Tag Archives: Goodman

News of the World, Hackgate and the Police Investigation – Part 2

What Did the Police Uncover and What Did they Make of it?

 

Since I first drafted this post, the news about  developments has kept coming so fast, there has not been time to hit the “Publish” button!

What I wanted to do was to look at the evidence given by DCS Williams of the Metropolitan Police in the Tommy Sheridan trial to see what it told us at that stage (December 2010) about what the police had actually uncovered as part of Operation Caryatid.

In light of the resignations yesterday and today of Commissioner Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner Yates, in part over concerns about the lack of rigour in the inquiries, I find the evidence of DCS Williams rather interesting. It helps, I think, to make clear the dreadfully negative attitude the police had to this whole inquiry. They simply wished it would go away.

As always my notes of the evidence are taken from the excellent Sheridan Trial Blog, put together by James Doleman.

Of course when DCS Williams gave evidence, Andy Coulson was still Director of Communications for the Prime Minister, Stephenson and Yates were still in place, Brooks and Hinton still worked for Rupert Murdoch, and the News of the World was the top-selling newspaper in Britain. How things change!

DCS Williams gave evidence about the search of Glenn Mulcaire’s property and the information discovered about his methodology.

He was asked if, during the search, it was true that  “3000 telephone numbers, 30 audio tapes and 100 PIN codes” had been unearthed.

DCS Williams said this was “not accurate”. Mr Sheridan referred to a parliamentary inquiry having been told there were “2978” numbers recovered, and he had “rounded that up to 3000”. DCS Williams replied, “If that is what the MPs were given it will be correct” and added that he believed the figure for PIN codes was 91.

It is, as an aside, interesting that the first reply was that the figures were not accurate, when, in fact, the correct details were 2,978 not 3,000 phone numbers, and 91 rather than 100 PIN codes.

Whilst I have posted before that Mr Sheridan’s lack of a full legal training and experience has meant that prosecutions for perjury of certain of the witnesses in his case is less likely as his questions were often not sufficiently precise, he deserves credit here for getting DCS Williams to agree that the figures given, whilst not precise, were pretty close. I do not intend to suggest that it was DCS Williams’ intention to downgrade the effect of the numbers put to him – but that, if he had not been pursued further, would probably have been the effect.

DCS Williams then told the court how Mr Mulcaire carried out the hacking. He would obtain the “unique number” of the mailbox belonging to their target and “dial it direct”. Depending on the “level of security” it would sometimes be necessary to obtain a PIN number.

In all the ongoing discussions regarding the “hacking” there has been little clear reporting of precisely what was done by Mr Mulcaire and the other investigators used by the press.

Some writers have even said that it does not amount to hacking where simply someone accesses a phone’s messages because the default PIN code has not been changed.

This evidence is an indication, to my eyes, that there was more to it than a simple reliance on phone users not changing their PIN codes.

Anyone who saw Chris Bryant MP being “interviewed” by Kay Burley some months ago on Sky News would be well aware that there was more to the process than simply relying on default PIN codes.

We next come to the nub of the issue, and that which, effectively, has lead to the end of the police careers of Messrs Stephenson and Yates.

Mr Sheridan asked how many people had been affected. DCS Williams stated that they had only evidence that reached the level of proof for “one victim” whom he identified as James Pinkerton, a “private secretary in the Royal Household.”

DCS Williams could not tell the court how many phones had been hacked or how many voicemails accessed.

We now know that there are around 4,000 possible victims of Glenn Mulcaire’s phone hacking spree (at least). This is based upon the information taken from Mr Mulcaire’s home, and which, by the time of the Sheridan trial, had been in the possession of the Metropolitan Police for over four years. Quite how DCS Williams was able to say that there was one victim, Mr Pinkerton, seems remarkable.

However, standing what Mr Yates said to the Home Affairs Select Committee last week, namely that the police were bound by a very strict definition of the offence given to them by the Crown Prosecution Service, it is easier to see how the effects were so minimised, even if the interpretation seems ridiculously narrow.

The interpretation given to Mr Yates was that an offence could only be proved to have been committed where it could be proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that a message on a mobile phone had been accessed by a third party before the intended recipient had heard it. On the guidance Mr Yates stated he had been given, it was necessary to prove that messages were hacked before the recipient got to them. Understandably that would be something very difficult to prove.

Leaving aside for now my view that that is a nonsensical definition of the crime, it at least helps us to understand why the Met Police seemed to underplay the numbers so much.

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if the police had discovered the names that related to the phone numbers they had found. DCS Williams turned to the judge, Lord Bracadale, and said “M’lord. I have given answers, I don’t see how this is relevant.” Lord Bracadale directed the witness to answer.

Why would the officer be reluctant to answer that question? Was it a fear that a long police operation might seem to have been ridiculous if there had been so many numbers and only a few names found? Perhaps one of the House of Commons Select Committees looking into this matter, or Lord Justice Levenson’s inquiry might want to ask DCS Williams.

DCS Williams told the court that “the mere presence of a name and address does not mean anything unlawful has gone on.” The witness went on to state that “you would expect” that people who worked in the media would have possession of this sort of information and he “could not assume the purpose it’s held for is interception.” DCS Williams added that this had also been the view of the Crown Prosecution Service when they had reviewed the case last year (2009).

So there we have it in a nutshell. The implication I take from DCS Williams’ evidence is that the police were looking for reasons not to have to enquire into matters. The assumption seemed to be that unless the evidence of “hacking” struck them over the head, they should not really go looking for it.

Many in legal practice have had clients come in after approaching the police about what they, the victims, have perceived to be criminal activity, only to be met with the response at the Police Station desk of “That will be a civil matter, Sir.”

That was generally seen as a euphemism for “I am too busy or cannot be bothered dealing with that matter. Take it to a solicitor and don’t bother me, Sir.”

Here, on an industrial scale, to coin a phrase, the police were attempting to say “It’s a civil matter, Sir” as exemplified by Assistant Commissioner Yates’ review following further allegations by the Guardian where he reconsidered the whole matter of the 11,000 pages of evidence in an eight hour period before coming to the view that there was nothing new to look at or to justify the taking of further action at that time.

This is exemplified by the way that, originally, many of the celebrities and politicians complaining about hacking were told they had not been hacked, yet are now being made aware that they might have been.

Whether this “blind eye” approach was anything more sinister than simple incompetence will, hopefully, be addressed by one of the myriad of inquiries which seem to sprouting daily in connection with these matters.

What seems clear is that the police wanted little or nothing to do with this investigation – it was downplayed as much as possible – the bare minimum action was taken, and the whole sorry mess can be summed up by the picture of Mr Mulcaire’s 11,000 pages of notes lying in plastic bags in a Scotland Yard store room for four years, uncatalogued and ignored.

 

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Andy Coulson, the News of the World, Tommy Sheridan and Perjury

 

 

Perjury in the law of Scotland is the making of false statements under oath, the statements having to be competent evidence in the case in which they were made, and material to the subject of the case or investigation. There requires to be proof beyond reasonable doubt that the statement or statements are false and there requires to be evidence from at least two sources.

In a case where the accused has “spun a line” by advancing under oath a case he knows to be untrue, as the jury determined Mr Sheridan had done, the questions that prompt the perjured statements are of lesser importance.

However, where it is alleged that answers to questions have been perjured, then the precise wording of the question becomes vital.

It might, as I explain below, turn out that Mr Sheridan’s decision to dispense with Counsel and to act for himself could let Mr Coulson off a hook he might otherwise have been on.

A few months ago Barry Bonds, a famous baseball player, was tried for perjury in California in connection with allegedly perjured evidence he gave to a Grand Jury about steroid and other drug use. Because many of the questions asked to him were rhetorical, and multi claused, by the end of the case many of the allegations had disappeared from the indictment against him. Put simply, if he was not asked a straight question, it was difficult to prosecute him for giving a false answer, especially where the answers in turn were inspecific and woolly. In a different way Mr Coulson might be the beneficiary of Mr Sheridan’s lack of legal expertise, notwithstanding his undoubted oratorical talents.

I should state that Mr Coulson has at no time accepted that he committed perjury in connection with the Sheridan case and therefore remains an innocent man. These thoughts are entirely speculative, in light of information publicly available to date.

 

Today, in the midst of the storm regarding the now about to disappear News of the World (NotW) the Crown Office confirmed that it had asked Strathclyde Police to investigate the evidence of “certain witnesses” who gave evidence at the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial.

Clearly the Crown Office has not identified the parties involved, and no action has yet been taken regarding them, so it is appropriate to speculate as to whom, in and in relation to what, the police will be examining.

The first name springing to mind is Mr Coulson, former editor of the NotW and former Director of Communications for David Cameron.

Mr Coulson was called by Mr Sheridan to give evidence for the defence at the High Court in Glasgow in December 2010.

As always, my notes of what took place are based upon James Doleman’s marvellous Sheridan Trial Blog, found at http://sheridantrial.blogspot.com. Some day all trials (of importance) will be covered this way.

So where might Mr Coulson have erred in his evidence?

 

Payments to Police Officers

This area is, on what has been made public so far, probably the most troubling for Mr Coulson. In connection with this issue, Mr Sheridan asked “did the News of the World pay corrupt police officers?” Mr Coulson replied, “Not to my knowledge”.

Now, according to press reports, the NotW has given confirmation to the police of payments connected to Mr Coulson to police. That, at first sight, seems an open and shut case. If Mr Coulson did authorise such payments, the surely he has committed perjury?

But he was asked if the NotW paid “corrupt” police officers. Therefore he could say that the NotW did not pay “corrupt” officers, but instead paid honest ones. As the wise blogger and Twitterer @loveandgarbage pointed out, the Prevention of Corruption legislation makes payments like this illegal both by the donor and the recipient. However, if Mr Coulson believed these were legitimate payments, tied in perhaps with the “crime fighting” role of the NotW, then the fact that, in law, recipients of the payments were ipso facto “corrupt” would not be enough, in my view, to establish perjury. Ignorance of the law cannot make a statement false where the person believes it to be true.

If Mr Sheridan had still bee represented, then the questioning would probably have been in more depth and detail (if of course Counsel had agreed to call this witness and follow this line).

If Mr Coulson had given the same reply to a question as to whether the NotW had paid any officers, he would be in clear difficulties. After all, he sat beside Rebekah Wade, as she then was, when she told the House of Commons Committee that the NotW had paid police officers.

One interesting practical point is whether or not Mr Coulson ought to have been cautioned by the judge before he answered the question that he was not required to answer it, where there was a risk he might incriminate himself in a criminal act. If so, could he argue that it would be an inappropriate act of the Lord Advocate under the Scotland Act to prosecute him for perjury in connection with that answer, where such a caution was not given?

After some thought, it seems that this would be an issue for any trial, but not a preliminary point. The case of Graham v HMA 1969 SLT 116 seems to deal with the issue. Here a challenge to the competency and relevancy of a perjury indictment failed where the accused had answered a potentially self incriminating question in a murder trial without the judge cautioning him. The court held that, as perjury was a separate matter from the original offence, that it was entirely proper for such a case to be tried in the absence of a caution. The court said that the issue could be addressed at trial, taking account of all the circumstances under which the evidence was given.

On balance therefore, the absence of a caution to Mr Coulson prior to that question did not render his answer inadmissible and so, as mentioned above, a charge of perjury would be competent.

 

Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman

Mr Coulson was asked about his departure from the NotW. After saying that he had “taken the ultimate responsibility and stepped down” he was asked what the crime committed by his staff member was. Coulson stated that it involved “illegal phone hacking” and that he had “no knowledge of it.”

Can it be proved with corroborated evidence that Mr Coulson did know regarding Mr Goodman at the time? Even if it was proved he knew that there was widespread phone hacking, can it be proved he was aware of the position re Mr Goodman at the relevant time. Mr Goodman would be, one would assume, a probable Crown witness in any such case, although, if it was his position that he was simply one “bad egg” he could be a defence witness, for what that might be worth.

 

Mr Sheridan asked if Mr Coulson knew of Mr Goodman’s association with Glenn Mulcaire. He replied that he had never had any contact with Mr Mulcaire and had not even known his name until Mr Mulcaire had been arrested. When asked regarding Mulcaire’s company, 9 Consultancy, he insisted, “I never met him, spoke to him or emailed him”.

Again, subject to the exact questions asked, can it be shown he had contacted, or even knew of Mulcaire? The mysteriously re-appearing emails (more of which later) might assist regarding that point. Mr Mulcaire would of course be a compellable witness in any perjury proceedings. Whilst he failed to appear at the Sheridan trial, as a result of medically certificated ill health, one can imagine he would definitely be asked to attend such proceedings as we are contemplating here.

 

After discussing the £105,000 per annum contractual payment to Mulcaire’s company, Mr Coulson was asked about other payments made to Mr Mulcaire. He told the court that there were other payments but these had happened “without my knowledge”.

One would imagine a paper trail will exist re payments being made to third parties, even for a business with such a large budget as the NotW. Is Mr Coulson’s name on any of these?

 

Mr Sheridan asked who else had their voicemails “hacked” to which Mr Coulson answered that it was a “matter of record”. He was pressed on this, and Mr Coulson replied that he understood “five other individuals” had been mentioned as having their voicemails intercepted.

The latest information publicised from the police suggests there are thousands of people affected. Was Mr Coulson saying what he believed the position was at the time, or was he stating his understanding as at December 2010? Here again ambiguity of questioning can make it impossible to establish perjury.

 

On the second day of Mr Coulson’s testimony, Mr Sheridan asked him if the NotW had made payments to Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman after their release from prison. Mr Coulson stated that this had happened after he had left the NotW and he had “no knowledge” about any payments.

Short of a smoking gun with his name on it (sorry for the mixed metaphor) it’s hard to see how that answer, could give rise to any case now. He was not denying the payment, strictly, but stating he had no knowledge. Forgetting could be a legitimate reason for having no knowledge.

 

Mr Sheridan asked if Mr Coulson had emailed Mr Goodman asking him to “take the blame for the good of the paper”. Mr Coulson responded “No, I’m positive, do you have that email, Mr Sheridan?” Mr Sheridan replied that “Mr Goodman has been cited. Perhaps we will hear from him.” However we did not.

On one view, Mr Coulson’s answer could be construed as an admission, but in reality there could only be case re this if the email was discovered, either in the NotW archives, or coming from Mr Goodman. However, stating that he was “positive” might cause Mr Coulson difficulties if it did exist and was discovered.

 

Mr Sheridan came back to Glenn Mulcaire and the notebook found in his papers by police. Mr Coulson denied that he had any knowledge of this or that the News of the World in London had instructed Glenn Mulcaire to “hack” Mr Sheridan’s phone.

Again, what might Mr Mulcaire say, and what evidence would there be to corroborate that, if he disagreed with Mr Coulson?

 

 

News of the World Practices

Mr Sheridan asked Mr Coulson if the “News of the World employed people who broke the law.” The witness replied that “we did not seek to but it is obvious we did with Clive Goodman” but denied he had employed “convicted criminals.”

One of Private Eye’s regular features involved mentioning Fleet Street staff who were convicted of various offences, whether of drunkenness or assault. Sadly I do not have time just now to go through my 30 years’ back issues of the Eye to see whether any of these stories popped up under Mr Coulson’s charge. Interestingly, a perjury charge on this issue might fall foul of the need that the perjured statement needs to be relevant to the case. If therefore it could be shown the NotW employed a convicted criminal under Mr Coulson, then, unless it is connected to the alleged hacking, it would not found a perjury case.

Mr Sheridan asked Mr Coulson if his newspaper “printed lies” to which he responded “We try not to.”

People might disagree, but that answer won’t form part of a perjury charge.

 

The McNeilage Tape

Mr Coulson was asked about his role in the purchase of “the McNeilage tape.” This was a video tape prepared by Mr Sheridan’s former friend and colleague, Mr McNeilage, where Mr Sheridan was recorded effectively admitting perjury. Mr Sheridan had denied that the voice on the tape was his (the participant not being clearly seen) or stated that it had been concocted from recordings of his voice. Mr Coulson told the court that he had been alerted to the existence of the tape by Bob Bird, the NotW’s Scottish editor (whose own testimony will be addressed later). Mr Sheridan asked Mr Coulson if he had seen him in the tape, to which Mr Coulson responded “I heard your voice” as he had compared that to other recordings of Mr Sheridan speaking.  Mr Sheridan asked if the witness had heard “private eye recordings of my voice.” To this Mr Coulson replied “I don’t believe I did.”

Even if it could be shown that Mr Coulson had listened to such recordings, his answer is not specific enough to found a case.

Sean Hoare

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness about an article in the New York Times which had quoted an ex-NotW journalist Sean Hoare http://nyti.ms/aCuDeN. Mr Sheridan put it to Mr Coulson that Mr Hoare had claimed, in the article, that he had been told to “employ the dark arts” by Mr Coulson himself.  To this Mr Coulson replied that he had “no recollection of doing so.”

A failed recollection, even if shown to be wrong, won’t found a perjury case. Again, more forensic questioning about Mr Coulson’s dealings with Mr Hoare might have led him into difficulties.

 

Steve Whittamore

Mr Sheridan was then asked about another private investigator involved in the matter, Steve Whittamore. Mr Coulson told the court that he had never had any dealings with Mr Whittamore or asked anyone else to deal with him. Mr Sheridan asked Mr Coulson if Mr Whittamore had been used by the News of the World “while you were boss”. Mr Coulson said he did not know. Mr Sheridan then said that Steve Whittamore had been convicted in 2005 and this had happened “under your watch”. Mr Coulson said he had not been involved with Mr Whittamore “in any way, shape or form”.

 

Mr Whittamore too would be compellable as a witness. Would he state that he had had dealings with Mr Coulson?

 

 

Legal Costs

Mr Sheridan then asked if News International (NI) was paying Mr Coulson’s legal costs. He replied “I certainly hope so” explaining that as the case related to his employment with News International they would be expected to meet his legal bills. I am sure that was correct at the time. Should he be arrested tomorrow (Friday) will they still be covering his costs? Will NI be funding his defence wither prosecuted in Scotland or England?

 

Conclusion

Will Mr Coulson face a perjury trial? It is possible that he might. The transcripts of his evidence, and every word thereof, will be trawled over. My thoughts are based on an excellent contemporaneous record of the trial, but one which could not be a verbatim report. There may well be nuances I have missed, or events seen in the trial itself, such as Mr Coulson’s apparent wink to Mr Sheridan as he finally left the witness box.

Is it appropriate that the matter be investigated? Of course it is. Here, in the highest profile perjury case in Scotland for many a year, it is alleged that a senior journalist, with connections to the Government, may have lied on oath. The Crown Office would have been criticised if it had failed to look at these concerns, though since the allegations re the NotW phone hacking have been about for a long time, it might be asked what evidence in particular has prompted the Crown Office decision today, rather than before. Perhaps the front pages of the newspapers qualifies as the necessary “evidence” to prompt the inquiry, bearing in Mind Mr Sheridan’s solicitor, Mr Anwar, stated some time ago that his phone had been hacked by, he suspected, the NotW.

If Mr Coulson is not pursued re perjury, is he in the clear?

Clearly the English courts may well have an interest in connection with the phone hacking and police payment allegations. I will happily leave that issue to commentators better versed in English Law than I am.

 

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News of the World Hackgate and the Police Investigation – Part 1

 

As the perfect storm of publicity finally hits home at News International, and in advance of the Parliamentary debate secured by Chris Bryant today, it is worth looking at the role of the police in the progress, or otherwise, of the investigation.

DCS Phil Williams of the Metropolitan Police was the Senior Officer in Operation Caryatid, the investigation which led to the arrest and imprisonment of Glenn Mulcaire, the investigator working for the News of the World (NotW), and Clive Goodman, the Royal editor. He gave evidence at the trial of Tommy Sheridan at the High Court in Glasgow in December 2010.

Thanks to the excellent Sheridan Trial Blog (located at http://sheridantrial.blogspot.com and for which Mr James Doleman deserves a million thanks) we can see details of DCS Williams’ evidence before Lord Bracadale.

The relevant links are http://sheridantrial.blogspot.com/2010/12/detective-chief-inspector-phil-williams.html and http://sheridantrial.blogspot.com/2010/12/detective-chief-superintendent-phil.html.

Both are worth a read in full, as is the whole site.

Some points are worth focussing on in detail in light of recent events, and the criticism of the police inquiry. In particular, there is evidence of the lengths to which the Metropolitan Police went to investigate the case as it related to the News of the World (the answer – not far!) and the view by the Police of the evidence that was uncovered.

DCS Williams was called by Mr Sheridan as a witness. Interestingly, at a number of points in his examination, DCS Williams objected to questions from Mr Sheridan himself! In each case he was directed to answer. It is clear that the officer was less than comfortable being quizzed about the investigation in this way. He told the judge that he did not see how the questions were relevant. At one point he complained that he had not been told of the questions in advance and had thought he had only been due to testify on “the provenance of the documents we supplied.” He stated that he was “not properly aware of the questions to give accurate answers.” DCS Williams also suggested that, as there was an ongoing judicial review into the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the investigation, that his answers might prejudice that. Lord Bracadale directed him to answer. The High Court of Justiciary was not going to let the witness of the hook like that.

Police Inquiry into The News of the World

DCS Williams explained that the inquiry he headed had been into Messrs Mulcaire and Goodman. When asked if it had spread wider he said, “Not that I’m aware of.”

Mr Sheridan later asked DCS Williams if during his inquiries he had “spoken to anyone else at the News of the World”. In light of present developments what seemed a bizarre answer then becomes even more ridiculous.

 

DCS Williams replied he had “not prior to the arrests” and afterwards he had worked “through their solicitors”.

 

Mr Sheridan asked, “You arrest the Royal Editor of the News of the World, arrest Glen Mulcaire and never speak to anyone else?” DCS Williams responded that it was all done via solicitors and he had a “legal process to follow”.

 

DCS Williams confirmed that Mr Mulcaire’s contract with NotW, showing a payment of £105,000 had been recovered by the police. It was signed by Greg Miskiw, a NotW executive. Mr Sheridan asked DCS Williams if Mr Miskiw had been interviewed. He had not. Mr Sheridan (and the tone of bafflement comes clearly through the question) asked, “You arrested Glenn Mulcaire for a criminal act and the person who signed the contract you don’t interview?” DCS Williams replied “We did not.”

 

Mr Sheridan asked the witness if, after they had arrested Clive Goodman, the police had asked him to whom he was responsible. DCS Williams replied that Mr Goodman had “refused to answer any questions.”

 

It causes some concern that the Metropolitan Police were not aware that a newspaper editor would be responsible for his journalists, as Mr Sheridan indeed followed through on by suggesting that as the NotW was a newspaper, the editor would be in charge.

 

Mr Sheridan asked if the police had interviewed the then editor, Andy Coulson. DCS Williams replied that the inquiry had not interviewed Mr Coulson.

 

Mr Sheridan then asked DCS Williams who else in the NotW he had spoken to about their relationship with Glenn Mulcaire. DCS Williams told the court he had taken “lengthy legal advice” and had made inquiries to the News of the World for information but was told it could not be provided as “they did not have it.” Mr Sheridan asked why DCS Williams had not obtained a “court order” to get information. DCS Williams replied that he had to go through a “process” and as the NotW had cooperated he was “not entitled to get a court order.”

 

Mr Sheridan asked the witness if the solicitors for the NotW had been cooperative, DCS Williams replied he had “no reason to think otherwise”.

 

Mr Sheridan referred to the House of Commons Select Committee Report into the “phone hacking” issue and specifically the evidence given to that committee that the NotW’s solicitors had “been robust” about giving out information and that the police inquiry had “been left in isolation, literally ,with not enough evidence to pursue” Asked by Mr Sheridan if this appeared to show that the NotW’s lawyers had not been cooperating DCS Williams replied that he had asked questions and been told that no such documents existed. The witness added that he had “no reason to doubt the solicitors” and had been advised by a Queens Counsel and the Crown Prosecution Service and had then used the process they had advised.

 

Mr Sheridan asked about notebooks found in Mr Mulcaire’s home by the police which had details of Mr Sheridan’s name, address, mobile telephone number and PIN codes. Mr Sheridan asked DCS Williams about a name, written in the corner and asked if this could be “Greg.” DCS Williams agreed that it could. Mr Sheridan asked if the police had investigated the possibility that this referred to Greg Miskiw. The witness said he had not and again insisted he had gone as far in “pursuing” the News of the World as the law allowed.

 

DCS Williams told the court that the investigation had found “no evidence of a conspiracy at the News of the World.” Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that he had hardly, “pursued the News of the World” as the police had “not even interviewed Greg Miskiw.”

 

DCS Williams answered Mr Sheridan by stating that it was his “belief that I would have no legal basis to arrest or interview” Mr Miskiw. In answer to the only question in cross examination by the prosecution, DCS Williams stated that he had no relationship with the News of the World and had “pushed the law as far as I could go.”

What was laid out here by a senior Met Police officer is troubling, to say the least. I make no accusation against DCS Williams, who I am sure is a fine Police Officer with a long and distinguished career. However, to the outside observer, there are clearly matters which require clarification.

 

Why did the police not interview anyone at the NotW?

 

Why were the police unaware that the editor might be responsible for his staff without Mr Goodman telling them that?

 

Did the police ask to interview people at the NotW via the solicitors and if so, were they rebuffed?

 

If so, what grounds were there for refusing to be interviewed? Presumably at this stage these witnesses at the NotW would have been viewed not as suspects?

 

What did the Met Police do when told that no documents existed? I am sure there are many people who would like to tell the police that there is no documentation regarding what the police want to know about. That’s why there are rules and procedures in place to allow the police to look for such documents. I can’t imagine it’s standard procedure simply to accept the word of the witness that there are no documents.

 

Why did the police not interview the person “employing” Mr Mulcaire and paying him £105,000 per annum?

 

Was it the case that DCS Williams found no evidence of a conspiracy at the NotW simply because no effort as made to look for one?

 

Obviously the judicial review proceedings have laid bare many of the flaws in the Met’s handling of this matter, but even as recently as December 2010 the police seemed to be of the view that their inquiry had been “robust” and that they had “pushed the law as far as (they) could go.”

 

Hopefully the Parliamentary Debate will allow these matters top be aired, and at some point soon answers to be given.

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