Today, the Mail tells the world that it has found the smoking gun. All those blue chip companies using rogue private investigators (PIs) are finally revealed. But, beneath the screaming headline “REVEALED, 15 blue-chip firms linked to rogue private eyes... and kept secret by police: Bombshell evidence piles on pressure for Leveson to extend hacking inquiry beyond the media”, all is not as it seems.
For starters, Lord Justice Leveson has completed his Inquiry into the “Culture, Practice and Ethics of the Press”. It would not be up to him as to whether there was to be any further inquiry. Moreover, the list from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is just that: it does not form part of any investigation, and is therefore unlikely to be of evidential standard.
That means it would not get very far if tested in a court of law. But that is not to say that the Mail should not be applauded for going after potential lawbreaking. So what have they uncovered? “The world’s biggest accountancy firm Deloitte, powerful banks Credit Suisse and Chase Manhattan, and giant law firm Richards Butler, now part of Reed Smith –which represented Gordon Brown at the Leveson Inquiry – are all on a secret list belonging to a corrupt private detective”.
A secret list, with names on it? Very Dad’s Army. But do go on: “A Mail on Sunday investigation has also established the rogue investigators jailed last year for illegally accessing information by ‘blagging’ appeared to be linked to international solicitors’ firms Herbert Smith –which represented former RBS boss Fred Goodwin – and Clyde & Co”. But only “appeared to be linked”.
But, as the man said, there’s more: “Last night a senior Westminster source indicated that all six firms are on the classified Serious Organised Crime Agency list currently locked away in a safe opposite the House of Commons”. The plot thickens folks, and not a granule of Bisto in sight!
So readers are given the impression by this stage that lots of big companies have been commissioning some Very Bad Things, that these are worse Very Bad Things than the Fourth Estate ever got up to, and that Leveson could, and should, do something about it, but isn’t doing, because they’re all ganging up on the poor hacks and editors and it’s rotten and totally unfair.
This is total bullshit. Leveson does not have the power to reopen his Inquiry or start another one. What was in the SOCA report wouldn’t persuade a court of law. And what’s this, in the eighth paragraph of the Mail’s piece? “There is no evidence that those named knowingly employed the rogue detectives in criminal activity on their behalf”. The Mail wants an Inquiry on the basis of no sodding evidence.
The sheer brass neck of the Fourth Estate in a nutshell. No change there, then.