the rest of the day, you'll have to leave.

Mr Newbie: OH. Oh, I get it... count me in!

Mr Steering-Group:  However, this remains a Charter written by politicians, imposed by politicians and controlled by politicians. It has not been approved by any of the newspapers or magazines it seeks to regulate.

Mr Newbie:  Ah, that's better..... No, it isn't! (smiles)

Mr Steering-Group: Yes it is!

The Right Hon Mr Authority-Figure MP:  A free press was one of the things that distinguished us from authoritarian regimes. Now we abandon it without a shot being fired in anger.

Mr Newbie: No it hasn't!!

Mr Cheesed-Off:  Sick of cries about our “free press” from national newspapers, whose handful of proprietors often don’t even pay UK taxes. #Leveson

Mr Mike Giggler:  He would say that, wouldn't he!!!!

Mr Newbie:  Now look, this isn't an argument!


All:  Yes it is!

Mr Newbie:  No it isn't!


Mr Newbie:  It's just contradiction!

All:  No it ISN'T!

Professor Philosophiser:  Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

Mr Blackand-Whyte: Not necessarily... I might be contradicting in my spare time.

Mr Newbie:  (exasperated) No, you aren't!

Lord Justice Leveson:  Don't look at me.  i am not prepared to argue about it -  I'm just an adjective.

Mr Newbie: NO, YOU'RE NOT!


Mr Newbie exits Twitter.  #facepalm

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Express Investigations: What Whittamore Did Next

A guest post by Chris Brace aka Mr Ceebs.

You don’t get to be a tabloid without the police issue cheerleading outfit. Especially if you’re one of the mid-market examples, constantly worried about immigrants and the unemployed.  The Express managed  to spend  money watching a range of terrorist suspects and those in the police who have watched them.

For Abu Quatada, they managed to spend £1075 to investigate over a single days story. This is for someone under house arrest,  so you don’t need a PI to follow someone around. But it’s also someone banned from using phones and computers, so you would question what services were being supplied, unless it’s all the mentioned persons family, or their DWP records being blagged. Interestingly, the Express were willing to spend more on a single hate figure than they spent on investigating the 7/7  bombers, on whom they only managed to spend  £705. One thing that it does suggest is that in the case of Quatada, the attacks have been started by the Newspapers rather than by leaks  from relevant government departments. If it had come from handouts from the home office and DWP then Desmonds troops would have been able to save money by not spending cash on PI’s

Looking further down the list there are a whole range of possible terror suspects who Desmonds troops are willing to throw a few pounds at a PI to find their details. Here are a few examples with the amount paid
Haroon Rashid (Atalah)  £264. (Yassin)Hassan Omar £76 London Bombers £212 London Bombings £705 Girma Yeshi £76 Abdul Muhid £100 abdul rauf £76 Zahoor Iqbal £271 
If you are to look at the people involved, there are several questions to ask. If they are following the same pattern as has elsewhere been employed, then it’s possible that details have been exchanged with co-operating servants of the law. Otherwise, it would involve acquiring friends and family details from a variety of databases (most likely phone companies) none of which can be done legally. After all, these people are all under arrest, or have taken part in terrorist activities that have left them far from this mortal coil. Either situation leaving them at best unlikely to answer a phone that is now in the hands of the police, and possibly leaving you having to answer some very awkward questions from men in uniforms with no sense of humour.

Further inside the list are a variety of current and former police officers probably the most interesting of which is Sir David Veness.  Now Sir David is the former Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at the metropolitan police from 1994 to 2005 and then United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security. From 2005 to 2008, When he was transferred out from the met, he was replaced by Andy Hayman so but for the international adventure, he could have been the man facing awkward questions in front of committees and judges. It may be that he will be a witness in Leveson part 2 as some of the alleged criminal activity will have happened at a time when he was the man holding the hot seat, rather than Hayman.

The Quick and the Dead

From talking to both journalists, and those who have encountered them, the most despised part of the Newspaper art is the so called “death knock” were hapless journalists or photographers are sent round to acquire quotes and pictures of the newly grieving relatives, sometimes even before the Police have arrived to tell the victims family that the unfortunate is no longer with us. (that is an apparent  cascade of dawning comprehension as to the situation on both sides of the conversation that cannot be a pleasant experience)

In amongst the lists provided by the express are a large number of names of the recently departed.  Now seeing as finding the individual named in the stories phone number would be at best unproductive, you can only assume that the connections are being trawled for friends and family contacts to add colour to the stories.

If you are remotely well known, or have died in an unusual way then the paper seems to find it open season on your friends and relations  And if  you’re a death that manages to hit the front pages then  there appears to be no limit.

Some days over the last several years it has seemed if the Express isn’t trying to tell you that the cure for cancer hasn’t been discovered, or the weather is going to be how it doesn’t eventually turn out then it’s either still punting spurious stories based on the people’s princess. However on days when that isn’t occurring then it’s working on driving the same old crowd of Bullying McCann conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.

Looking through the document (noted here) in there are a variety of McCann linked stories that have been investigated.

Searchline and System Searches came up with the following billed Items for those investigated

McCann (ref 093/L) £135 published Daily express 04/05/2007

Murat (ref 099/L) £464 published daily express 07/12 2007

Rob Murat (ref 100/L) £464 published daily express 07/12 2007

Kate McCann (ref 132/L) £382 published Daily Express 20/9/2007

Kate McCann (ref 136/L) £499 published Daily Express 9/11/2007

Kate McCann colleague (ref 137/L) £264 published Daily Express 9/11/2007

Kate McCann friends(ref 229/L) £499 published Daily Express 9/11/2007

Gerald McCann (ref 14656) £282 published Daily Express 21/9/2007

And that isn’t including named friends of the McCanns (a no doubt incomplete list from the paperwork)

Dianne Webster  (116/l) £146.88 published Daily Express 31/8/2007

Russell o’Brian (117/s) £146.88 published Daily Express 31/8/2007

Deanne Webster (139/l) £88.13 published Daily Express 21/9/2007

And then much more expensively the following came from JJ services

Murat (ref 6013)  £904 published Sunday express 26/8/2007

McCann (ref 6017) £851 published Sunday express 22/9/2007

Sophia Murat (ref 2169/g) £188 published Daily express 05/06/2007

Now JJ services is  one of the names that popped up in relation to the previous ICO  operation Motorman investigation. And from that we have a price list for their services, published in What Price Privacy

Information required Price paid to Price charged to customer

Occupant search/Electoral roll check  (obtaining or checking an address)  £17.50
Telephone reverse trace* £75
Telephone conversion (mobile)* £75
Friends and Family    £60 – £80 not known
Vehicle check at DVLA   £150 – £200
Criminal records check   £500
Area search (locating a named person across a wide area) £60
Company/Director search  £40
Ex-directory search  £65 – £75
Mobile telephone account enquiries £750
Licence check £250

Now it is noticeable that very few of these services are legal.  But even the most expensive activity that can only  be the result of illegal techniques comes to less than was charged to investigate Kate McCann or Robert Murat. Now it’s possible that they were paid to sit outside the house of Robert Murat. However, half the worlds press, including Express Journalists were there, so it seems unlikely.

You would think that something closely related to the activities on that list were a more likely source of the bill, But even though it was mentioned by DAC Sue Akers at one of her committee appearances that investigations into the paper group were happening as yet we see no signs of Express group journalists feeling the heavy hand of the Met on their collars.