The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are swaggering and crowing this morning after Anthony France, the only one of their hacks to be convicted as a result of Operation Elveden, which concerned payments by journalists to public officials, had his conviction quashed and left court without a criminal record.
It was front page lead, despite not many Sun readers being fussed about the affair. The braying, triumphant headline said it all: “Last Reporter Caught Up In £30M, 5 Yr Legal Witch-Hunt Is Cleared … CPS, you took Sun helluva beating”. A suitably crowing editorial tells “Operation Elveden must go down as one of the most shameful and haphazard episodes in British legal history … Professional and personal lives of reporters have been forever changed by a £30m politically-driven witch-hunt”.
But it is veteran Murdoch enforcer Trevor Kavanagh - you know, the one who is supposed to be a board member of press regulator IPSO - who made the significant contribution, doing what he does best when confronted with the demands of Don Rupioni but not having the facts to carry them out - lying through his teeth.
Kavanagh’s comment piece, “The CPS’ vendetta against us for exposing major scandals you NEEDED to know is costliest and most flawed investigation in history”, is in equal parts malicious, inaccurate, and downright dishonest (no surprise there, then). Kav starts with “the verdict raises alarming questions about the motives and conduct of police, prosecutors and politicians who pursued this flawed vendetta at vast public expense”.
Photo cropped so as not to reveal burning trousers
And then he veers across the dishonesty line big time. “So who is to blame for the gigantic fiasco which has permanently soured once-valuable links between press and police? It all began in October 1999 when we decided Gordon Brown was not up to the job as PM and switched to the Tories … Furious Brown vowed to destroy the Murdoch press, David Cameron set up the blundering Leveson Inquiry and police pounced on a chance to prove, after a series of scandals, they could act tough”. And there was more.
“Labour was lucky to have Keir Starmer, a lifelong supporter, as Director of Public Prosecutions. He leaned over backwards to make the conspiracy counts stick … His reward was a safe Labour seat, a job in the Shadow Cabinet and a chance to pitch for the party leadership. He was ably assisted by hatchet-faced Met chief Bernard Hogan-Howe, who has relentlessly pursued journalists”. All of that is totally untrue.
Leave aside the inconvenient fact that Pa Broon did not become PM until 2007, and that the Sun did not come out for the Tories until September 2009, neither he, nor Starmer, nor Hogan Howe had anything to do with it. Nothing at all. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Bugger all.
Operation Elveden would never have happened, had it not been for one action: the decision of Will Lewis, who, as the then General Manager of News International, decided to head off a possible corporate prosecution by handing the cops a load of emails detailing the dealings between Sun and Screws hacks and their contacts.
Lewis, who had given evidence before the Leveson Inquiry, telling that protection of sources was non-negotiable, had, er, abandoned the protection of the Murdoch press’ sources to shake off the prospect of corporate charges.
It had nothing to do with “300 years of press freedom”, or any of Kavanagh’s other attempts at deflection. The prosecutions the Sun is thundering about this morning came about because of a decision by its own management to grass up its sources.
It gets worse: when Kavanagh claims “the CPS failed to land a single enduring conviction”, he is once again lying. Perhaps no hacks were convicted. But their sources were. And just to remind Kav what he appears to have forgotten, Zelo Street will name some of them.
Jonathan Hall, of HM Revenue and Customs, leaked the 2010 budget to the Sun. He received an eight month suspended sentence.
April Casburn, a DCI in the Metropolitan Police, sold inside information on the phone hacking saga. She was jailed for 15 months.
Paul Flattley, a Police officer, who sold information on Kate Middleton’s security arrangements. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
Scott Chapman, a prison officer who sold details of Jon Venables, one of the two Bulger killers. He went down for three and a half years.
Lynn Gaffney, former partner of Scott Chapman. She was jailed for 30 weeks.
Timothy Edwards, a Police officer based at Heathrow Airport. Jailed for two years.
Simon Quinn, a former Police officer who leaked information on the Dowler murder. He went down for 15 months.
There were others. And that is why Trevor Kavanagh, who continues to sit on the board of toothless sham press regulator IPSO, once again has his pants on fire.
If the Sun wants to find the real culprits for what happened with Operation Elveden, it need look no further than its own gaff. Hell, the Murdoch clowns even gave the cops office space to help them to nick its own staff. That is what an unprincipled shower they are.
And after all of that, we close with a single verse from a well-known hymn.
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Murdochs shopped them all