Reporters interfering in a murder investigation. Botched police investigations. Political stitch-ups.
Leveson Part Two is the Line of Duty storyline we are all living in.
Evidence of corrupt links between serving police officers and the press has existed for decades – tainting the integrity of both institutions.
A sexual assault survivor’s secrets sold to the press
Last year the Metropolitan Police Service finally admitted that police officers who had interviewed a survivor of a sexual assault had then sold details of her ordeal to a national newspaper. The woman at the centre of the case has bravely come forward to tell your story, in her own words, for Hacked Off – in an article which will be published shortly.
The police’s treatment of her was not a one-off.
Several other public servants have been convicted for selling personal information about people to the press, but the full extent of the problem remains unknown. Without an independent Inquiry, we will never know how common and deeply rooted these corrupt practices are.
Police wrongdoing covered up?
Yet politicians and the police worked with the media to stitch up a false account of what happened – which wrongly blamed the victims for deaths of 96 innocent people, instead of the actions of South Yorkshire Police.
Why did newspapers, most notably The Sun, cover for the police? And what did the paper get in return?
Interference in a murder investigation?
Then there was the story of Daniel Morgan – a PI reportedly set to expose police corruption in 1987. But before he could do so, he was murdered.
Six police inquiries (and counting) have failed to find the culprit, but what they have found is evidence of institutional police corruption and attempts to interfere in the investigations into Morgan’s death from journalists working for Murdoch’s old paper, the News of the World.
In 2001, the family of the police officer heading up the fourth investigation into Morgan’s murder was followed and spied on by the News of the World.
Why? It’s claimed that a network of corrupt Murdoch journalists and police officers are connected to Daniel Morgan’s murder – and that they followed the family of the detective pursuing his case in an attempt to intimidate him.
Turning a blind eye?
We also know that during the investigation into the death of Milly Dowler in 2001, Surrey Police were informed that Murdoch’s paper had hacked her phone. They took no action against the paper and the crime remained hidden until ten years later, when its disclosure disgusted the nation.
Then in 2003, an investigation by the Information Commissioner revealed that thousands of people had personal information stolen by PIs working for the press. But the authorities didn’t touch the journalists named in the evidence as having paid for the information.
Not a single one of them was even interviewed.
In the same year Rebekah Brooks, who has been editor of The News of the World and The Sun, publicly confessed to paying police officers for information. The police took no action.
In 2006, it was discovered that a reporter at The News of the World hacked Royal phones. The police investigated and reported no evidence of further hacking. In 2009 the police reviewed the 2006 investigation and reaffirmed their 2006 finding.
In 2011 it was publicly confirmed that hacking was widespread at the paper – even the “office cat” knew, as one whistle-blower put it – yet apparently, the police had seen nothing of it. By this point, the police officer in charge of the initial investigation had left the police and was working for a Murdoch newspaper.
How did the police miss widespread criminality at a newspaper they investigated twice?
When it has come to newspapers, and particularly those owned by Rupert Murdoch, these events paint the picture of a police force which was incompetent or complicit.
Fast-forward to the present day. We now know that hacking went on at multiple newspaper titles, and that it was covered up for years. Several more were stealing personal data.
But what we know is just the tip of the iceberg.
The real question is: what don’t we know?
Who were the bent coppers who covered up the wrongdoing of the press? What criminality are they covering up today?
How did Murdoch’s papers – and the rest of them – get away with industrial scale criminality for so long? What else are they hiding?
And, perhaps most importantly, how corrupt is our police force today?
Leveson Part Two was the Inquiry which was designed to get to the bottom of police corruption in relation to the press. Like a well-staffed AC-12, with all its work carried out in public. Like DCI Hastings, Sir Brian Leveson is an experienced and unimpeachable investigator.
Then in 2018, Matt Hancock cancelled this inquiry. The public supported the Inquiry and Sir Brian Leveson backed it. But the press, the police and the Government feared it. And sure enough Matt Hancock, as Culture Secretary at the time, got it terminated.
But now, we are demanding answers.
Join the fight. Write to your MP to demand action on police corruption today.
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