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Tuesday 15 November 2011

Leveson Is Served

The Leveson Enquiry is now under way, and today those representing Rupe’s troops and Associated Newspapers have been having their say. Rhodri Davies, for News International, has queried the previous assertion that 28 hacks from the Screws were soliciting phone hacking from Glenn Mulcaire, which is a brave move: for all he knows, the real number could be yet higher.

Davies has also disputed that actor Jude Law had his phone hacked on behalf of the Screws. I am not confident that this, either, will prove a fruitful avenue along which to travel. But at least he has conceded that the Fourth Estate is not above the law. Meanwhile, Jonathan Caplan, batting for the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, has suggested that the Mail did not intend to break it.

That might raise a few eyebrows, given that the Daily Mail – the figures I’m using are those quoted by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News – was found to have made a total of 985 requests to PI Steve Whittamore over a three-year period, more than one for every working day, and that for requests where a conclusion could be drawn, all were “certainly” or “very probably” in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Whittamore’s ten most active journalist clients alone paid him a total of over £164,000 to obtain 3,291 pieces of information which were either “certainly” or “probably” illegal. It is inconceivable that none of those journalists worked for Associated. Yet Caplan has had the brass neck to state “[There is] no evidence that they ever asked Mr Whittamore to do anything illegal”.

Excuse me, but the bullshit detector just went off. If the Dacre hackery asked Whittamore to get them information that they could not secure by legitimate means, how then do they think he obtained it? So they merely asked him for information. They aren’t wet behind the ears. Hacks would know full well that Whittamore had to break the law to get it. Caplan is dissembling.

Caplan has then told the enquiry that Whittamore “was also hired by others, including banks, and local firms of solicitors”, which, freely translated, means “look over there!” and does not make the information Whittamore obtained for the Dacre press in any way legal. Hopefully someone will see through Caplan’s gambit and get some answers out of Associated.

Meanwhile, the representative of Richard “Dirty” Desmond is this afternoon’s star turn. That could be interesting. And I doubt that Associated’s involvement in Operation Motorman has passed without notice.

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