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Thursday 8 March 2012

Leveson Is Served (13)


As the Leveson Inquiry ponders the relationship between the Police and those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, many former incarnations of “Knacker Of The Yard” have been paraded before it, and all have experienced some kind of revelation based mainly on the sudden acquisition of 20/20 hindsight. It is entirely coincidental that it took them all so long.

John Stephens was typical of the genre. If only he had known that phone hacking was going on, well, he would have been down on the perpetrators like the proverbial ton of bricks. The reality was rather different: he was dining with Neil “Wolfman” Wallis (who played Piers “Morgan” Moron the Heather Mills voicemail), Stuart Kuttner (who let the cat out of the bag when he gave Nick Davies the verbals over The Dark Arts), and Andy Coulson.

Moreover, he met Rebekah Wade, as she then was, twelve times between 2000 and 2005. And, after leaving the Met, he took up the offer of writing for the Screws, before realising what a nest of vipers it was – bit late by then – by which time the hacking damage had been done.

Paul Condon was equally blessed with the ability to re-imagine the past: he had been “very disappointed” by some of the issues that led him to give testimony before the inquiry, and, had he still been involved in the Police, he would have been “very angry”. He went on about how the force should communicate with the media and public, but it wasn’t about communication. It was about corruption.

Ian Blair was no more convincing: he had known that his phone number was in Glenn Mulcaire’s notes back in 2006. Yet on his watch, Yates of the Yard had in his possession a veritable treasure trove of incriminating material from Mulcaire, about which he did precisely nothing, though he had no problem enjoying drinks with representatives of the Mail, Sun and Screws.

Blair concluded that Yates was “not acting to protect News International”, which is interesting, given the amount of food and drink that Rupe’s troops put his way. The best he could manage, when pressed on Yates’ all too rapid dismissal of the Guardian revelations in 2009, was that it was “too hasty”. The acrid stench of corruption, rather than mere coincidence, seems to have passed him by.

But he, too, would have acted differently, if only he had known, which suggests that the Met was not very good at passing information about criminal wrongdoing between its senior officers. One might find that very worrying, given that half decent information dissemination is what modern policing is all about. Alternatively, it could equally be concluded that this is no more than backside covering. More later.

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