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Only Five Hours Left to Expose the Shocking Leveson Evidence Press and Police Don't Want You to Hear

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Peter JukesLondon
Only Five Hours Left to Expose the Shocking Leveson Evidence Press and Police Don't Want You to Hear
The British governments consultation on whether Leveson Two should go ahead ends at 5pm today. Don't let there be another coverup

Whatever your feelings about press regulation, there is another element to the government consultation that ends today which is hard to argue against: the commencement of Leveson Two.

While I can understand reservations about an approved regulator, it completely astonishes me that groups like Index on Censorship would want to suppress shocking evidence on police and press corruption.  

The only major argument against the promised Part Two of the Leveson Inquiry seems to be that the issues it was supposed to address have been amply dealt within the courts and are covered by existing law.

As someone who sat through every moment of the grueling 8-month long phone hacking trial two years ago, live tweeting all the evidence that legal restrictions allowed, I can tell you - this is bunkum.

The News of the World was proved beyond all reasonable doubt to be, in the prosecutor’s words “a thoroughly criminal enterprise.”

The Leveson Inquiry into the culture and practices of the press was deliberately split in two to prevent any prejudice to pending court cases. Only now those trials are over and the evidence is in can a public inquiry fully assess a scandal which Carl Bernstein has described as “bigger than Watergate”.

Trials for Hacking and Bribes

While the most high profile defendant in the trials of the last few years, Rebekah Brooks, now reinstated as CEO of News UK, was found not guilty on all charges, nine others were eventually convicted for conspiracy to phone hack at that paper, including five executives and her deputy and successor, Andy Coulson. 

The News of the World was proved beyond all reasonable doubt to be, in the prosecutor’s words “a thoroughly criminal enterprise.”

How on earth did this happen to Britain’s 168 year old best-selling tabloid? We now know, from settlements in civil cases, that there was extensive phone hacking at the Mirror Group too. 

What policies can news rooms put in place to stop this happening again? Why did no one blow the whistle? Was journalistic privilege misused to hide it? How much did management collude or try to cover up?

These are questions only a public inquiry can answer, and what Leveson Two was always designed to do.

Then there were the dozens of trials for corrupt payments to public officials when News International, to the surprise of the Metropolitan Police, dumped thousands of emails detailing illegal payments made to police officers, prison guards and civil servants.

These are questions only a public inquiry can answer, and what Leveson Two was always designed to do.

Because all these allegations predated the Bribery Act, which came into force in 2013, the journalists and their sources were tried under the archaic Misconduct in Public Office law. Unsurprisingly, most juries didn’t think journalists could be guilty of misconduct in public office, and most were acquitted. However over 30 public officials were convicted, most serving prison time.

How did this happen? Rebekah Brooks confessed to a 2003 select committee that her papers paid police officers (inadmissible in the hacking trial because of parliamentary privilege). Rupert Murdoch was caught on tape in 2014 telling Sun journalists that paying cops was standard practice in Fleet Street when he arrived. The Sun paid one public official over £100,000 for leaks from the Ministry of Defence.

Yet why should only the footsoldiers in the press, shopped by their management, have been held to account for what was a standard practice?  Why not their bosses?

Millions were paid out to public officials by the British tabloids. How did this happen? Is there no public interest defence for it? What about protecting journalistic sources? What about a whistleblower who needs cash to protect their career or family?

Yet why should only the footsoldiers in the press, shopped by their management, have been held to account for what was a standard practice? Why not their bosses?   

These are questions only a public inquiry can answer, and what Leveson Two was designed to do.

Unheard evidence about The Fake Sheikh

The most important remit of part two was to more closely examine the relationships between press and police, and there is now new evidence of more extensive illegality which the police knew about but did nothing to stop.

Take the case of Britain’s most famous journalist, the ‘King of the Stings’ Mazher Mahmood, who was convicted for perverting the course of justice last year over his sting on the singer Tulisa Constavlos.

There is now new evidence of more extensive illegality which the police knew about but did nothing to stop.   

In his ‘Fake Sheikh’ persona, Mahmood boasted to Leveson One that he was responsible for over 200 convictions. He worked closely with the police with his stings like a fake Victoria Beckham kidnap or a spurious Red Mercury terrorist threat, even having tea with the Commissioner of the Met.

Yet at the same time the Met knew that Mahmood had worked for years with the notorious Southern Investigations private detective agency, the subject of a covert bug and undercover infiltration because of connections with the murder of its founder Daniel Morgan.

Mahmood was spotted trying to buy stories from a police officer at a local pub, and when interviewed under caution in 2005 openly told investigators he had ‘bent’ police officers as his informants.

Yet, for years, Mahmood was somehow protected by the police, and enjoyed unique status at News UK, where he moved from paper to paper, and could overrule an editor.

How was Mahmood allowed to continue his stings, and with the aid of police, set up dozens more people? 

These are questions only a public inquiry can answer, and what Leveson Two was designed to do.   

Unheard Witnesses from the Daniel Morgan Investigation

By far the most startling revelations in the last few years, however, has been how phone hacking was only the tip of a much darker iceberg of illegal story gathering for News of the World and Mirror newspapers. Yet none of this has been heard.

In one six month period alone the police detected 64 crimes involving Southern Investigations and illegal data gathering, none of which has ever been prosecuted.

These dark arts extended to working with underworld figures to derail ongoing police inquiries, reveal protected witnesses and undercover officers, in effect subverting the criminal justice system as well as perverting sections of the press.   

(Much of this is documented in my podcast Untold: the Daniel Morgan Murder which was selected as the Best of 2016 by iTunes Podcasts and received 4 million downloads).

Former Detective Chief Inspector Dave Cook, who headed up the last two Daniel Morgan murder inquiries in Southern Investigations, was arrested on the eve of being a core participant, because an email handed over by News Corp to the Met revealed he had been talking to a journalist about a book. 

Those charges have now been dropped, and Cook could reveal nearly 20 years of evidence about the extensive criminality which was known to both the Met and senior News UK management

Another unheard witness, former police officer, Derek Haslam, sent undercover as an informant for seven years into Southern Investigations,could reveal the extensive networks between corrupt police officers, the criminal underworld, and the press.

The Rest of the Iceberg

Both Cook and Haslam could reveal a more disturbing and dangerous world than phone hacking: a chilling story of computer surveillance, bugging, bribes, blagging, and burglary that go far beyond obvious celebrity targets to hundreds of senior politicians and police officers.

These dark arts extended to working with underworld figures to derail ongoing police inquiries, reveal protected witnesses and undercover officers, in effect subverting the criminal justice system as well as perverting sections of the press.

Though some of this material will be examined by the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel, due to report next autumn, the research exercise, modelled on the Hillsborough panel, has no powers to subpoena witnesses or compel disclosure.

All this new unheard evidence can only be dealt with by a public inquiry, and is what Leveson Two was designed to do. 

YOU CAN SUBMIT A PREFILLED HACKED OFF RESPONSE TO THE GOVT ABOUT BOTH LEVESON TWO AND SECTION 40 HERE

BUT IF YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE A SUBMISSION ON LEVESON TWO LONE THE DIRECT LINK IS HERE. 

#Leveson Two, #Daniel Morgan, #Mazher Mahmood

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