Thursday 7 March 2013

Hackgate - Elveden: Murdoch Or King Cnut?

The latest from my regular contributor.

Noticed the upsurge in Elveden arrests and charges recently?  After a marked hiatus, it's like a dam has burst.

It started as a trickle which became a stream (Sue Akers) -
Operation Elveden began on 20 June 2011 when News International disclosed material to the Metropolitan Police Service that indicated that police officers had allegedly been receiving cash/cheque payments from journalists from the News of the World for the provision of confidential information. 
But its original 2011 terms of reference widened as the investigatory trickle built into a torrent throughout 2012 of arrests of (mainly Sun) journalists, public officials, prison and police officers.  2013 has so far seen the first Elveden conviction and imprisonment (April Casburn) and a wave of charges.  Both the number and nature of arrests are remarkable. (Hat Tip to Martin Hickman for the best lists of arrests/charges/etc).

Amongst News International arrests are royal editor(s), editor(s), sundry senior executives, managing editor(s), news editor, crime editor, executive editor, deputy editor, chief reporter, deputy news editor, defence editor, chief foreign correspondent etc.  These are not low-level roles or freelancers cutting corners.

Police arrests are also worth analysis: to date, no less than FOUR from MET Specialist Crimes & Special Operations alone, plus two senior officers from the City of London force.  The most recent (see here, Daily Mail) is a former Assistant Commissioner and thus the first (but perhaps not the last) ACPO rank arrest for suspected leaking of unauthorised information.  So police arrests are creeping up the 'food chain' too.  Little wonder that Sean O'Neill of the Times wryly commented on the subject
Certainly Elveden is (so far) the biggest threat to parent company News Corp (see here) regarding potential corporate and US prosecutions.

And there is a detectable sense of urgency about recent News Corp manoevring - closing their phone hacking compensation scheme, frantic settling of as many civil actions as possible in a rearguard action to prevent further revelations in open court.  It's almost as if defensive embankments have crumbled and legal arguments on admissibility of key evidence (for example, email data pools) have been decided so the upstream log-jam delaying court cases has been prised wide open.

The timing of Rupert Murdoch's reported pep talk to arrested journalists is interesting too (Guardian)
It is understood the News Corporation chairman and chief executive and Sun proprietor met with the journalists on Wednesday at News International's Wapping headquarters in east London to allay concerns that their careers and futures have been left in limbo as they continue to be rebailed without knowing if they are going to be charged..... Sources say Murdoch vowed to continue to pay the arrestees' legal fees and offer whatever support was needed. However he said he could not, for legal reasons, tell them what would happen with regard to their employment if any were charged and found guilty.
Whatever the flood of recent developments, we may know more about the consequences quite quickly.

Tomorrow (Friday March 8th) is going to be a busy day for Operation Elveden at the Central Criminal Court (aka the Old Bailey)

Court No 1, sitting from 9.30am (Court Listing


Plea and Case Management    
U20130197 Alan TIERNEY    
(Surrey Police officer)

U20130198  Richard TRUNKFIELD 
(Prison Operational Support Officer at HMP Woodhill, a high security category A men's prison)

Southwark Crown Court Case    
For Preliminary Hearing    
U20130199  FLATTLEY (MET police officer)  &
WHEELER (Sun journalist)

NOT BEFORE 10:00 am    
Plea and Case Management    
Rebekah BROOKS (the Sun)
John KAY  (the Sun)  & 
Bettina JORDAN-BARBER  (Ministry of Defence official)

Andy COULSON (News of the World) &
Clive GOODMAN (News of the World)

It looks increasingly like Rupert Murdoch can't play King Cnut much longer and things aren't going swimmingly.

Related Articles
Hackgate - Elveden - Murdoch's Catch 22
Hackgate - "Snakes And Ladders" At The Met
Hackgate - April Casburn's Conviction - Myths And Misconceptions
Hackgate - Varec Revisited - Dissent In The Ranks
Hackgate - Sue Akers' Swansong
Hackgate - "Newsdesk Here, Kelvin Speaking..."
Hackgate - Andre Baker - A Hackgate Footnote?

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