[Update at end of post]
Following my observations yesterday about the state of play at the Murdoch Sun following another round of arrests – these of senior executive staff, on suspicion of “bribing police and public officials” – Trevor Kavanagh, the paper’s veteran associate editor and former political editor, has come out with guns blazing. The whiff of victimhood is palpable.
“Witch-hunt has put us behind ex-Soviet states on Press freedom” he protests, not realising that “ex-Soviet” means “no longer Soviet”, and ignoring his own title’s going after two less than fully mobile pensioners in Nottingham a week ago because they had claimed universal (and therefore not means tested) benefits. And he claims this is part of “the biggest police operation in British criminal history” (it isn’t).
This last, of course, continues the “Littlejohn feint”: attempting to get public opinion on-side by asserting that the Met’s finest should have better things to do than arrest hacks who may have bunged public servants the odd bundle of used notes, no questions asked. Kavanagh trowels it on by asserting “Major crime investigations are on hold” (like which? That’ll be another long wait, then).
Kavanagh begins with a lame appeal to authority: “The Sun is not a swamp that needs draining”. Really? We’ll leave the Met and the courts to judge that one, thanks. But there’s worse to come: “30 journalists have been dragged from their beds in dawn raids”. Yeah, like when senior figures in and around the Labour Party got the same over “cash for peerages”. Our Trev was hot on that one. Not.
Then comes the brass neck deployment: “It is important that we do not jump to conclusions”. Wha-hey! Where do we start on that one? Winston Silcott, Hillsborough, “The Big Earner”, Jean Charles de Menezes, the Forest Gate two, Robert Murat, Christopher Jefferies, Fat Reg From Pinner and no rent boys, Anders Breivik, and last but not least, Freddie Starr. Yeah, right.
On top of all that, Kavanagh admits wrongdoing: “Sometimes money changes hands”, he observes, before excusing this with “This has been standard procedure as long as newspapers have existed”. Trev, a word in your shell-like: remember a bloke called Robert Mark? The one who used to run the Met, and said the force’s objective should be “to catch more crooks than it employs”?
Kavanagh has been scrabbling around the dunghill that is Grubstreet for long enough to remember that Robert Mark was a ferocious opponent of what those Stateside would call graft. The routine of bunging officers a few drinks in exchange for inside information was largely ended on his watch. There has been nothing “standard” about this “procedure” since the 1970s.
And this “witch hunt” is just the Met doing its job. Deal with it.
[UPDATE 14 February 0930 hours: the Met has put out a statement about the raids and arrests, which demonstrates that Trevor Kavanagh has been more than a little creative in his retelling of events.
It stresses "the MPS does not believe that the level of resources devoted to the three inquiries is in any way disproportionate to the enormous task in hand", then goes on "At no stage has any major investigation been compromised as a result of these deployments".
So much for all the guff about other investigations being hobbled - the idea that the Met should be out catching "real criminals". And, as for Kavanagh's assertion that "up to 20" officers turned up at some of his colleagues' houses, there was this:
"We would like to make it clear that no more than ten MPS officers attended each of the home addresses of the persons arrested as part of Operation Elveden on Saturday, 11 February".
So that's Trevor Kavanagh caught spraying his credibility up the wall by telling whoppers. Old habits, and all that]