A Police officer thought to have been the source of stories in the Sun and Daily Mail that led ultimately to the resignation of chief whip Andrew Mitchell – the so-called “Plebgate” saga – has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office. This has caused the right leaning part of the Fourth Estate to go apoplectic with rage and, for good measure, say that it’s, well, Leveson, so there.
Whistleblowing, Guv? It's that or Muslims, innit?!?
Nowhere has this tendency been more superbly displayed than at the Mail, where the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has gone into why-oh-why overdrive today: “Police Federation attacks arrest of leak officer who sparked 'plebgate' row that cost top Tory Andrew Mitchell his job” screams the headline. Yes, it’s the cops who are angry, and the Mail is just passing on the information.
This is followed by the introduction of the frightener du jour “chilling” and its conjunction with “whistleblowing”, the whole being rounded off with a stern warning that having anything to do with the proposals put forward by Lord Justice Leveson will mean the end of the freedom of the press to print all manner of pejorative garbage while not letting the readers in on the whole story.
And just to underscore that all the Mail wants is a fine, honest and upstanding Police force that does not have the fear of being nicked just for speaking to a hack off the record, Dacre’s tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn has been pressed into service to frighten the readers even more. “Without brave whistleblowers, Ali Dizaei would be running the Met police” exclaims Dick. What a Dick he is.
Dick talks of the Met being “furious” over the arrest, though how on earth he can tell from the poolside of his gated Florida compound is unclear. But he is deeply unhappy with new Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and one of his deputy Assistant Commissioners. Then he says a provision of the Leveson report has been “embraced” by Hogan-Howe. Sadly, this is not possible. It’s not for him to do so.
But what Littlejohn and the three hacks whose by-line appears on the headline article appear unwilling to tell their readers is that this arrest may not be about who the information about Andrew Mitchell may or may not have been passed to. It centres on the possibility that the officer in question was not present when Mitchell had his sweary outburst at the end of Downing Street.
Moreover, the further possibility, which the deeply subversive Guardian has managed to pick up on, is that there may have been, shall we say, some creative embellishment during the translation of what Mitchell actually said into what was fed to the press. And that would be the press for which Littlejohn works. So rather than let the readers know they may have been suckered, someone else gets kicked.
Nobody addresses the thought that single-sourced copy might not be A Good Thing.