Friday 16 November 2012

Hackgate - Sue Akers' Swansong

The latest piece from my regular contributor.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers (Retired) has now delivered her FOURTH - and final - witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry.  Dated October 31st and 'taken as read', Akers' Hallowe'en missive updates Leveson, as promised, with current developments in the multiple MET investigations into phone and computer hacking, corruption of police and other public officials and so on.  No doubt with some sense of relief, she reminds the Leveson Inquiry
However, on 31 October 2012 I will be retiring from the MPS and will be handing over responsibility for Operations Weeting, Elveden, Tuleta and all related investigations to DAC Stephen Kavanagh. 
In her 15 page statement, Akers has much to say of interest and includes  (either explicitly or by omission) some developments in those intriguing 'related investigations' or  'sub-operations' are implied.

The MET continue to liaise closely with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on which charges are most appropriate and have the most chance of advancing successful prosecutions.  Both MET and CPS will be acutely aware that each and every one of their charging decisions, and indeed their liaison process, will come under intense public scrutiny given the criticisms and consequences of the 2006-7 Operation Caryatid investigation into phone hacking by the (NOTW) News of the World's Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. Neither MET or CPS can afford any more reputational damage or suspicions of lack of backbone in confronting alleged offences by the press. Unsurprisingly then, Akers reveals that both individual and CORPORATE charges are under consideration.

Operation Weeting:  She sets out the known charges brought so far against 7 former NOTW journalists and executives, plus one non-journalist - see CPS statement here, with a provisional trial date set for September 2013.  All eight are now on court bail.  Also, of  "the 17 arrested, six individuals have been released from police bail with no further action being taken. The remaining three individuals remain on police bail until November and December 2012. All three are on bail for offences relating to conspiracy to intercept communications."  The 1 non-journalist above plus another non-journalist are also awaiting charging decisions in relation to associated money laundering allegations.  Lastly, six others previously arrested under Weeting have been released from police bail with no further action to be taken.  Weeting sub-investigation, Operation Sacha, has so far resulted in seven individuals charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice: "A hearing for defendants’ applications to dismiss is scheduled for 12-13 December 2012."  One for the diary.

The large proportion of Weeting police resources which had to be devoted to notifying possible victims is almost complete. Those number contacted is at present c. 2,500.  The number of officers tasked is now being scaled back to 12, from a peak of 40.

Operation Elvedon:
...52 arrests consisting of 27 current or former journalists, six police officers, 12 current or former public officials and seven individuals who acted as conduits for corrupt payments. Files have been submitted to the CPS to advise on appropriate charges for three public officials and four journalists (current and former). One police officer has been charged with misconduct in public office and an offence under the Official Secrets Act 1989.
The misconduct charge of this last individual has been reported as being in connection with Operation Varec.

Elvedon charging decisions are now being considered under a range of offences:

  • corruption under the 1906 Prevention of Corruption Act
  • conspiracy to corrupt
  • misconduct in a public office
  • conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office
  • aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office
  • money laundering contrary to s328 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 
  • bribery contrary to Section 1 Bribery Act 2010

The last is intriguing - it means offences being considered must therefore include allegations which post-date 2010.

Kelvin Mackenzie, amongst others, may belatedly realise that not all of the offences being considered jointly by MET and CPS have a public interest defence. Whilst re-acquainting themselves with the law, Kelvin and his ilk should note that the CPS have overhauled their guidance on what may be held to constitute 'public interest' in evaluating potential charges (see here) and provided a very handy guide to 'Criminal Offences Most Likely To Apply To Be Committed In Cases Affecting The Media', with maximum penalties spelt out clearly.

Akers states that Operation Elvedon is pursuing evidence realting to News International, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Star and Sunday Star.  Express Newsgroup seem to be more amenable to MET investigation than Trinity Mirror does.

Operation Tuleta:
is conducting an assessment of 142 complaints of data intrusion, including allegations of phone hacking, computer hacking and improper access to banking, medical and other personal records... a vast quantity of data across 70 storage devices is being searched for evidence to support or contradict allegations made... MPS counter corruption databases and relevant HOLMES databases are also being searched. 
Counter-corruption databases?  Must be some joined up thinking going on.  Seventeen individuals have so far been arrested, plus one interviewed under caution on suspicion of offences re the Computer Misuse Act, handling stolen goods (alleged to be mobile phones), and/or perverting the course of justice.

And that's it for Tuleta....  A screechingly abrupt halt on page 10.

But sharp-eyed readers will remember that Sue Akers submitted a 15 page witness statement.  That's easily explained - page 11 REDACTED,  page 12 REDACTED, page 13 REDACTED, page 14 REDACTED, and page 15 REDACTED.

So, presumably for operational reasons and ongoing enquiries, Tuleta's sub-operation Kalmyk is off-limits (for background see here). As are any speculative links to any other past police investigations.

So it's hello to Steve and so long to Sue....

Enjoy your retirement, DAC Akers - "Thank You & Goodbye".

Related Articles
Hackgate - "Newsdesk Here, Kelvin Speaking..."
Hackgate - Andre Baker - A Hackgate Footnote?
Hackgate - Ten To Watch For
Hackgate - Dear Surrey Police
Hackgate - The John Boyall Files
One Rogue Email And The Indestructible Archive  

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  1. In 5 years time when the dust has finally settled, will BROWN MOSES get an MBE or CBE for services to British democracy? Bob G.

  2. Tom Watson for PM and Brown Moses for Deputy PM. Me for Foreign Minister;)