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Saturday 30 July 2011

Guido Fawked – No Research, No Result (5)

The pursuit of the appalling Piers Morgan by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, who styles himself Guido Fawkes, has changed tack as Staines has belatedly discovered Operation Motorman, which Zelo Street covered five days ago. He mentions Steve Whittamore, former resident of 3 Orchard Grove, New Milton, who he describes as a “notorious blagger”. Not quite.

Whittamore, as Nick Davies has shown, was known mainly for running a network of information gatherers, much of whose product was generated by illegal means. And before Staines gets too far ahead of himself, he might pause to consider the result of the court case brought against Whittamore and others: they all got away, astonishingly, with nothing more severe than a conditional discharge.

Moreover, Staines’ obsession with Morgan fails to consider that the Daily Mirror was not even close to being Whittamore’s largest client. Taking Staines’ assertion that the paper was identified as being behind 65 information requests over a two year period, that makes less than three a month. The Daily Mail, with 986 requests in three years, was making more than one request every working day.

And Staines could also bear in mind that – which may surprise some – Whittamore and his network did obtain some information legally, though probably not much beyond searches of the electoral register. Also, he could consider not making conclusions without those pesky facts: his claim that actor Kate Winslet had her mobile number blagged is no more than that.

But what does not appear to have entered in Staines’ pursuit of CNN’s 9pm ET weekday host – quite apart from the shortage of replacements, especially as 8pm man Eliot Spitzer has just been given the boot – is that shining more light on Operation Motorman will reveal the identities not just of Mirror hacks, but those at other papers that used Whittamore’s services.

As already mentioned, those include the Daily Mail. They also include the Maily Telegraph, which as I pointed out last week, illegally obtained David Kelly’s phone records less than five hours after the announcement of his death. And they include the Murdoch press. And all of these have recently used the services of a well known blogger to get stories or just information.

Who might that blogger be? Step forward Paul Staines!

Whether those papers will still be up for doing business with Staines, if his over-zealous pursuit of Piers Morgan drags them into the mire, is somewhere in the range between doubtful and out of the question. The great Guido should be careful what he wishes for.

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