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Sunday 11 August 2013

Leveson For PIs? Bring It On

Those observing events at Northcliffe House will have noticed the constant drip-feed in both Daily Mail and Mail On Sunday of stories about private investigators (PIs) that apparently have nothing to do with the Fourth Estate, accompanied by allegations that Lord Justice Leveson somehow ignored this supposedly compelling evidence of corporate wrongdoing by association.
One pundit who is more than happy to subscribe to this meme is Neil “Wolfman” Wallis, and he’s been at it today, telling anyone who will listen about the PIs who hacked the phone of a 14 year old road accident victim. This, the Mail has thundered, must be just as bad as the Screws having Milly Dowler’s phone hacked for its voicemails. Therefore Something Must Be Done.

And, d’you know what, on this one, I agree with the Wolfman. No ifs, no buts, Zelo Street backs unequivocally an Inquiry like Leveson into PIs. That would be “into the culture, practices and ethics” of private investigators. After all, the Police are sitting on a mountain of evidence from a number of previous operations. So let’s have Leveson Mark 2, and the sooner the better.
Be careful what you wish for, O Wolfman

Of course, there may be no buts for those of us in the blogosphere, but there could easily be for the Wolfman and his former colleagues. So he needs to think long and hard about his advocacy of a Leveson that will reveal not only the PIs and their networks of blaggers, petty criminals and corrupt public servants (including the Police), but also the people they did it all for.

If Wallis is still unsure of my drift, perhaps he could check out Southern Investigations and their tie-up with the Screws (as well as the yet unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan), Steve Whittamore and his tie-up with, well, just about all those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet, and all the others prepared to obtain information, by whatever means, for money.

The problem for the credibility of Wallis – and anyone else associated with the Fourth Estate – is that the press has, in the past, come over all defensive whenever PIs look to be under the spotlight. If we are to have a Leveson Mark 2, he and his pals must realise that this will not be some kind of moveable feast: once set in train, it must go where the evidence leads it.

And that is why, while I support Leveson for PIs, I’m damn sure that Neil Wallis and his pals are mere fair weather friends, and that, as soon as anything looks to be leading back to the press, they’ll either go schtum or engage “yebbut” mode and tell the rest of us to “look over there”. They’re only pointing at PIs to take the heat off themselves over press regulation. Otherwise they wouldn’t give a stuff.

Neil Wallis, you’re full of wind and piss. Stop wasting everyone’s time.

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