Thursday 2 August 2012

Some Intriguing Hackgate "Known Unknowns"

Another article by a regular contributor.
...There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we know know we don't know...
Some loose ends: The Leveson Inquiry has not concluded its formal evidence hearings having tied up all the frayed ends. In fact, it would be more accurate to say the Inquiry has not even concluded.  Dacre and Associated Newspapers have rowed back from their challenge to Lord Justice Leveson over prima facie wrongdoing evidenced in Operation Motorman - see their response to Leveson's Ruling - and have thus evaded the threat of Motorman Hearings in August. Yet, more submissions on partial release of Motorman information are expected from Core Participant Victims' counsel and any relevant responses should be completed by September 10th. These, together with the return of Sue Akers to update on police investigations, point to at least one more Hearing in mid-September.

And there are several more 'known unknowns'...

The Motorman Files: It is not explicitly known whether the Motorman material now forms part of the evidence currently being investigated.  However, recent charges specify timescales similar to Steve Whittamore's illegal activities and Sue Akers has made reference to evidence utilised from "previous investigations".  A limited amount of information is known from the Motorman Files, but further unknown lines of enquiry could come from the 17, 000 lines of information estimated by Alex Owens, (para 5.10), or 13,343 lines according to the Information Commissioner, 5,025 clear breaches and 6,330 probable breaches of law (pp 56-57' Robert Jay's Opening Submission Nov 14th 2011)

Glenn Mulcaire was ordered by the UK Supreme Court to disclose the names of those who commissioned him. These names will be disclosed only to victims' legal representatives - and to the Metropolitan Police Service.  It seems clear that the Met are then able to use this information in files for charging decisions which are referred to the Crown Prosecution Servive (CPS).  We do not know if those commissioning Mulcaire include any of those journalists already arrested or charged, but we do know that there are 28 legible 'corner names' in the Mulcaire documents.

The Mulcaire Notebooks comprise c. 11,000 pages, 2,266 taskings, those 28 legible corner names, 5,795 named potential victims, 690 audio recordings, 586 voicemail messages and an unquantified amount of computer material.
According to the Metropolitan Police, News International hacking operation had certainly begun by 2002, Milly Dowler being the first named victim. We, however, have recently seen a document which emanates from May 2001. The police believe that it continued until at least 2009. This belief is not derived from an analysis of the Mulcaire notebooks, which we know were seized back in 2006.
- Mr Jay, Opening 14th Nov 2011, pp86-88

So, it appears that there is unknown, additional corroborating evidence that post-dates Mulcaire's 2006 arrest. This must mean that there are as-yet unknown alleged offences between 2006-2009, for which Mulcaire (and possibly alleged conspirators) may or may not have recently been arrested and/or charged under Operation Weeting.

It is not known in detail what the Operation Nigeria material may contain that is relevant specifically to Hackgate.  It is though known that it is amongst the 750,000 documents in connection to Daniel Morgan's murder, and there is substantial other evidence including audio recordings. Surprisingly not all of these audio recordings have yet been transcribed, according to Tom Watson (House of Commons, 29th February 2012)

It is though known that ALL of the evidence relating to the murder of Daniel Morgan - which includes the Operation Nigeria material - is undergoing a forensic review by the Met, and possibly the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The use of the term 'forensic' is nicely ambivalent as - technically- it encompasses establishing evidence to the standard necessary for court proceedings.  This follows the collapse at trial of the fifth investigation into Daniel Morgan's violent death, and publication of the official Report into how and why the trial collapsed.  (Confusingly, by a strange coincidences, one of the counsel at trial was 'Jonathan Rees QC')

The Cook/Hames Surveillance:  Two people amongst those arrested in 2012 have previously been reported to have connection or involvement with the obtaining of information and surveillance of Dave Cook and Jacqui Hames in 2002.  Both targets were then serving Met police officers, and Dave Cook at the time was an investigating officer on the fourth investigation into Daniel Morgan's murder.  Two others, Alex Marunchak of News International and Sid Fillery, are not known to have been arrested for any Hackgate allegations. Jonathan Rees, Fillery's former business partner, was in prison at the time of the possible conspiracy.

However, it is now known formally that the Cook/Hames surveillance, and the subsequent confrontation at Scotland Yard with Rebekah Brooks, IS being investigated. This is acknowledged by the Metropolitan Police here (Q28), which is an informative read.

Additionally, included are extensive questions on Daniel Morgan's murder (Q40 Daniel Morgan). These questions are not answered publically, presumably so as not to prejudice the forensic review or any possible future arrests.

A Senior Met officer has apparently made a court appearance in relation to an unknown prosecution.  As there are court-imposed reporting restrictions imposed till October, there is no public knowledge who he (or indeed she...) might be.  One national journalist observed on Twitter, following a list of CPS Operation Weeting charges on July 24th: 
and finally... charges against a quite senior Met Police officer remain secret #openjusticemyarse
The same day another national journalist, whose specialisms include writing on Hackgate, tweeted
A very senior police officer is accused of breaking the law in an area which I cover, but I can't tell you who they are due to a court order...
...But I can tell you it sounds very interesting. Roll on October.
Obviously, these tweets may be merely a plausible coincidence of timing and could be utterly unrelated to Hackgate.

The most recent Operation Tuleta arrests of named and unnamed Sun journalists have been accompanied by Met statements to the effect that they
... relate to a suspected conspiracy involving the gathering of data from stolen mobile phones and is not about seeking journalists to reveal confidential sources in relation to information that has been obtained legitimately.
It is unknown whether the mobile phones involved were allegedly stolen at random, or whether the alleged conspiracy targeted specific mobile phones, potentially stolen to order.  Sue Akers third appearance at the Leveson Inquiry made a short reference to further Operation Tuleta initiatives which may range nationwide.

New allegations/News Corp:  Lastly there is the known unknown of new allegations of wrongdoing being countered by Michael Silverleaf QC on behalf of News Corporation.
The details of the allegations, which could be used to seek punitive damages, should be kept from the public unless they are approved at a Sept. 7 hearing and added to the victims’ so- called generic claims, Judge Geoffrey Vos said
Silverleaf said, "The claims outline “generalized activities which we think are unsustainable...They may change the approach we are taking to the case."  These new allegations could well be connected to the new information, alleged by victims' legal representatives, that
News Corp failed for months to disclose in civil litigation an executive’s e-mail with instructions on hacking the mobile-phone voice mail of a “well-known person. 
How far these 'known unknowns' might reveal themselves over the next few months will continue to make Hackgate very engaging.

Related Posts
Hackgate for Beginners
Where Now For The Motorman Files?
Hackgate - Major Upcoming Events

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

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