While the attention in the wake of Phonehackgate and the Leveson Inquiry continues to focus on the less than principled behaviour of Rupe’s downmarket troops at the Sun and Screws, the recent arrests related to paying Police and other public servants should by now be sounding alarm bells among another group of those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet.
Who're you f***ing calling bent, c***?
And that group is the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, as one reading of Flat Earth News – whose author Nick Davies added this year’s Paul Foot award to his trophy cabinet last night – will show. While the Screws used Jonathan Rees as a go-between to access corrupt Police officers, the Mail used the services of a rival Davies refers to as Z.
Davies sums up the character of the Dacre empire’s conduit thus: “Z is happy to describe himself as a journalist, and it’s true that he earns a living selling stories to national newspapers. Z is also happy to describe himself as a former detective. The simple reality is that Z is bent. He was bent in the police and he went on to be bent in Fleet Street”.
So how did Z do his dealings with the Mail? According to Davies, “Reporters who have worked at the Mail talk of handing over envelopes containing up to £3,000 in cash”. Some of these were bribes to serving officers. On occasion, Mail hacks would meet corrupt coppers for drinks at the Wine Press in Fleet Street. And the Met tried, but failed, to cut this out.
And it wasn’t only the Police that were bunged a few drinks by Dacre’s finest, as Davies then tells “Reporters from the Daily Mail to whom I spoke independently agreed that they have bribed not only police officers but also civil servants”. These included officials with access to the social security database, which was at one time used “as if it was an extension of the Daily Mail library”.
None of this should surprise anyone: the Mail has, over the years, consistently been at the front of the pack when it comes to getting personal information on its targets. As another reporter told Davies “If the Mail go for you, they get every phone number you have dialled, every school-mate, everything on your credit card, every call from your phone and from your mobile. Everything”.
So it was entirely predictable that, after keeping schtum for so long, the Mail reports helpfully detailed all the wrongdoing of the Murdoch empire (this article from earlier this week is typical) while in the Dacre bunker, fingers are being crossed and silence is being maintained. Because what the Sun has been accused of doing is exactly what the Mail has been up to.
Maybe Nick Davies should donate a copy of Flat Earth News to Operation Elveden.