News arrived with today’s edition of the deeply subversive Guardian that the Murdoch empire is facing as many as 600 more claims for phone hacking and tapping. This would mean that Operation Weeting, the Police investigation into hacking, will not close this year, but could go on into 2015. And there was a further revelation, just to make things more interesting.
The information the Police are working on appears to have been provided by an industry insider, who the Guardian claims is to turn crown witness. And on top of that, this supergrass has also worked for Trinity Mirror, and was behind the information that sparked the arrest of four serving and former Mirror and People editors last week.
The rozzers have been through the phone records of this insider, and it is from these that the figure of 600 has been obtained. Potential damage for Rupe and his troops will come from two groups: new claimants, and those who have previously taken action, and are not prevented from taking further action. This suggests hacking may not have been confined to Glenn Mulcaire.
And by implication it pins hacking on the Mirror titles, but exactly which ones is not yet clear: at present the Police are looking just at the Sunday Mirror and the period 2003-4. This latest development, with more to be revealed in the High Court on Monday next, comes at a difficult time for Young Dave and his jolly good new press regulator that looks rather like the old press regulator.
If it’s bad timing for Cameron, it looks far worse for the press: we now have two media groups involved, along with long held suspicions that the Mail and Telegraph have not exactly been paragons of probity in the past (the former was using the services of Steve Whittamore almost daily in the years preceding Operation Motorman). The mood for regulatory reform may be hardening.
In the meantime, questions are being asked as to who the supergrass is. Jon Snow of Channel 4 News fame gave the impression earlier today that he has a name in mind: if it really is someone senior, the defence of “editors didn’t know as it was someone minor (and, optionally, operating on their own) whose behaviour they weren’t aware of” will fall flat.
So who is the supergrass? Who is there who has worked for Trinity Mirror in the 2003-4 period and for News International since then, and who can be credibly called a “senior insider”? All answers gratefully received.
In the meantime, here on Zelo Street it’s time for more excellent spectator sport.