Wednesday 30 May 2012

Andy Coulson's Schadenfreude

From Vim on the Something Awful forums:

I now remember reading a story in The Sun many years ago the day or so after Hugh Grant's arrest for solicitation. It was in the showbiz page (Bizarre?), which was then being edited by Andy Coulson.

Basically, The Sun went to town tearing Grant apart, their vendetta seemingly stemming from a (then) recent occasion at a film premier/showbiz event when Grant was asked for a quote by a reporter from The Sun (in fact, it could well have been Coulson himself). Grant apparently said "The Sun? I don't think so" before 'swanning off' with Liz Hurley.

And Coulson wrote in the showbiz page that when news broke of Grant's arrest, he (Coulson) did a little dance in the Sun's office, crying out "There is a God!".

Tonight, I hope Hugh Grant affords himself a little smile and thinks "There is a God"
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Fresh Attacks on Houla - Updated May 31st

This page contains images some people may finding upsetting.

MAY 31ST UPDATE - Lots of new videos added at the bottom of this post.

2ND UPDATE - Three new videos added to the bottom of this post.

UPDATED - New videos at the bottom of this post.

Following a visit by the UN and ICRC to Houla today there's been reports of fresh shelling and more dead and injured in Houla.  It's difficult not to see this as the Assad regime thumbing their nose at the international community after their condemnation of the Houla Massacre.  Here's some of the videos posted online following the events of today:

May 30th 2012 – Crops burning in Houla, allegedly set on fire by Assad's forces

May 30th 2012 – A abandoned Assad checkpoint in Houla

May 30th 2012 – Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News (UK) interviewing Houla citizens

May 30th 2012 – More filming by Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News

May 30th 2012 – Injuries from today's shelling of Houla

May 30th 2012 – More injuries from today's shelling

May 30th 2012 – More injuries from today's shelling

May 30th 2012 – The sounds of gunfire and shelling at night in Houla

May 30th 2012 – GRAPHIC – Partly decapitated victim of shelling Houla

May 30th 2012 – More wounded from today's shelling

May 30th 2012 – GRAPHIC – A Houla citizen killed in shelling

May 30th 2012 – GRAPHIC – The remains of the head of someone killed in today's shelling

UPDATE - New videos

May 30th 2012 – UN observers being shown the site of a mass killing in Houla

May 30th 2012 – UN observers being shown another site of a mass killing

May 30th 2012 – Another mass killing site shown to UN observers

May 30th 2012 – An armoured vehicle firing at Houla

May 30th 2012 – More footage of armoured vehicles firing at Houla

May 30th 2012 – Houla being hit by tanks

UPDATE 2 - Three new videos

May 30th 2012 – A tiny child, survivor of the Houla Massacre

May 30th 2012 – UN observers visit another massacre site

May 30th 2012 – A 5th video from the UN observer visiting the scene of mass killing in Houla

UPDATE 3 - One new video

May 30th 2012 – A doctor explains the injuries received by one of the victims of today's shelling


May 31st 2012 – GRAPHIC – The badly damaged body of another of victim in Houla

May 31st 2012 – Damage caused by artillery strikes on Houla

May 31st 2012 – A wounded Houla resident in need of urgent medical assistance

May 31st 2012 – The funeral of Muhammad and Ahmed Salama

May 31st 2012 – A huge funeral procession from Muhammed and Ahmed Salama

May 30th 2012 – A child survivor of the Houla Massacre talking to a UN observer

May 31st 2012 – A boy who appears to have been shot through the chest bleeding to death

May 30th 2012 – More wounded from today's shelling

May 30th 2012 – Damage to a mosque caused by shelling

May 30th 2012 – A tour of damage caused by shelling

The following channels are posting videos from Houla:

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

Why Jeremy Hunt is Doomed

Tomorrow, the event Leveson watchers have been anticipating for the last few weeks will arrive, the appearance of Jeremy Hunt at the Leveson Inquiry.  After appearances by his former Special Adviser Adam Smith, his BSkyB predecessor Vince Cable, and his best friend for life and News Corp lobbyist Fred Michel it seems Mr Jay is going to have a lot of difficult questions for Hunt to answer. 
There can be little doubt that among these questions there will be a barrage of questions about his relationship with Fred Michel, the closeness of which was highlighted when the text messages between the two were released to the Leveson Inquiry.  There also remains the more important question of whether or not Hunt misled Parliament when he claimed he had “zero” communication with Fred Michel during the bid process, after his statement was apparently contradicted by a letter written by his permanent secretary, Jonathan Stephens which was seen by the Independent on Sunday.
There’s also further questions about over whether or not he misled Parliament when he told MPs in March 11th 2011 that “We are publishing all the documents relating to all the meetings – all the consultation documents, all the submissions we received, all the exchanges between my department and News Corporation”, when at the end of April 2012 further email exchanges were given to the Leveson Inquiry showing that this was not the case.
Then there’s Adam Smith, the special adviser who was thrown to the lions by Cameron and Hunt in the hope they could sneak by while he was being chewed on.  Ed Miliband claims that Jeremy Hunt broke the ministerial code three times, with calls for Hunt to be investigated other the claims.  Lord Leveson has said he will not rule on whether or not he broke the ministerial code, but no doubt Mr Jay will have plenty to ask Hunt about events surrounding those claims.  It seems that the section of the code that says "The responsibility for the management and conduct of special advisers, including discipline, rests with the Minister who made the appointment" may yet be his undoing.
And today Vince Cable provided the cherry on the top of the Hunt Ruination Cake by telling the Leveson Inquiry that he could not take calls from Fred Michel, the Murdoch lobbyist, and refused to meet James Murdoch because of 'legal risks', a concern that appears to have escaped Jeremy Hunt’s attention, and another issue he’ll get to debate with Mr Jay tomorrow.
So it’s no wonder there’s already rumours of his resignation by the weekend, and with a long and gruelling day ahead of him at the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow he might be thankful for it all to come to an end.
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

The Myth of "Libya Style" Military Intervention in Syria

After the events of the last weekend in Houla and the international reaction that followed there’s been fresh calls (and fears) from some quarters for “Libya Style” military intervention in Syria.  “Libya Style” intervention should be taken to mean using overwhelming air superiority to first destroy air defences in the country, establishing a no-drive/no-fly zone, and targeting military infrastructure.
Ignoring the various reports of Russia and China stating their opposition to military action, and the British foreign secretary William Hague stating the only alternative to Kofi Annan’s peace place being civil war and collapse, would Libya Style intervention even be viable in Syria? 
To begin with let’s look at the Libyan military intervention.  Libya has around 6 million citizens, with the vast majority living in coastal cities, including Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi.  The military consisted of around 50,000 soldiers, around half of which were conscripts, and despite looking good on paper much of Gaddafi’s military equipment was found to be rusting in depots in the middle of nowhere, useless for combat operations.
So we have a small and poorly equipped army, the majority of the population living on coastal cities allowing for carrier operations and long range air operations from bases in Europe, and an outdated air defence system.  On top of that we have 3 major locations, Benghazi, Misrata, and the Nafusa Mountains which are all in the middle of a major rebellion, and already building up stockpiles of weapons and vehicles.
Military intervention begins, and the air defence network is destroyed in days, with the rusting Libyan air force unable to put up any sort of fight against the coalition’s air far superior air power.  At that point the Libyan rebels effectively have their own air force to support advances into Gaddafi controlled territory, with attempts by Gaddafi’s armed forces to capture towns foiled by coalition air strikes on their positions.
Even then it takes seven months for the conflict to be over, exposing the weaknesses in NATO’s supply chains and their reliance on the US to keep the war machine supplied in missiles and bombs.  It’s clear that without the US playing a major role in operations that the coalition simply would have just ran out of bombs a few months into the conflict.
So let’s look at Libya Style intervention in Syria.  First of all the coalition would need to wipe out the Syrian air defence system, as we saw in Libya.  Recently Deputy Chief of General Staff Yair Naveh of the IAF warned that Syria had "invested $3 billion toward its build up" of air defence systems, and back in March Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, told US senators that Syria had advanced air defence weapons provided to them by Russia, saying it would make it difficult to establish a no-fly zone in Syria.  This claim was countered by Akil Hashem, a former Syrian general, who told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Syrian defences under a western attack would "collapse right away”.  However, it seems that in these matters the opinion of those doing the bombing counts more than the opinion of those who want the bombing to happen.
The next problem is the Syrian rebels don’t control vast areas in the same way that the Libyan rebels did.  Despite press reports back in February comparing Homs to Benghazi only parts of Homs were rebelling, with other areas still loyal to Assad, or at least not siding with the rebels.  This is a pattern seen across Syria, and you just have to look at some of the reports on the events in Houla to see why this could be a problem for any Libya Style military intervention.  Some reports suggest that the armed men who went into Houla were shabiha drawn from local Alawite villages, and Homs was described as being divided along sectarian lines by the fighting.  As much as I would like to imagine that the Syrian people can unify against the Assad regime and ignore sectarian divisions I don’t really think that’s likely to happen, especially as it seems likely that as the conflict goes on the Assad regime will be more likely to focus on sectarian issues to shore up support, and we just have to look at Tawergha and other towns that found themselves on the losing side after taking part in a brutal conflict.
Even ignoring the above major issues there would still need to be a long bombing campaign, against a much larger and better equipped army, and it took a 7 month bombing campaign in Libya, one that stretched coalition resources, and was thankfully shortened due to a fantastically executed plan to capture Tripoli, which included at least one major defection that allowed rebel forces to walk into the city with minimal casualties.  Without that the intervention could have easily lasted for another 3 months while rebels forces slowly fought their way into Tripoli, and if Sirte is anything to go by, destroying much of it in the process.  I don’t believe we can expect that Libya Style intervention in Syria will be over as quickly, and no doubt it would require much greater resources even to attempt that, most of which would come from the US, something that seems unlikely in an election year.
Where does that leave Syria?  Some people have called for safe zones to be established, but it seems impossible that the Assad regime would agree to this when they are describing rebels as terrorists, so again we’d be back to using military intervention to establish a no-fly no-drive zone.  Then we aren’t talking about Libya Style intervention anymore, but something much more significant and potentially dangerous to both Syria and the wider region. 
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at

Sunday 27 May 2012

Syria - New Videos From the Houla Massacre

Warning - This post links to extremely graphic images.

Following from my live blog covering the Houla Massacre a large number of new videos have been uploaded from Houla, here's a selection.

May 25th 2012 - GRAPHIC - A large number of dead children, so with their hands tied together - UPDATE - Having discussed this with a few people it appears the hands are tied together to keep them close to the body so they are easier to bury once rigor mortis sets in.

May 25th 2012 – GRAPHIC - A man with destroyed hand receives treatment

May 25th 2012 - Shortly after the shelling began

May 26th 2012 - Three videos showing and interviewing survivors of the massacre who fled Houla (Arabic)

May 26th 2012 - An interview with one of the children who survived the massacre (Arabic)

May 26th 2012 – Houla resident talks about the massacre (Arabic)

May 26th 2012 – UN inspector convoy arriving in Houla

May 26th 2012 – Crowds surrounding UN inspectors are they arrive in Houla

May 26th 2012 – Crowds chanting against Assad as UN inspectors walk through Houla

May 26th 2012 – An activists talk to the camera (in Arabic) while UN inspectors are shown rows of dead bodies

May 26th 2012 – UN inspectors being shown the dead in Houla

May 26th 2012 – Shrouded corpses ready to be buried in a mass grave

May 26th 2012 – A relative of one of the victims says goodbye to her loved one

May 26th 2012 – A mass grave for the victims of the massacre being prepared

May 26th 2012 - A funeral for the victims of the massacre, showing one of the mass graves they are buried in, with English subtitles

May 26th 2012 – Resident fleeing Houla in fear of another massacre

May 26th 2012 – A tour of a damage mosque in Houla

May 26th 2012 – A tour of the damage done to Houla by Assad's forces

May 27th – An activist shows a newly dug mass grave for more victims of the massacre

It would be extremely useful if anyone who knows Arabic could translate these, I'll add the translations underneath the video when done.

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

Friday 25 May 2012

Syria - The Houla Massacre

May 31st update - Since this post was made more facts have become available thanks to the work of UN observers, HRW, AI and Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News.  On the night of the events I was unable to find any pictorial or video evidence of throats being cut, but Alex Thomson reported seeing videos of those injures when he visited Houla.  The UN has also reported on the number dead as 108 people, included 49 children and 34 women, the vast majority of which were killed close up, not by shelling.

May 30th update - A new attack took place today, you can find details here.

May 27th update - All the latest videos from the past 24 hours can be found on this post.

Coverage of the night's events can be found at the bottom of this post.

WARNING - This post may contain extremely graphic and distressing images.

Over the last few hours there's been report via Twitter of a massacre in Houla, a village near Homs in Syria.  The number of dead varies greatly depending on reports, but from videos posted on Youtube it seem apparent many have been killed, including a very large number of children.


Injured baby receiving treatment

Dead man

Two dead men

Room with about a dozen shrouded corpses

Another room (or possibly the same as above) with a dozen shrouded corpses of men, women and children

Room with about a dozen dead women and children

Around a dozen dead small children with injuries that appear to be from shrapnel

Injured civilian with a missing hand

A pile of corpses

While it's difficult to be sure of exact numbers it's clear a large number of civilians have died, apparently from shelling, including at least a dozen children if not more.  Despite some claims there's no evidence anyone has had their throat cut.

The following channels are posting videos from Houla:

There's now a live stream from Houla on
Live Stream

Thanku4theAnger has tweeted about the UN response:
Hadi AbdAllah called head of UN monitors about HoulaMassacre. His reply "Regime does not allow us to travel at night"
Hadi Abdallah : We have more than 300 injured dying infront of us & we can't even provide basic emergency care  
NMSyria has tweeted about the response to the massacre across Syria
Demonstrations have started in #Damascus, #Daraa,and #Idlib to condemn the massacre in Houla.
23:34 BST - Live stream of protest in Rukn Eddine neighbourhood of Damascus for Houla massacre via @HamaEcho

23:36 BST - Video of a protest in Qusair, Homs tonight supporting Houla via @HamaEcho

23:38 BST - Live stream of a protest in Daraa in solidarity with Houla via @HamaEcho

23:40 BST - Facebook page in Arabic linking to various videos from Houla

23:41 BST - Video of a protest Talbisah, Homs in solidarity with Houla tonight via @HamaEcho

23:45 BST - Live stream of a protest in Old Homs tonight in support of Houla via @HamaEcho

23:46 BSTHamaEcho reports "Protests have also started in Midan and Tadamon neighbourhoods of Damascus tonight in support of Houla."

23:49 BST - NMSyria is tweeting reports of heavy gunfire in the Hamme, Damascus, and Atareb, Aleppo

23:52 BST -Michael Nahum tweeted that the first English subtitled video of the massacre has been posted online here.

23:54 BST - A new video of victims of the Houla Massacre has been posted online here.

23:57 BST - @Adbulnafia tweeted a graphic image of a child with a major neck injury.

23:58 BST - @HamaEcho tweets "Protests in Mazzeh, Jobar, Qadam, Assali, Hajar Aswad, Shaghour, Barzeh, Midan & Tadamon neighbourhoods for Houla tonight"

00:01 BST - @HamaEcho tweets "Protest and takbir campaign started in Old Damascus in the heart of the city in response to Houla massacre"

00:04 BST - @HamaEcho tweets a video of "Jouret al-Shayyah neighbourhood of taking an oath of victory or death in support Houla tonight"

00:07 BST - Um Farouk tweets a video of "Protest chanting tonight for in "

00:10 BST - NMSyria tweets "#Damascus Suburbs: Jdeidet Artouz: A nighttime demonstration is taking place now in solidarity with the martyrs with #HoulaMassacre #Syria" and "Massive demonstration in Tadamon, #Damascus in solidarity with #Houla. #Homs #Syria"

00:13 BST - @Thanku4theAnger tweets "Breaking: Very heavy clashes being reported across Homs now #Syria"

00:20 BST - Via Facebook "Idlib: Massive Demonstration in Ariha in Solidarity with Houla"

00:21 BST Translation of an interview with Activist Hadi Abdulla on Al Jazeera Arabic:
Testimony of Activist Hadi Abdulla on Al Jazeera, speaking about the massacres committed by the Syrian Regime against the civilians on 25 May 2012..

Three massacres were committed in AlHola City, and more are being committed now
76martyrs are confirmed in AlHola alone, and more than 300 wounded
AlHola city has been under shelling for more than 12 hours

Shooting started at demonstration with bullets and artillery, and shelling has not stopped for more than 12 hours
Hundreds of missiles hit the civilian homes, causing the burning of hundreds of them

Assad thugs (Shabeeha) supported by the security gangs attached the houses located at the edges of AlHola city, and committed field execution against the civilians, they slaughtered them with knives, most of the killed are children.

I called up to the UN monitors and begged them to come to AlHola, they promised to come tomorrow morning
I asked the UN monitors to stop the shelling for only half an hour.

The UN monitors are sleeping now, while the massacres are being committe

We used to count the number of martyrs, but now, we are counting the number of families slaughtered
The whole world help killing the Syrian, not only the Syrian regime

We have many martyrs and wounded that we could not reach them because of the continuous shelling, and the cut-off of electricity

We are still discovering more massacres in the city
The Syrian regime is now killing under the nose of the whole world and in the name of the UN monitors
00:32 BST @ALGRGOR tweeted "Homs: Houla: Fatima Ahmad Abdel-Aal was martyred as she was fleeing the shelling in town"

00:37 BST Shaista Aziz tweets "Rami Abdel Rahman,Syrian Observatory for Human Rights "It was a real massacre that took place - UN observers are just staying silent" "

00:41 BST New video posted of an injured baby, probably a few months old, bandaged and with appears to be a chest drain.

00:45 BST Summary report Homs The Syrian Revolution General Commission - Massacre in Al Houleh 25/05/2012
The Friday protests of Al Houleh bring about a fear to the regime as the area shakes with chants and rises against oppression. The surrounding suburbs of Al Houleh are pro-Assad and continue to fire onto protests using shells to disperse protests but also damaging homes of civilians and defectors.

Today, they repeated the same thing, homes were shelled and this led to dozens of injuries and a number of martyrs. The pro-regime suburbs used artillery, Shilka [anti-aircraft], mortar shells, machine guns, BMP and tank shells on civilian homes. The Free Syrian Army began to defend the civilians thus large clashes took place at the regime checkpoints leading to a loss of lives and also weaponry. The shelling continued after midday for more than 7 hours and continues till now. This resulted in people escaping as also several homes fell in on their inhabitants. A refugee shelter was hit which was sheltering more than 200 families and this led to dozens of deaths and injuries, some of the martyrs are known and others are being confirmed.

The shabeeha [regime thugs] from pro-Assad areas burnt the fields that belong to the civilians in an attempt to further destroy their lives. The regime shabeeha [thugs] led a sectarian attack on civilians in Al Houleh, storming homes that lie at the edges of Taldaw. The shabeeha came from Alqabo, Alsheneyeh and Feleh suburbs and killed several women, children and men with names still arriving but it has exceeded 50. The Al-Kurdi family has been found killed entirely in Aqrab village with the bodies not reachable yet due to the continued shelling. Names arrived from the Alkurdi massacre are father Mahmoud Alkurdi, his sons Fadi Alkurdi, Mohamad Alkurdi and grandson Omar Alkurdi. His mother is in a critical condition [Zainab Arooq]. Their bodies were found with severe torture marks and then executed with knives. This is the typical acts of pro-regime shabeeha [thugs]. The field hospitals can no longer cope as injuries and dead flood in by the minute.

The area is still being bombarded by rockets that are targeting residential houses. The pace of the shelling is getting fiercer by the minute. According to witnesses near the rocket launchers stationed near Kherbet Al Sowda, rockets are fired from there to the north (to Al Houleh). The area is witnessing mass exodus too as civilians are leaving Al Houleh, trying to take refuge in safer areas.
More details on the original page.

00:55 BST - @Thanku4theAnger tweets "Houla: Reports of mass defection of 50 soldiers in Homs to join FSA tonight"

01:08 BST - @LCCSY posts a video of "Night time Demonstration to Show Solidarity with Houla in Jdeidet Artouz"

01:17 BST - Via LCCSy's Facebook page: "Raqqa: A demonstration with female participation started on al-Wadi street in solidarity with Houla; participants condemned the regime's massacre"

That's it from me, as always I highly recommend following @HamaEcho, @NMSyria, @tweetsforpeace and @Thanku4theAnger on Twitter for the latest information from Syria.

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

Hackgate for Beginners - Controversial Cops and News Corp.

During the Hackgate Scandal there have been a number of police officers linked to News Corp.  Here’s a few key names you might see popping up when following the Hackgate Scandal:
Andy Hayman – A former Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at London's Metropolitan Police, resigning in December 2007 following allegations about expense claims and alleged improper conduct with a female member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and a female sergeant.  After his resignation he would face criticism, along with Sir Ian Blair, from the press and Independent Police Complaints Commission over the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.
During Operation Caryatid, the investigation into the interception of phone messages at Clarence House by journalists from the News of the World, the officer in charge of the investigation reported to Andy Hayman.  Hayman told the Home Affairs Select Committee in July 2011 that he had met with News International executives during the investigation, something he considered as not unusual as it would have been odd if he had cancelled the dinner.
The Guardian reported that some police sources said it was “unfortunate” that Andy Hayman went on to work for News International as a columnist for The Times, where even with his knowledge of Operation Caryatid he wrote that there were “perhaps a handful” of hacking victims.
John Yates - A former Assistant Commissioner in the London Metropolitan Police Service, who resigned in July 2011 over criticism of a July 2009 review of Operation Caryatid, in which he decided in one 8 hour sessions that there was no fresh material that could lead to convictions. 
John Yates began to receive criticism when the House of Commons home affairs committee began to look into the way in which the review had been carried out, with a number of statements made by John Yates about the review were contradicted by the evidence of the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer.  He received further criticism when it was revealed that he, Sir Ian Blair, Andy Hayman, and Paul Stephenson had attended a number of meals with representative from various News International newspaper titles around the time of the review. 
In a July 9th 2011 interview with the Sunday Telegraph he expressed “extreme regret” for failing in the initial phone hacking inquiry, but dismissed any suggestion of corruption or improper relationships on his part.  On July 18th 2011 he announced his resignation in a brief statement.
In May 2012 a report into phone hacking by the House of Commons select committee found that John Yates and Keri Starmer were culpable for failing to properly investigate evidence of phone hacking when it was first brought to their attention during the Operation Caryatid investigation.  The report concluded: "The police at that time had no interest or willingness to uncover the full extent of the phone-hacking which had taken place."
Paul Stephenson – The former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who resigned after questions were asked about his relationship with former News International journalist Neil Wallis, who was arrested in July 2011 as part of Operation Weeting.
Paul Stephenson first met Wallis in 2006 during his time at the News of the World, and hired Neil Wallis to provide “strategic communication advice and support” to the Metropolitan Police on a part time basis from October 2009 to September 2010 while the Met's Deputy Director of Public Affairs was on extended sick leave.  Among other things this involved advising the assistant commissioner at the time, John Yates, who had recently reviewed Operation Caryatid in July 2009.
Questions about Neil Wallis’s relationship with the Metropolitan Police began went it emerged that he had worked for the police.  It was revealed that Paul Stephenson had met or dined with Neil Wallis on eight separate occasions between 2006 and 2010, more than any senior executive or journalist on any other newspapers, and that he had accepted £12,000-worth of hospitality at a health spa for which Wallis worked as a PR consultant, and where Rebekah Brooks’ husband Charlie Brooks runs an alternative medicine "kriotherapy" centre.
On July 14th 2011 Neil Wallis was arrested as part of Operation Weeting, and on July 17th 2011 Paul Stephenson made a lengthy statement announcing his intention to resign as commissioner, saying that questions surrounding his integrity would otherwise become detrimental to the Met as a whole.
Ray Adams – A former Metropolitan police commander who left the Metropolitan Police and joined the News Corp owned subsidiary NDS UK Ltd after a brief stint at Kroll. 
In July 1987 Adams was being interviewed by police corruption investigators when his close associate DC Alan “Taffy” Holmes shot himself.  DC Holmes was the corrupt police officer who Michael Gillard and Laurie Flynn claim in their book on police corruption “The Untouchables” had been working with the recently murdered Daniel Morgan to expose claims of police corruption that possibly involved passing information to the News of the World.
Later on Ray Adams would be involved with the Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry, and the Macpherson report into the Lawrence murder detailed suspicions held by the Lawrence family about Adam’s alleged links with Clifford Norris, the father of one of Lawrence’s murderers David Norris, and Kenneth Noye, also noting that Adams’ evidence had “strange features” to it.
In March 2012 BBC Panorama claimed that Ray Adams had worked closely with a hacker, Lee Gibling, to set up the website The House of Ill-Compute (THOiC), which was intended to gather cable and satellite hackers to one site run by Lee Gibling, and therefore under the control of Ray Adams.  Lee Gibling claimed that Ray Adams provided him with software and instructions to hack their major rival ONDigital.  Those claims were supported by documents passed on to Panorama.
Later Lee Gibling would also allege that Ray Adams used information from the THOiC website to strong arm a number of cable and satellite companies into giving up internal operational security to NDS UK Ltd, claiming that hacks on THOiC showed those companies weren’t providing adequate security to protect BSkyB’s revenue, and that unless they handed over their operational security operations to NDS BSkyB would remove their channels from those companies.  Once NDS took over operational security they used the information from THOiC to arrest various individuals hacking those companies.

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

Thursday 24 May 2012

Hackgate for Beginners - Index


Past Police Operations
Current Police Operations
The Murder of Daniel Morgan
The Leveson Inquiry
Controversial Cops and News Corp.
Who's Who & The Key Reports

[Forward to Past Police Operations]

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

Hackgate for Beginners - The Leveson Inquiry

After Operation Weeting commenced in January 2011 there began to be calls for an independent inquiry into phone hacking from a number of political and private figures, along with a number of newspapers, in particular the Guardian, who in July 4th 2011 reported that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked by News of the World journalists, who deleted voicemails left on the phone, creating a moment of false hope for her family.
With this revelation the phone hacking scandal soon became the top of news agenda, with celebrities and other public figures reacting with disgust and calling for an immediate public inquiry, and on July 6th British Prime Minister David Cameron promised that he would set up a public inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World, describing the claims in the Guardian story as “disgusting”.  Opposition leader Ed Miliband went onto say that David Cameron had failed “to react with the necessary speed” and urged him to set up a wide-ranging, judge-led public inquiry immediately.
The setting up of the Inquiry
On July 17th 2011 David Cameron set out the remit for the inquiry under the Inquiry Act 2005 (requiring witnesses to give evidence under oath), naming Lord Justice Leveson as the chairman of the inquiry, and stating that it would look into the ethics and culture of the British media as well as specific claims about phone hacking at the News of the World, the shortcomings of the initial police inquiry, and allegations of illicit payments to police by the press. 
Lord Justice Leveson appointed a panel of 6 assessors, who are experts in various areas relevant to the Inquiry, and described their role during the September 28th meeting of the Inquiry:
“I intend that each should have a central role in the work and that the final report will be a collaborative effort.  I will strive for unanimity; if any particular recommendation is not unanimous, I shall make the contrary view clear.”
He also appointed a team of 6 barristers to act as Counsel to the Inquiry, who provide legal advice to the Inquiry, as well as questioning witnesses.  If you’ve been watching the Inquiry you’ll probably be most familiar with Robert Jay QC, who regularly questions witnesses, and has built up a bit of a fan base among followers of the Leveson Inquiry.
Lord Leveson has said the inquiry will be in two parts, the first being split into four modules.  The first part will address:
And the second part will address:
The culture, practices and ethics of the press, including contacts between the press and politicians and the press and the police; it is to consider the extent to which the current regulatory regime has failed and whether there has been a failure to act upon any previous warnings about media misconduct.
The four modules that make up part one are:
The extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other media organisations or other organisations. It will also consider the extent to which any relevant police force investigated allegations relating to News International, and whether the police received corrupt payments or were otherwise complicit in misconduct.
Module 1: The relationship between the press and the public and looks at phone-hacking and other potentially illegal behaviour.
Module 2: The relationships between the press and police and the extent to which that has operated in the public interest.
Module 3: The relationship between press and politicians.
Module 4: Recommendations for a more effective policy and regulation that supports the integrity and freedom of the press while encouraging the highest ethical standards.
At the same time Lord Leveson also detailed the Inquiry’s terms of reference.
Lord Leveson also announced a series of briefing sessions would take place before the Inquiry began to provide the members of the Inquiry with factual background information that was relevant to the inquiry:
He also held a series of seminars “to enable consideration of the central public policy issues in the Inquiry’s terms of reference to be enriched by and examined from across a range of informed perspectives.”
Core participants
One key feature of the Leveson Inquiry is the assignment of Core Participant (CP) status to individuals or organisations, who can become CPs if they meet one of more of the following criteria:
  • The person played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to the matters to which the inquiry relates;
  • The person has a significant interest in an important aspect of those matters to which the inquiry relates; or
  • The person may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the inquiry proceedings or in its report.
Among other things Core Participants have a right to view witness statements from people giving evidence to the inquiry before they appear, and have the right to appoint a legal representative who may apply to the chairman to ask questions of a witness giving oral evidence to the Inquiry.  Current Core Participants include a number of newspaper groups, the Metropolitan Police, and the NUJ.  The victims are for the most part represented by David Sherborne, who you will occasionally see asking questions to various witnesses.
The Leveson Inquiry so far
Module one of the Leveson Inquiry made headlines with a raft of celebrities and high profile figures appearing and describing how they’d be harassed by the press.  The first day of Module one had the parents of Milly Dowler talking about their treatment by the press, followed by Hugh Grant, which made headlines from day one.  That that followed over the next weeks by high profile figures such as Steve Coogan, JK Rowling, Max Mosley, and Charlotte Church, among others, keeping the story in the press.  As the weeks passed media interest waned, with only the occasional absurd statements such as “privacy is for paedos” making it to the wider press. 
However, as the Inquiry has gone on a picture has been built showing the relationship between the press, politicians, and police that’s shown collusion on many levels and in a sometimes illegal fashion.  Many witnesses for organisations under the spotlight have shown they are unable to recall facts about key events, or have used such convoluted language to avoid admitting to anything under oath that they are practically unintelligible.  Due to current police investigations it’s been impossible to ask certain witnesses about events they’ve been arrested for, for example Rebekah Brooks, but more and more information is being made available which exposes criminality, corruption and sleaze at a variety of organisations, including the British government.
It would be quite impossible to cover the many developments in the Leveson Inquiry, but a number of news websites have good archives of past day’s events, in particular The Guardian and the BBC News website.

[Forward to Controversial Cops and News Corp.]
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