After the Tories once again voted down the idea of completing the Leveson Inquiry, and keeping the promise made by their own leader to the victims of press intrusion and abuse, Theresa May and her pals might have thought that the subject would go away. I have to tell her that there is next to no chance of that happening any time soon.
Quite apart from the confirmation that the Mail’s titles have not changed their ways - the intrusion and trashing of single mum Danielle Hindley confirmed that - have come a whole slew of revelations resulting from legal actions against the Murdoch press. One such revelation concerns Neil Wallis, who prefers the nickname “Wolfman”, but was more routinely known as “The rasping f***wit”, and “Mr Can We Say”.
But why Wallis? After all, he was found Not Guilty at his own particular hacking trial, after the jury preferred to believe him, and not his former colleague Dan Evans. Well, the jury could only go on the evidence that was presented to them, and since the trial, rather a lot more evidence has appeared, suggesting that, although he maintained in court that he did not know about the hacking, he may have been seriously economical with the actualité.
And the story which keeps coming up when Wallis and hacking are mentioned together is that of the David Blunkett and Kimberly Quinn affair, the latest revelation coming from Byline Media. This concerns what is called email metadata - the original emails may have been deleted, but information about them remained available.
From this, we now know that in July 2004, Neville “Stylish Masturbator” Thurlbeck, who had personally hacked Blunkett’s voice messages, emailed Wallis, titling his email “Blunkett Msg 2”. Wallis replied five minutes later. The email exchange came the day after Thurlbeck had hacked the Blunkett voicemail. The Byline article explains more.
“The voicemails formed the basis for a News of the World front page in August 2004 about a private relationship between Mr Blunkett and the American magazine publisher Kimberly Quinn … The exact contents of the emails is unknown, because they were later part of massive “batch deletions” carried out on the instruction of News International bosses, Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch”. And there is more.
As Zelo Street regulars may recall, there is a second strand of evidence suggesting Wallis knew all about the hacking that had gone on at the late and not at all lamented Screws. Former editor Colin Myler claimed there had been a meeting where he, Wallis and former Screws executive Stuart Kuttner had been told by Thurlbeck that he had hacked Blunkett’s phone. Thurlbeck was ordered to destroy the evidence.
The meeting took place just after Nick Davies’ first Guardian story on phone hacking, in July 2009. Myler also claimed he had arranged a meeting with Rebekah Brooks and News International legal man Tom Crone at which Ms Brooks, having heard about the hacking, “appeared shocked and agitated about what I was telling her. I believe she said this is ‘one question too many, six months too late’ and ‘I will not let this company go into meltdown’”.
Now has come the news that Neil Wallis was emailed what appears to be clear information that the former Labour minister had his phone hacked. So now it is looking more and more as if he may have had his pants on fire. And in court too. Most unfortunate.