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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Fake Sheikh – Now The Fallout

The Panorama programme on the activities of Mazher Mahmood, aka the Fake Sheikh, was perhaps most interesting for who did not appear, rather than who did. It was also blindingly obvious that John Sweeney was taking a balanced view throughout, and that, as Jack Of Kent pointed out, there was little, if any, grounds for all the legal action meant to prevent the broadcast.
Mazher Mahmood does not want you to see this photo

So who merely phoned in their no-comment comments? At the top of the heap is News UK, the empire of Creepy Uncle Rupe, the organisation that not only tolerated, but encouraged Mahmood’s behaviour – and profited handsomely from it. They bankrolled the legal actions – Maz could not possibly have done that himself – and otherwise did their utmost to protect their prize asset.

Why would they do that? Simples. The Sun On Sunday clearly saw the Fake Sheikh as valuable enough to keep under wraps so that he could carry on stinging, just as he had done for so many years. The Murdoch press has no problem with more slebs having their careers trashed in order to keep sales figures up. News UK is fine with more of the actions exposed yesterday evening.
Rupert Murdoch gives the Leveson Inquiry a traditional tabloid greeting

Also not commenting was the Metropolitan Police, and here a rather more disturbing picture emerges. That the Met was too close to part of the Fourth Estate, and especially the Murdoch titles, has been made clear by the Police’s foot-dragging over phone hacking. Mahmood claimed to have done some of his stinging in cooperation with the Met. But who polices the Police?

And, forming an unholy trinity with both press and Police, we have private investigators, and especially Southern Investigations (SI), which employs the dubious talents of those like the seriously dodgy Sid Fillery. SI worked with the Screws; it also worked with a number of corrupt serving or former Police officers. SI appears to have gone quiet right now.

Finally, there are other journalists who may have used less than ethical methods, or not asked too many questions about how the information feeding into their by-lines had been obtained. Those who condoned phone hacking, and would rather folks don’t dwell on the Fake Sheikh’s story, will face further scrutiny as a result of last night’s Panorama. They know who they are.

All of which brings one inescapable conclusion: far from being the end of the matter, John Sweeney’s expose of the Fake Sheikh is only the beginning. As with phone hacking, progress will initially be slow, there will be denials and obfuscation, but ultimately, what goes around comes around. Illegal behaviour will be punished, and the lawyers will be gearing up for compensation claims.

You takers of the Murdoch shilling still want in? You brave and foolish people.


Anonymous said...

There is more on the relations with the Met Police here.


The decision of John Stevens to build the Met's relations with certain sections of the press appears to have been a key event. I wonder why the Murdoch press took such a dislike to his successor?


rob said...

There also remain those stories which were never told because of "favours" induced?

One such that was revealed at Leveson being the medical history of SAF.

Anonymous said...

You mean this?


Information is, of course, a commodity that can be traded or used as leverage. The stories that were never told because the victim cooperated could be very interesting.


Anonymous said...

The flowing blog has some interesting musings about the implications of some of the revelations.


Who is holding the police to account if the press an police are in practice in cahoots?

Glenn Mulcaire (in the book written by James Manning but based mainly on the thoughts of Mulcaire) suggests that he thought he was actually working for the police and security services through the Murdoch press. This raises even more questions about the accountability of our institutions.


Anonymous said...

George Galloway MP was a target. He's now on the case after the Met refused to take any action. He's asked for the NoTW tapes.

rob said...

@ guano

Even worse if the police/media/secret services/politicians are in cahoots? All tied together - glue being the threat of revelations?

Anonymous said...

The threat of revelations may be part of the glue. Politicians in particular may be afraid of what is in the archives of the Murdoch press (though the press often decide to monster politicians on the basis of nothing more than how they eat a bacon sandwich).

There are, though, other mutual interests. The Fake Sheikh entraps someone, the NotW sells a few more copies, the police can claim that they cleared up a crime. Result! Except that the crime may never have happened except for the Fake Sheikh and the "criminals" are naïve rather than gangsters.

I'm a bit surprised at the silence following Mulcaire's claims. Either he is making it up, in which case you would expect loud cries of "bullshit" from those who are in the know; or there is some truth in it, which has serious implications. Are the police or secret services so incompetent that they have to ask Glenn Mulcaire to hack phones? Or is there some other reason they might have someone from outside to do some hacking? And how do they pay for this service? After reading a number of phone-hacking books I was left wondering whether the police/secret services and the press trade confidential information between them (which is an even more serious issue than the press buying information with money from individual public servants).