Wednesday 31 October 2012

Hackgate - Andre Baker - A Hackgate Footnote?

The latest from my regular contributor.

Readers of these Brown Moses posts on Hackgate may remember a recent post - 'News Corp - Diplomatic Immunity?' It offered a different perspective regarding politicians subjected to News International 'dark arts' - shifting the focus from WHO to WHAT Offices of State they held at the time they were allegedly hacked, burgled or put under surveillance. This current article is an experiment in doing the reverse - shifting the focus from WHAT law enforcement office was held to WHO?

The starting point is a small gathering in a side office at Scotland Yard - convened to confront Rebekah Wade and ask why the News of the World (NOTW) had apparently undertaken surveillance of a Metropoltan Police (MET) officer investigating the barbaric axe murder of Daniel Morgan.   At the meeting were Rebekah Wade, Dick Federcio, the MET officer himself Dave Cook, and Cook's boss Commander Andre Baker.

But WHO is Andre BAKER?  And what are his connections to the complex Hackgate saga?

Andre (Andy) BAKER has had a lengthy career in the MET.  He joined in 1975 and rose through the ranks in posts throughout London, including notoriously tough beats in South East London around Lewisham, Eltham and Catford. 

October 2001 He was promoted to the rank of Commander, Serious Crime Directorate (Homicide). As such, he would have been well aware that three previous investigations into Daniel Morgan's murder had been abortive, and that one of those investigations had involved MET bugging conversations of suspects (Operation Nigeria) - eavesdropping on apparently corrupt procurement of information by NOTW.

21 March 2002  Milly Dowler disappeared from Walton-on-Thames.  Surrey Police started their abduction - then murder - inquiry.  The MET Serious Crime (Homicide) - under Commander Andre BAKER - liaised closely with Surrey Police in case Milly's murder might be linked to suspects in other London murder investigations.

It is not known if Surrey Police at that time apprised Andre BAKER and his team that NOTW had hacked Milly Dowler's phone.  If Surrey Police did, then this knowledge would have added considerably to Commander BAKER's growing intelligence on the 'dark arts' and NOTW.

25 June 2002  Detective Chief Superintendent Dave Cook appeared on BBC Crimewatch to appeal for any information on the murder of Daniel Morgan.

10 July 2002  Cook noted an unfamiliar parked van outside his home. It tailed him whilst he drove his children to school. His then wife, Jacqui Hames, later noticed photographs of their house being taken surreptitiously from a parked vehicle. Further investigations by fellow MET officers are alleged to have connected NotW to this covert surveillance.  The MET were concerned enough to give the Cook-Hames family witness protection status and additional security.

9 January 2003  The confrontation at Scotland Yard.   Dick Fedorcio arranged the meeting, at the request of Andre BAKER.  As Fedorcio described it (Evidence to the Leveson Inquiry p54)
Commander Baker was doing it because of his concerns about Mr Cook's concerns, really. It wasn't about taking any action against the News of the World; it was to help Mr Cook understand and come to terms with what had gone on. That was how Commander Baker described to me, as a welfare meeting, looking after a member of his staff
At a subsequent Metropolitan Police Authority meeting (the then MET oversight body) in 2011, a Member understandably asked why (MPA: Strategic and Operational Policing Committee minutes -14-Jul-11 p4)
... no further action was taken. He asked: first, who took the decision to proceed in that way - a conversation with the editor but no further action - and were then Commissioner or Deputy involved or informed? Secondly, were any other senior officers involved or informed? And finally, would John Yates' team who reinvestigated the Daniel Morgan murder have known?
The MPA were advised by the MET Acting Commissioner that no public response could be made as the Cook-Hames alleged surveillance was now under active investigation.

November 2004  Levi Bellfield arrested in west London on suspicion of murdering French student Amelie DelaGrange.  Commander BAKER said "There were reasonable grounds to arrest this individual" . A Daily Mail report added, "detectives have previously linked the murder to five other attacks in south-west London."  Publicly at least, no connection was yet made with the Surrey murder of Milly Dowler.

2006  As a consequence of Operation Motorman uncovering prima facie Data Protection Act breaches by journalists of national newspapers (including NOTW), the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) published 'What Price Privacy' and 'What Price Privacy Now?'  These two Reports (here and here) to Parliament and relevant law enforcement bodies detailed industrial scale data procurement by national newspaper titles from private investigators.  The ICO Commissioner also informed the Press Complaints Commission that the ICO would have no hesitation in prosecuting any journalists suspected of similar data breaches in future.

2006-7  Operation Caryatid - the investigation of phone hacking of the royal household by NOTW's Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. As the sheer volume and extent of phone hacking became apparent, the MET Operation Caryatid team liaised with and briefed other relevant law enforcement agencies (para 72) - including the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

By this time (from January 2006), the Deputy Director of SOCA was Andre BAKER.

2006-07 was clearly a busy time.  The Haute de la Garenne child abuse scandal in Jersey (in which Jimmy Savile is now implicated) needed a mainland, ACPO-nominated authority to oversee the investigation. Former MET Homicide Commander, Andre BAKER took up the role in addition to his Deputy Director of SOCA duties. This necessitated liaison with Jersey States police and several visits to Jersey.  The controversial Haute de la Garenne investigation was ramped up by lurid, sensationalised  press reporting. A subsequent Review observed (final para)
The approach taken by the States of Jersey Police to releasing information about the teeth found was unusual, not consistent with normal working practice in the UK and encouraged further media reporting and speculation.
2007-09 At the same time, back on the mainland, Surrey Police were still pursuing the Milly Dowler murder investigation as well as allegations of sexual abuse by victims of Jimmy Savile.  Just as knowledge of the NOTW Dowler phone hacking was apparently not shared by Surrey with the MET, it seems perhaps the Surrey team investigating Savile were not informed of crucial information known to MET and Jersey police forces.

Throughout this period, some of the national press were critical of police crime-fighting.  For example, The Sun's crime reporter, Mike Sullivan, castigated Andre BAKER, the MET, and Surrey Police for failing to catch the killers of several murder victims - including Milly Dowler.

2007-08 SOCA researched and complied an intelligence report entitled 'The Rogue Element of the Private Investigation Industry'.  It highlighted the corrosive effect of press collusion in illegal practices such as phone hacking, Police National Computer abuse, computer hacking, corruption, vehicle tracking, surveillance etc etc.

2005-09  Operation Millipede.  This was a lengthy SOCA investigation into a network of private investigators' blagging and computer hacking.  It led to four arrests in 2009 and four convictions in Feb 2012.

July 2009 John Yates undertook an 8 hour consideration of Operation Caryatid before concluding there was no necessity to re-open the investigation.  Two days later, Yates received a written briefing from two of the original Caryatid investigating officers. It reiterated that "briefings of the emerging security risks in relation to mobile phone voicemails were given to SCDI4, The Security Service, Cabinet Office, The Royal Household and SOCA."  (p6)

2010-11  First a New York Times report on phone hacking, then Nick Davies' Guardian exposé of NOTW's hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile phone prompted demand for an independent, judge led Inquiry.  Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry into 'Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press' started in October 2011.

June 2011  Serial killer Levi Bellfield is finally convicted of the murder of Milly Dowler.

2012  BAKER, Deputy Director of SOCA, moves to another post as Deputy Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) where he will probably be involved with police investigations into the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Andre BAKER will no doubt be grateful that he was not called to give evidence to Leveson, and that his name is relegated to a footnote in the history of Hackgate - a mere bit player at that small, informal Scotland Yard meeting with Rebekah Wade.

Related Articles
Hackgate - Ten To Watch For
Hackgate - Dear Surrey Police
Hackgate - The John Boyall Files
One Rogue Email And The Indestructible Archive 
John Yates And Neil Wallis - A Mutual Understanding
Alex Marunchak - Presumed Innocent

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1 comment:

  1. Hackgate may well be renamed Noncegate if and when Derek Haslam's role is made light. It is a lose-lose situation for New Scotland Yard whom I have a meeting with soon, with my solicitor riding shotgun. The whole Morgan case is murky, "worshipful brothers" are involved and there is a link to the Brecqhou owning BNP money laundering Barclay Bros of Daily Telegraph notoriety.