Former police officer breaks down in tears when telling inquiry about NoW surveillance
A former police officer put under surveillance by the News of the World had to hold back the tears as she told the Leveson Inquiry her employee file could have been leaked to the press by someone in the Metropolitan Police.
Jacqui Hames, who was a presenter on Crimewatch, said information obtained by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire could only have come from her personnel file and said someone had “sold me down the line”.
Hames described seeing her personal information in notebooks recovered from Mulcaire last year, including her payroll and warrant numbers and previous police accommodation, which she said could only have come from her police employee file.
She became visibly upset and started crying when describing her experience of being placed under surveillance by the News of the World in 2002.
She said: “It is very difficult. By coming here you stick with your head above the parapet. The impact on us is important because it is very easy to compartmentalise people because celebrities have clearly suffered, as have many others. It’s easy to dismiss people because they should be able to put up with it. But no one from any walk of life should have to put up with it.”
Hames told the inquiry she and then husband Dave Cook, a detective chief superintendent, were routinely followed and had their emails tampered with while Cook led a review into the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan. Rebekah Brooks told Cook and Dick Ferdorcio, the Met’s head of press, this was because it was suspected the pair were having an affair with each other, despite being a well-known married couple.
Hames told Lord Justice Leveson she suspected there was some collusion between those convicted of Morgan’s murder and the newspaper. Jonathan Rees, a private investigator allegedly employed by News of the World, was cleared of the murder last year, after the trial collapsed.
Brooks allegedly promised to investigate the link between Rees and Alex Marunchak, then senior news editor at the paper, but Hames said nothing further was done.
She said: “I cannot think of one reason why that would be in any shape or form a valid reason to put us under surveillance. We had been together for 11 years, we were a well-known couple, it wouldn’t have taken much to completely refute the allegation.”
Hames, who now advises officers on media relations, told the inquiry the police should have open and honest discourse with the media, as long as relationships with journalists “maintained professional integrity”.
Earlier in the morning, Simon Hughes, a Liberal Democrat MP, said the police initially gave him limited information over the hacking of his phone by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. He was shown documents recovered from Mulcaire listing names of three senior journalists at the paper alongside his personal information last year.
He was frustrated “three or four years had been lost”, during which illegal activity may have continued, because action was not taken by police in 2006.
He added: “[The police] indicated there may be in this book some names of other people with whom Mr Mulcaire was working.
“If there had been more robust action in 2006 a lot of the illegal action might have been shut down and a lot of the people who are now known to be victims might not be victims or might not have suffered as much.
“It was clear from September 2006 at the highest level the News of the World knew about this and therefore it was in the public interest that the News of the World and their employees should be held to account.”
Hughes pointed out Mulcaire’s conviction in 2006 was based around the assumption he had received £12,300 from the paper, when in fact a list of bank transactions shows he was paid over £400,000 by the paper before his arrest in transfers alone.
The MP said intrusion into his private life, including a Sun article revealing intimate details about his personal affairs which resulted from the paper allegedly obtaining phone records, had a direct impact on his political reputation. He told the inquiry two of his friends had been regularly followed by the press on the assumption he was romantically involved with one or both of them.