Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Murdoch’

REVIEW — UNTOLD: THE DANIEL MORGAN MURDER EXPOSED

June 26, 2017

final-book-jacket

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Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed
Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes
(Blink Publishing, hardback £14.99, ebook £9.99)
Reviewed by Paddy French

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THIS BOOK tells the story of two young men.

In March 1987 a Welsh private detective called Daniel Morgan was axed to death in south London.

The 37-year-old left behind a widow and two small children.

He also left behind an older brother, Alastair, who made a vow to bring his killers to book.

Alastair wasn’t to know that his pledge would mean he would have to devote the rest of his life to the cause.

It’s been, in effect, a life sentence — with the rest of his personal and professional life taking a back seat to the campaign.

For three decades he’s waged a battle to get police, media and the political establishment to take his brother’s brutal murder seriously.

But, despite five police investigations costing millions of pounds, no-one has ever been convicted of the murder …

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“UNTOLD” EXAMINES the scandal from two angles.

One is Alastair’s gruelling year-by-year account of his meetings with obstructive senior police officers and politicians.

Some of the story is told by his partner Kirsteen, a BBC journalist.

The other narrative is a dispassionate account of the case by the writer Peter Jukes.

DANIEL MORGAN

DANIEL MORGAN
FOR THIRTY years his family, led by older brother Alastair, has battled to bring the killers to book. One of the biggest obstacles was police corruption in the original investigation.
Photo: courtesy of the Morgan family

He came across the case while covering the hacking scandal.

He then produced the award-winning Untold podcast series about Daniel’s murder which attracted four million listeners across the world.

From that came this book.

At first sight, of course, the title is misleading.

The story is far from “untold” — it’s been reported extensively by some newspapers, especially the Guardian, and has featured in two important books.

There was a chapter on the murder in both former BBC reporter Graeme McLagan’s Bent Coppers (2002) and Untouchables by Laurie Flynn and Michael Gillard (2004).

The case has also featured on the BBC programme Crimewatch.

There have also been many regional TV documentaries.

I made several while I was a producer at ITV’s Wales This Week current affairs series — Daniel’s father was Welsh and Daniel and Alastair grew up in south Wales.

I also helped to persuade colleagues on the London Programme to cover the story in 2004.

Press Gang readers will also be aware of the long series The No 1 Corrupt Detective Agency.

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BUT IN A more fundamental sense, the title is right on the money.

The scandal has never received the attention it deserves.

To see why, you only have to compare it with the killing of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence in south London in April 1993.

Within five years of Stephen’s murder there was a full-scale public inquiry — headed by Sir William Macpherson — which branded the Metropolitan Police as institutionally racist.

It took the Morgan family 26 years to get the political establishment to pay any attention — and even then it was far from the public inquiry they wanted.

In 2013 Home Secretary Theresa May set up the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel.

THERESA MAY

THERESA MAY
IN 2013 — more than quarter of a century after the murder — Home Secretary Theresa May established the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel. Headed by Baroness O’Loan, the panel meets in secret and is moving at a snail’s pace. Its report will not be published until next year …
Photo: PA

Macpherson took less than two years to produce his report — the Daniel Morgan Panel, which carried out its investigations in private, is still writing theirs.

Stephen’s family also got the dramatic backing of the Daily Mail in 1997 when the paper famously branded the five main suspects as murderers.

In stark contrast, recent coverage by Daily Mail stablemate, the Mail on Sunday, has indulged in a smear campaign against Daniel Morgan.

The Macpherson Inquiry also led to the end of the ‘double jeopardy’ rule — that a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offence — which led to two of Stephen’s assailants being convicted in 2012.

In 2008 the five men suspected of involvement in Daniel’s murder were charged but the case, dogged by unreliable witnesses and missing documents, collapsed.

So why has the Daniel Morgan case not attracted the same level of attention as the Stephen Lawrence murder?

Untold comes up with two inter-locking reasons

— a substantial number of corrupt police detectives with connections to the London underwood and

— their connections with Fleet Street journalists, in particular those working for Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.

The private detective agency Daniel Morgan worked for — Southern Investigations — became one of the key brokers between the two groups in the years following the murder.

At the root of it all is a failure of regulation.

Attempts to introduce proper regulation of the police — especially in relation to corruption — have failed.

The current regulator, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is seen as generally ineffective.

At the same time, Scotland Yard has jealously guarded its right to investigate internal corruption.

It’s proved inadequate to the task.

The same is true of journalism.

The lack of ethics at Rupert Murdoch’s papers has seen its reporters sink ever deeper into corruption and criminality.

The News of the World, the Sun and the Sunday Times have all been tarnished by this descent.

Other papers, most notably the Daily Mirror under former Murdoch protegé Piers Morgan, were dragged into the mire.

The Daily Mail was also dabbling in the “dark arts” of unlawful news gathering.

This led to a reluctance by most papers to cover the Daniel Morgan case because it risked exposing their own wrong-doing.

157_ALASTAIR:ISOBEL

FLOWERS FOR DANIEL
DANIEL’S OLDER brother Alastair and his mother Isobel lay flowers on the spot in a south London pub carpark where Daniel was axed to death. 
Photo: PA

Only the Guardian resisted the tide — and, in Nick Davies, had the reporter who would eventually expose the sewer.

Unless there’s a fundamental overhaul of the way the police and the press are regulated, it’s inevitable there will be more scandals like Daniel Morgan. 

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“UNTOLD” IS an important book — but it could have been even better.

The first drawback is the authors’ decision to end their account in 2013 — four years ago.

Since then there has been a major development.

Four of the five men charged with the murder brought a civil action against the Metropolitan Police for malicious prosecution.

Earlier this year — as reported in the Pesss Gang article The Business Of Murder — Judge Mitting rejected the claim.

The judge did award substantial damages to one suspect, ex-Scotland Yard detective Sidney Fillery.

This dramatic case is briefly mentioned in the book’s Afterword but a full account could easily have been included.

The book would also benefit from a detailed timeline.

However, the most serious shortcoming is the lack of an index.

For a book destined to become a key textbook this is an essential tool.

The authors say they’ll put most of these matters right in a second edition when the report of the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel is published.

Despite these flaws, Untold remains one of the most important books ever written about the relationship between the media and the police.

As former Prime Minister Gordon Brown puts in his dedication at the beginning of the book:

“One story about the media has already been told — the tale of phone hacking.”

“Another equally sinister chapter — involving a raft of unanswered allegations about … interference with the process of justice — has yet to be told.”

“Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes’ book is an important contribution to that story.”

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COMING
A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
THE MAGAZINE Private Eye is continuing its lone campaign to have Dave Cook — the detective in charge of the failed prosecution of the prime suspects in the Daniel Morgan murder — prosecuted for perverting the course of justice. This is despite the family’s insistence that it would be “a travesty of justice” to make him a “scapegoat” for thirty years of failures by Scotland Yard. Press Gang examines the case against Cook …

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NOTES
1
Press Gang has reported the scandal for many years — see the Daniel Morgan page for a list of the articles published.
2
The sister website to Press Gang Rebeccahas also reviewed Untold from a Welsh perspective. Click here to read it.

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PRIVATE EYE: SHAMELESS

March 11, 2017

 

Private_Eye_head_a

FOR DECADES Private Eye has hammered Britain’s national press in its celebrated Street of Shame column.

The magazine has pilloried the hypocrisy that often passes for news in papers owned by Rupert Murdoch and Lord Rothermere.

But now Parliament plans to curb the power of media billionaires, the Eye is supporting them.

Editor Ian Hislop has joined the chorus of protest at the proposed introduction of a key component of the bid to make newspapers more accountable.

Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 makes publishers potentially liable for all costs in libel actions if they are not members of a regulator approved by the Press Recognition Panel (PRP).

The Panel was established by Royal Charter in 2013 following the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics.

The Royal Charter can only be amended by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament — and with the unanimous approval of the members of the Panel itself.

The Panel is not a regulator — its board only has the power recognise independent regulators who meet the conditions laid out in the Royal Charter.

This mechanism insulates regulators from the influence of politicians.

private-eye-logo

In October 2016 the Panel recognised the regulator Impress which is funded by charities controlled by the businessman Max Mosley.

Mosley plays no part in the running of the organisation.

The decision to recognise Impress makes it possible to introduce Section 40 and the government are now consulting on whether it should to do so.

Press Gang and its sister website Rebecca are both in the process of joining Impress.

No national publisher has signed up to Impress.

Instead, the Murdoch papers (Times, Sun and Sunday Times), the Daily MailTelegraphMirror and Express have created the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

This is a reworking of the old Press Complaints Commissions — heavily discredited in the hacking scandal.

IPSO has not applied to the Press Recognition Panel to become a recognised regulator.

A series of newspapers — the Financial TimesGuardianObserverIndependentEvening Standard — have decided not to join either IPSO or Impress.

They have their own in-house arrangements for  complaints.

Private Eye, which has traditionally refused to join any regulator, openly admits it has no code of conduct or written editorial guidelines.

It handles complaints internally and informally.

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IN THE week when IMPRESS was recognised Private Eye was celebrating a major victory.

Retired North Wales police superintendent Gordon Anglesea was gaoled in October 2016 on historic child abuse charges.

In the early 1990s the Eye, HTV, the Observer and the Independent on Sunday claimed Anglesea was a child abuser..

In 1994 Anglesea won a libel action and the four media companies paid him £375,000 in damages — and had to pay his legal costs as well as their own.

When Anglesea was gaoled, the Eye [28 October 2016) claimed Section 40 would make it “easier for any future Anglesea to sue publications like Private Eye with impunity.”

gordon-anglesea-custody-picture-confirmed-by-alan-norbury-8-9-16

GORDON ANGLESEA
IT IS deeply ironic Private Eye should use the case of Gordon Anglesea to bolster its case against Section 40. In fact, having had its fingers burnt in the libel action in 1994, the Eye largely turned its back on the North Wales child abuse scandal. It was left to Rebecca, the sister website of Press Gang, to carry the torch of investigative journalism into this dark corner of British history. In 2010 Rebecca began publishing the results of a decade’s research, exposing the failure of the £14 million North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal to find out what really happened. For more on this campaign, see here
Photo: National Crime Agency

This is, according to the Eye, because Section 40 states that if a publisher who is not a member of a recognised regulator “the court must award costs against the defendant.”

“In plain English,” the Eye continues, “even if we won the case, we would still have to pay all the bills.”

This is nonsense — and Eye editor Ian Hislop knows it.

Section 40 does indeed say “the court must award costs against the defendant” but it also immediately goes on to say:

“unless … it is just and equitable in all the circumstances of the case to award costs against the defendant.”

In other words, it depends on the circumstances and it is the judge who has the final say.

In a case where a newspaper or magazine wins a libel action against an alleged child abuser, it is inconceivable it would be forced to pay the paedophile’s legal bill.

The Eye’s biased portrayal of the act is the type of propaganda its “Street of Shame” column lampoons when it appears in the Daily MailTelegraph and the Sun ...

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PRIVATE EYE also subscribes to the view that Section 40 would stifle investigative journalism.

It has relaunched the £5,000 Paul Foot Award and describes it in these terms:

“In honour of Section 40 … Private Eye is once again awarding a prize for investigative or campaigning journalism in the memory of Paul Foot.”

In other words, the relaunching of the Paul Foot Award is also an attack on Section 40.

But Section 40 is not a threat to investigative journalism.

The part of Section 40 which the Eye misrepresented also has a similar clause protecting investigative journalists working for a recognised regulator.

PAUL FOOT AWARDA recognised regulator has to have a cheap and efficient arbitration service to try to settle complaints.

If a complainant could use the regulator’s arbitration service but chooses to go to court instead, then — even if he or she wins the case — the  judge has the power to make them pay their own costs.

This is why Press Gang is joining Impress.

For more than 30 years editor Paddy French has been an investigative reporter.

He founded Rebecca as a magazine in 1973 and its Corruption Supplement saw many of the councillors and businessmen it exposed go to prison.

Several Rebecca investigations were picked up by the Sunday Times when Harry Evans was editor, before Rupert Murdoch bought the title.

French also worked as an independent TV producer making investigative programmes for ITV and BBC.

In 1994 he produced, with the late Ray Fitzwalter, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Privateers on Parade about the de-nationalisation of Britain’s utilities.

Independent broadcasting has always been subject to regulation by a body created by but independent of Parliament.

“Throughout my career in television,” says French, “I was subject to regulation, first by the Independent Broadcasting Authority and then, after 2002, by Ofcom.”

“These were demanding regulators policed by in-house legal teams.”

“Far from stifling investigations, the effect was to produce bullet-proof programmes — maintaining high standards is one of the reasons I have never been successfully sued.”

“What is being proposed for newspapers is similar to the regime for broadcasters.”

“Press regulation will liberate investigative journalism and curb the arbitrary of billionaire proprietors.”

“It’s very sad that Private Eye — an absolutely essential critic of the mainstream press — should now be getting into bed with the worst of them.”

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FOR SOME months the anti-Section 40 propaganda machine has dominated the national debate.

But this is beginning to change.

The powerful cross-party House of Commons Culture, Media & Sport Committee recently responded to the government’s consultation on Section 40.

It criticised the media campaign against it:

“some of the arguments put forward were, in our view, unconvincing and misleading …”

Attacking the Devil premiere - London

SIR HARRY EVANS
THE MANCHESTER-BORN journalist edited the Sunday Times between 1967 and 1981.The paper was recognised as one of the world’s leading campaigning and investigative newspapers, famous for its investigative “Insight” team and its relentless campaign to get justice for the victims of the thalidomide scandal. Evans calls on the Guardian and the Financial Times to join Impress.
Photo: PA

It, too, rejects the argument Section 40 will have a “chilling effect” on investigative journalism:

“… the high-profile press campaign has also not set out the benefits which commencement of Section 40 would have in protecting publishers, editors and journalists if they were part of [a recognised regulator] and therefore reducing the chilling effect of high court costs on investigative journalism”

At the beginning of March, former Sunday Times editor Sir Harry Evans became a patron of Impress.

Impress is a tremendous impetus and safeguard for investigative journalism,”he said.

Evans added:

“I support these proposals for a regulator that would be wholly independent of government or commercial interests, committed only to enhancing the standards of the British press.

“The dual purpose of discouraging abuses and resisting encroachments on an essential liberty is altogether necessary to restore public confidence.”

“It’s a necessary condition of the freedom of the press to act in the public interest.”

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Published: 11 March 2017
© Press Gang
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Note
See also the Private Eye page.

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COMING
A STAB IN THE BACK 
Press Gang examines the Private Eye coverage of the latest stage in the scandal of  the unsolved 1987 murder of the private detective Daniel Morgan. This month four of the prime suspects lost their High Court action against the Metropolitan Police for maliciously prosecuting them in connection with the murder. One of them, a retired Scotland Yard detective, will receive substantial damages for misfeasance in public office. Press Gang believes four articles in the Eye’s investigative section “In The Back” on this case are seriously misleading  …

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THE PEOPLE v. MURDOCH

January 12, 2016

Murdoch_series_head_1

AT THE beginning of 2016 Rupert Murdoch once again dominates British media.

David Cameron is back on side.

Juries have refused to convict Sun journalists of bribing corrupt police officers.

The threat of a tough new media regulator has all but vanished.

In September Murdoch felt strong enough to rehabilitate his beloved Rebekah Brooks.

In December the most dangerous threat — the possibility of corporate charges — was lifted.

Today, the billionaire is more powerful than ever.

But all is not lost.

There are millions of people on three continents who oppose him.

Today Press Gang launches a new campaign — The People versus Murdoch.

We’ve found an important chink in the media mogul’s armour …

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THIS MORNING Press Gang sent a four page letter to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

We asked chief executive Sharon White to launch an inquiry into whether Rupert Murdoch and his family are “fit and proper” people to be involved in the satellite television company BSkyB.

Ofcom has this duty under the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996.

The watchdog looked at the issue back in September 2012 when the phone hacking scandal was at its height.

(Its report can be read here.)

Ofcom criticised Murdoch’s son James, who was in charge of the News of the World, for his handling of the crisis.

It found his actions:

” … fell short of the exercise of responsibility to be expected of the chief executive officer …”

But there wasn’t enough evidence to declare him unfit.

PRIME CONCERNS FOUR DAYS before Christmas the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members attended a private party at the London home of Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, Cameron told Parliament: "The truth is, we have all been in this together. The press, the politicians and the leaders of all parties — and, yes, that includes me ... Throughout all this, all the warnings, all the concern, the government at the time did nothing." The party — reported only by the Guardian — shows Cameron and Murdoch are now comfortably back in harness, "in this together"... Photo: PA

PRIME CONCERNS
FOUR DAYS before Christmas the Prime Minister and several Cabinet members attended a private party at the London home of Rupert Murdoch. In 2011, at the height of the hacking scandal, Cameron told Parliament: “The truth is, we have all been in this together. The press, the politicians and the leaders of all parties — and, yes, that includes me … Throughout all this, all the warnings, all the concern, the government at the time did nothing.” The party — reported only by the Guardian — shows Cameron and Murdoch are now comfortably back in harness, “in this together”…
Photo: PA

Of Rupert Murdoch it said there was no evidence he’d behaved inappropriately.

But Ofcom also made it clear that it was working “on the evidence available to date”.

It added:

“As Ofcom’s duty to be satisfied that licensees remain fit and proper is ongoing, should further material evidence become available, Ofcom would need to consider that evidence in light of its duty.”

Since that statement an enormous amount of new material has come into the public domain.

Ofcom has confirmed it has not considered this evidence.

Press Gang has now asked it to do so …

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FOUR MONTHS after Ofcom published its findings, Lord Justice Leveson produced his report.

He was much more critical of the Murdoch family than Ofcom.

On the response of senior management to the phone hacking scandal, he noted:

” … the evidence … points to a serious failure of governance within the NoTW [News of the World], NI [News International] and News Corporation.”

The key point here is that Lord Leveson’s criticisms extended all the way to the top of the empire.

Leveson said:

“If News Corporation management, and in particular Rupert Murdoch, were aware of the allegations, it is obvious that action should have been taken to investigate them.”

“If News Corporation were not aware of the allegations which, as Rupert Murdoch has said, have cost the corporation many hundreds of millions of pounds, then there would appear to have been a significant failure in corporate governance …”

A SERIOUS FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE LORD JUSTICE LEVESON took a long, hard look at the Murdoch empire — and wasn't impressed by what he saw. But his report is just half of the exercise — when David Cameron announced the inquiry back in July 2011 he said it would take place in two parts. The second part, to be held after all the criminal trials are over, "will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen." Although almost all cases have now been heard, Cameron is using the fact that a few are still in the pipeline to delay making an announcement. Rupert Murdoch is desperate to make sure it does not happen ... Photo: PA

A SERIOUS FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE
LORD JUSTICE LEVESON took a long, hard look at the Murdoch empire — and didn’t like what he saw. But his report is just half of the exercise — when David Cameron announced the inquiry back in July 2011 he said it would take place in two parts. The second part, to be held after all the criminal trials are over, “will examine the extent of unlawful or improper conduct at the News of the World and other newspapers, and the way in which management failures may have allowed it to happen.” Although almost all cases have now been heard, Cameron is using the fact that a few are still in the pipeline to delay making an announcement. Rupert Murdoch is desperate to make sure it does not happen …
Photo: PA

Leveson examined one of the key issues of the phone hacking saga.

This was the meeting in June 2008 where James Murdoch met with News International’s legal manager Tom Crone to discuss legal action taken by hacking victim Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

Taylor’s lawyers had obtained a devastating document — the celebrated “for Neville” email — which contained transcripts of 35 voicemail messages.

Tom Crone took this email to the meeting — and told James Murdoch it shattered the company’s public insistence that phone hacking was restricted to just one “rogue reporter”.

James Murdoch denied Crone told him this.

Murdoch agreed to settle the case for the colossal sum of £425,000 providing Taylor agreed to keep it confidential.

When Ofcom examined this issue, it concluded Crone’s evidence was not:

” … sufficient to demonstrate that James Murdoch was made fully aware of the implications of the evidence disclosed in the Taylor litigation at the time he authorised the payment.”

Lord Justice Leveson took a different view.

On the conflict between James Murdoch and Tom Crone he said:

“I … conclude that Mr Crone’s version of events as to what occurred on 10 June 2008 should be preferred to that of James Murdoch.”

This is just one dramatic part of the Leveson Inquiry that Ofcom should consider.

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WHEN OFCOM examined the fitness of Rupert Murdoch and his family back in 2012, its emphasis was on the phone hacking saga at the News of the World.

It wasn’t able to examine the corruption scandal which erupted in 2011 when News International handed over emails implicating scores of Sun journalists.

The result was Operation Elveden — the Metropolitan Police investigation into the bribing of public officials.

Many Sun journalists had been arrested but the sub judice rules prevented Ofcom from considering the issue in 2012.

In the years that followed, Elveden saw many public employees — including police officers and prison warders — convicted.

Almost all of the Sun journalists were cleared by juries.

SCARLET WOMAN AFTER FOUR years in the wilderness, Rebekah Brooks is back in charge of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers. Back in 2011 — a week after it was revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler — Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was. "This one", he said, pointing to Brooks. She was later arrested and charged but was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey in 2014. During the trial, it was revealed that during her marriage to the actor Ross Kemp, she'd had a secret affair with Andy Coulson ... Photo: PA

SCARLET WOMAN
AFTER FOUR years in the wilderness, Rebekah Brooks is back in charge of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers. Back in 2011 — a week after it was revealed the News of the World had hacked the phone of the murdered teenager Milly Dowler — Rupert Murdoch was asked what his priority was. “This one”, he said, pointing to Brooks. She was later arrested and charged but was cleared by a jury at the Old Bailey in 2014. During the trial, it was revealed that during her marriage to the actor Ross Kemp, she’d had a secret affair with Andy Coulson …
Photo: PA

Operation Elveden points to the Murdoch family tolerating a culture of paying corrupt public officials at both the News of the World and the Sun.

This culture was long-standing.

The practice was extensive — four public employees alone were paid a total of £146,000.

In 2004, press reports show the Sun paid sources £362,000 — an unspecified but clearly significant amount going to corrupt public employees.

Rebekah Brooks, Sun editor from 2003 to 2009, admitted at a Culture Media and Sport select committee hearing in 2003 that she had paid police officers for information.

Sitting at her side, News of the World editor Andy Coulson broke in to say they only did so “within the law”.

Chris Bryant MP told them paying police was unlawful.

Despite this clear warning, the Sun went on paying corrupt police officers for another eight years.

One of these was Surrey police detective Simon Quinn.

He’d been on the paper’s books since 2000 — and had supplied confidential information about the Milly Dowler case in 2002.

Quinn was later gaoled for 18 months after admitting taking £7,000 from the paper over a ten year period.

Press Gang has asked Ofcom to examine the implications of this scandal.

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IN ITS 2012 report, Ofcom considered Rupert Murdoch’s role in the “dark arts” saga.

“We do not consider that the evidence currently available to Ofcom provides a reasonable basis on which to conclude that Rupert Murdoch acted in a way that was inappropriate in relation to phone hacking, concealment or corruption by employees of … News International.”

Again, new evidence has since emerged which undermines that conclusion.

Two days after the hacking scandal erupted, in July 2011, Rupert Murdoch made a statement:

“Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable.”

This was his public, penitent face.

DEPLORABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE THOSE WERE the words Rupert Murdoch used when the news hacking scandal broke in 2011. But the media mogul has a habit of saying one thing in public — and another in private. In 2013 he was recorded telling a private meeting of Sun journalists that, well, after all, paying cops was part of the general culture of Fleet Street ... Photo: PA

DEPLORABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE
THOSE WERE the words Rupert Murdoch used when the news hacking scandal broke in 2011. But the media mogul has a habit of saying one thing in public — and another in private. In 2013 he was recorded telling a private meeting of Sun journalists that, well, after all, paying police was just part of the general culture of Fleet Street …
Photo: PA

But he also knew News Corporation — worried about corporate charges that might destroy the business — had just handed over a huge cache of emails incriminating Sun journalists.

There was no mention of this in his statement.

In March 2013 he agreed to meet Sun journalists.

Morale at the paper was at rock bottom: many journalists felt colleagues had been thrown to the wolves.

The meeting was recorded by one of the reporters.

In a discussion about the possibility of Sun journalists being charged for paying public officials, Murdoch said:

” … I don’t know of anybody, or anything, that did anything that wasn’t being done across Fleet Street and wasn’t the culture.”

Another journalist said:

“You referred to, you used the phrase, things were done at the Sun for over 40 years. I personally have been here for less than ten. But I’m pretty confident that the working practices I’ve seen here were ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated.”

He asked:

“Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”

Murdoch’s reply couldn’t have been clearer:

“We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years.”

“You didn’t instigate it.”

Rupert Murdoch not only knew police officers were being paid by his journalists.

He approved of it.

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IF OFCOM launches an inquiry, it will be a major blow to Rupert Murdoch’s plans.

Any investigation will take months, if not years.

It will be impossible for Murdoch to launch a bid to buy the remaining 61 per cent of Sky he does not own while it’s taking place.

How can David Cameron’s government agree to his complete takeover if Ofcom is considering whether Murdoch is a “fit and proper” person to be involved in the broadcaster at all?

Press Gang has promised to submit a full statement to Ofcom.

This will include all of the material which has emerged since Ofcom’s report in 2012.

It will also seek to widen the scope of any Ofcom investigation to the Sunday Times where there have also been allegations of illegal news-gathering.

It will also include new criticisms of Murdoch’s own internal watchdog — the Management and Standards Committee (MSC).

In 2012 Press Gang warned the committee that serious problems still existed in the company.

The MSC ignored the warning.

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NEXT The People v Murdoch examines the possibility of a private prosecution against Rupert Murdoch.

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CORRECTIONS Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

WITHERING HEIGHTS

November 22, 2014

Mahmood_head_with_words_04

THE PANORAMA exposé of Mazher Mahmood revealed the methods the “fake sheik” used at the News of the World and the Sun on Sunday.

But he also used the same unscrupulous tactics during his two spells on the Sunday Times.

Mahmood was a reporter in the 1980s and re-joined the paper for more than a year after the closure of the News of the World in 2011.

One man who knows about Mahmood’s troubled career is John Witherow, the current editor of The Times.

Witherow worked in the Sunday Times newsroom in the 1980s when many of Mahmood’s stories had to be corrected.

He was also there when Mahmood was fired in 1989 for tampering with computer records.

But after the death of the News of the World — by which time Witherow was Sunday Times editor — he still decided to take him on.

And, of course, Mahmood was soon up to his old tricks.

Press Gang investigates a sordid tale of journalistic prostitution.

♦♦♦ 

IN APRIL 2012 the Sunday Times carried a dramatic front page.

The headline — “100,000 women mutilated in UK”.

The paper claimed they’d been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM).

Reporters Mazher Mahmood and Eleanor Mills, the paper’s associate editor, said they had caught a doctor and a dentist:

“offering to circumcise girls as young as 10 or help to arrange for the procedure to be carried out.”

Female circumcision is illegal in the UK.

The detailed story of the undercover operation was carried on an inside double page spread.

A woman journalist, posing as a woman who wanted her nieces circumcised, went to see Dr Ali Mao-Aweys.

Dr Mao-Aweys operated a private clinic in Birmingham.

The paper recorded him saying:

“I have a doctor that will do [it].”

“He is here in Birmingham.”

He gave the undercover reporter the name of Birmingham dentist Omar Addow.

The reporter went to see the dentist.

Initially, according to the report, Addow was wary but eventually agreed to perform the operation:

“I’ll do it for you.”

“Okay, I’ll do it for you.”

“I need to organise very well … nobody should know [anything about] it — between you, me and Allah only.”

Earlier he had said he was opposed:

“It’s not allowed in this country,” he said.

“It’s really dangerous — you, everybody go to jail.”

MAZHER MAHMOOD THE PICTURE Rupert Murdoch's News UK tried to stop Panorama  on 12.   Photo: BBC

MAZHER MAHMOOD
THE PICTURE the “fake sheik” tried to stop Panorama showing in its November 12 programme. Judge Sir David Eady threw out an application that showing recent images would endanger him and his family.
Photo: BBC

“Myself, Omar, personally I am against the ritual circumcision of the female …”

The paper reported that he relaxed when the reporter mentioned Dr Mao-Aweys’ referral.

The reporter and the dentist then went to his nearby flat “to discuss the matter privately” where he agreed to carry out a limited form of the procedure.

The Sunday Times passed the evidence to the police.

Two weeks later Mazher Mahmood reported that the two men had been arrested.

He quoted West Midlands Detective Inspector Caroline Marsh:

“I am grateful to the Sunday Times for the information provided and we are currently investigating what we regard as very serious allegations.”

On the face of it, a fine piece of investigative work on a subject of national importance.

But the story soon began to unravel …

♦♦♦

IT STARTED just a few months later, in September 2012, when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided not to bring charges.

There was “insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.”

Harry Ireland, chief crown prosecutor for the West Midlands, was blunt:

“The main evidence in this case is from the undercover journalist or agent but she has consistently failed to sign her draft statement for the police despite being given every opportunity to do so over the past five months.”

He added:

“I also have concerns over discrepancies between her draft statement and the evidence from the covert recordings.”

“For example, at one stage, the covert recordings record the doctors refusing to help the woman with her request.”

“I am also troubled by the fact that the covert recordings disclose a time gap which is insufficiently accounted for when the undercover journalist or agent apparently went with one of the doctors from the surgery to his home.”

JOHN WITHEROW THE EDITOR of the Sunday Times didn't answer emails about Mazher mahmood until after Channel 4 News began to nvestigate ...  Photo: PA

JOHN MOORE WITHEROW
NOW EDITOR of The Times, Witherow has done nothing to bring Mazher Mahmood to book — even though he’s probably known that the “fake sheik” has been a rogue reporter for more than twenty years.
Photo: PA

“Unless there is a very compelling explanation for this, the covert evidence is very unlikely to be admissible in evidence.”

“That evidence has not been forthcoming.”

“A search of the suspects’ homes, computers and phones failed to provide any evidence that they were involved in any way in this illegal practice.”

“A financial investigation has also found no evidence of suspicious transactions which might then merit further investigation.”

Ireland did not explain why he described the woman as “journalist or agent” instead of just “journalist”.

Nor did he give any further details about the nature of the “time gap” which troubled him.

The Sunday Times told the Guardian:

“We stand by our investigation and contest the statement made by the CPS.”

There was no report of the CPS decision in the Sunday Times.

♦♦♦

A FULLER version of the events leading up to the story didn’t emerge until a General Dental Council disciplinary hearing against Omar Addow in August 2013.

Only the Independent carried a report of the proceedings.

It described what happened when the undercover reporter went to the dentist’s surgery:

“When the reporter’s stomach apparently started rumbling, Mr Addow carried out ‘percussion’ and examined her abdomen, the hearing was told.”

“This led to him checking her breasts for abnormalities and performing a vaginal ‘exploration’ before inviting her back to his flat, it is claimed.”

“The journalist recorded the visit to the flat on a hidden “handbag-cam”, for which Mr [Mazher] Mahmood … supplied the batteries.”

“Soon after arriving, the journalist — described on the film as being 33 and of Ghanaian origin — disappears into the bedroom with Dr Addow for over an hour, the hearing was told.”

The Independent then quotes Tom Kark, QC who represented the General Dental Council:

“When he leaves the bedroom, he appears to be wearing a sarong.”

GLASS HOUSES THE NEW skyscraper home of Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper empire in London. All glass and light, it promises a new era in operness and transparency. But the company hasn't changed — and refuses to answer Press Gang questions  about Mazher Mahmood.  Photo: Rebecca Television

GLASS HOUSE
THE NEW skyscraper home of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper empire in London. All glass and light, it promises a new era in openness and transparency. But the company  refuses to answer Press Gang questions about Mazher Mahmood …
Photo: Rebecca Television

The newspaper reports Kark as adding:

“It appears he and the journalist have sexual intercourse.”

“We may form the view that the journalist had gone to extra lengths to get her story”.

Addow told police:

“We did sex.”

Before the pair went into the bedroom, the dentist had insisted he was opposed to FGM.

The Independent notes:

“It was only after they had disappeared into a room for an hour that the dentist was recorded on the handbag-cam saying:

” ‘I will do it for you. Between you, me and Allah only’.”

The Sunday Times told the Independent:

“The journalist in question was a freelance engaged in a legitimate undercover investigation into female genital mutilation which is a matter of public interest.”

“She denies having had sexual intercourse or any other sexually intimate contact with Mr Addow.”

The Sunday Times did not report these proceedings.

The General Dental Council later found Addow guilty of conducting an intimate examination of the woman and of offering to perform FGM.

He was struck off.

The Sunday Times reported the decision.

It also included the comment that Addow:

“… claimed he and the female journalist had had sex at his home.”

TULISA  THE SINGER'S case was the straw that broke the camel's back. After decades of tolerance from the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary, the judge in the case suddenly saw Mahmood in his true light ... Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS
THE SINGER’S case was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After decades of tolerance from the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary, the judge in the case suddenly saw Mahmood in his true colours … a perjuror.
Photo: PA

The report added:

“The journalist denies having sex with Addow.”

In May this year, the doctor who introduced Addow to the journalist was also struck off.  

The Sunday Times reported that Dr Ali Mao-Aweys had been removed from the General Medical Register by a fitness-to-practice panel.

The paper did not report the panel’s comment about some of the undercover journalist’s recordings:

“The panel noted there are long silences in the recordings which have not been explained by either party.”

“The panel has not been made aware of what occurred during these silences although it was concerned by their length.”

♦♦♦

PRESS GANG emailed Eleanor Mills, now Executive Editor of the Sunday Times.

Initially, she told us: 

“The CPS decided the evidence wasn’t robust enough to prosecute because of some problems with the tape.”

“I was very disappointed as I think it is ridiculous to have a law in the books under which there has never been a prosecution.”
This was before the damning General Dental Council hearing where the prosecuting QC Tom Kark said the journalist had sex with Addow.

We wrote again.

We asked why the Crown Prosecution Service described the woman involved in the sting as a “journalist or agent”.

Was she a journalist or wasn’t she?

We also asked if she was a long-standing member of Mahmood’s team.

We then put the key question:

“The central allegation hovering throughout this story is that you and Mahmood either encouraged, permitted or tolerated a woman working for you to prostitute herself in order to persuade the dentist to offer to carry out FGM.”

“Before she went into the bedroom at his flat, he was insisting he was opposed to the practice and would not do it.”

“After an hour, she and the dentist reappeared — Mr Addow wearing only a sarong —  and he agreed to do it.”

Mills did not reply.

We asked her to forward our email to Mazher Mahmood.

He didn’t answer.

Eleanor Mills is president of the organisation Women in Journalism.

♦♦♦

WE ALSO sent a copy of the email to John Witherow.

He’s now editor of The Times.

He didn’t reply.

Witherow should have known that Mazher Mahmood was a rogue reporter.

He worked alongside him in the Sunday Times newsroom back in the late 1980s.

The two men even shared a by-line on a prophetic story in March 1986.

They revealed that a group of Libyan pilots training in Britain had offered to form suicide squads to attack US bases …

Witherow was working for the paper when Mahmood resigned in 1989 shortly before he was to be sacked.

But he would have known there were problems with some of Mahmood’s stories long before then.

In March 1986 Mahmood posed as an Arab and tried to buy £45,000 worth of falcons from Jemima Parry-Jones of the Gloucestershire Falconry Centre with a view to illegally exporting them.

RUPERT MURDOCH THE EX-AUSTRALIAN tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood and made sure he had a temporary berth on the Sunday Times.  Photo: PA  Hertfordshire.

RUPERT MURDOCH
THE AUSTRALIAN tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood and made sure he had a temporary berth on the Sunday Times after the closure of the News of the World.
Photo: PA 

In the article, Mahmood said that, before the deal went ahead:

“Parry Jones changed her mind and called in customs officers.”

In April the paper was forced to carry a letter from an indignant Parry-Jones.

She made it clear that she had told Mahmood that a licence was needed to take the birds out of the country — and offered to help obtain one.

“When it became apparent to me that the man posing as an Arab purchaser — your journalist — was seriously interested in purchasing birds which he might export illegally, I notified the Department of the Environment, Wildlife Division, and made arrangements for the Customs and Excise to be present at the second meeting to apprehend the man.”

“The suggestion that I only called in the authorities because I was aware that the man was a Sunday Times reporter is untrue.”

“It was only when the man made a second appointment that I had worthwhile information to give to the authorities.”

In 1988 the paper had to issue corrections to other stories Mahmood had written.

One concerned an article about a Birmingham travel agent accused of money-laundering — the photograph illustrating the piece was of an entirely innocent man.

In another article Mahmood claimed that Pakistan wanted Britain to return former brigadier Usman Khalid because he was suspected of involvement in the 1985 air crash that killed the country’s President, General Zia.

The correction made it clear Pakistan had asked for no such thing — and the paper accepted Usman Khalid’s assurance that he was not involved in the crash.

The most serious correction followed a story alleging that the head of a fee-paying school near Shrewsbury was cruel to pupils.

The piece said police were investigating and quoted teachers and pupils who supported the allegations against Edward Pease-Watkin of Packwood Haugh School.

The piece provoked a storm of protest — and generated a significant correction the following Sunday.

The chairman of the governors said the piece “outraged governors, parents and ex-parents, staff, pupils and ex-pupils, the school doctor and the vicar”.

He said the police investigation was complete — and had found no evidence to support the allegations which had been made by a sacked teacher.

He added:

“The staff, at an informal gathering on May 8 [the day the article appeared] expressed unanimous support for the headmaster and school.”

A letter from one of the teachers quoted in the article insisted he talked to Mahmood “to discourage him from pursuing allegations which were malicious.”

Another letter, signed by 58 pupils said “your article was an injustice.”

“Mr Pease-Watkin has all that is good in a headmaster, providing strong leadership and fairness in academic activities, and is caring and courteous at all times.”

“He has a fantastic track record of achievement … and is a source of great inspiration to us all.”

We also wrote to John Witherow asking him to comment on these stories.

He didn’t reply …

♦♦♦

MAZHER MAHMOOD is not the first “rogue journalist” John Witherow employed during the eighteen years he spent editing the Sunday Times.

In July 2003 the respected investigative journalist David Connett was offered a seniorpost on the celebrated Insight team.

But not as a conventional member of staff with a contract.

Instead, he was to be a highly-paid freelance who would carry out the “dark arts” of news-gathering for the team.

As former Insight reporter Edin Hamzic recorded in an email:

” … it was better for the team to keep him off the books in case we got rumbled.”

He added that the arrangement meant “we could have a get-out clause in case we got caught.”

Connett was not listed on the paper’s internal phone directory and did not have a company email address.

The reporter said that Insight editor Dean Nelson, a Christian, had misgivings about using the “dark arts”:

“He didn’t want to get involved in all the black arts and deal in stolen property etc.”

Connett added:

PECKING ORDER  THE FLOOR plan at Murdoch's new British newspaper HQ shows which paper has the best view ... Photo: Rebecca Television

PECKING ORDER
THE FLOOR plan at Murdoch’s new British newspaper HQ shows which paper has the best view … the Sun is top of the pile.
Photo: Rebecca Television

“The downside of this arrangement was that if anything ever went wrong the brown smelly stuff would arrive in my lap.”

The arrangement lasted until July 2005 when editor John Witherow decided to axe the Insight department as a separate department.

When the paper treated Connett as a freelance with few employment rights, he went to an employment tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.

In April 2006, the tribunal ruled that Connett was more than just a casual employee — and the Sunday Times agreed to pay him £30,000.

Even though all of this material was on the public record — and most of it was also included in Nick Davies’ 2008 book Flat Earth News — none of it was explored by the Leveson Inquiry …

No details have ever been provided either by Connett or the Sunday Times as to exactly what “dark arts” he used — or if any of them were illegal.

Neither Connett or Nelson were asked to give evidence before Lord Leveson.

Nor, as far as Press Gang can tell, has any reporter on the Sunday Times ever been questioned by the various police investigations into illegal news-gathering …

♦♦♦

BY THE time Panorama broadcast it’s twice-delayed programme on Mazher Mahmood, John Witherow had achieved his ambition.

He was editor of The Times, rewarded by Rupert Murdoch for decades of loyal service.

And he’s still at it.

The Times was silent during the dramatic run-up to the programme when lawyers acting for Mahmood failed to secure an injunction preventing recent images of the “Fake Sheik” being shown.

It was silent when the Attorney General asked the BBC to delay the programme because Mahmood might face charges of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. 

Nor did the paper — which regards itself as the UK’s paper of record — carry a full report on the programme itself.

POLICE CHIEF  MET COMMISSIONER Bernard Hogan-Howe force has had more than three months to arrest Mazher Mahmood on suspicion  of committing perjury ...  Photo: PA Commissioner,  after The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina Higgins arrive at London Heathrow Airport.  During the visit they will stay at Windsor Castle.

POLICE CHIEF
MET COMMISSIONER Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. More than three months after a judge accused Mazher Mahmood of lying in the Tulisa Contostavlos cocaine case, the Met has still to arrest the reporter on suspicion of committing perjury. Compare that to the 12 days it took West Midlands police to arrest the two medics in the FGM case after Mahmood presented them with his dodgy evidence…  The Met also ignored a letter from Press Gang in 2012 asking for Mahmood to be investigated for perjury in other criminal cases.
Photo: PA 

Instead it buried two sentences in another story about BBC proposals to hive Panorama off to the independent sector.

Those two sentences read in full:

“In a Panorama episode last night, postponed from Monday, Steve Grayson, a former associate of Mazher Mahmood, an investigative reporter known as the “Fake Sheikh” [sic — Mahmood always called himself the “Fake Sheik”], alleged that some of Mr Mahmood’s stories were obtained by entrapment.”

“Mr Mahmood, who has worked for the News of the World, The Sun and The Sunday Times, has denied acting improperly and described allegations in the programme as ‘unsustainable and wrong’.”

♦♦♦

LAST NIGHT Press Gang finally clarified the exact nature of the police investigation into Mazher Mahmood.

In a statement the Met told us its inquiry into Mahmood — known as Operation Silverhawk — was concerned only with the Tulisa Contostavlos trial.

The investigation, by the Special Enquiry Team of the Specialist Crime and Operations division, is not looking at any other cases:

” … at this stage the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] has not been asked to investigate any further matters.”

Asked if Mahmood had been questioned, the spokesperson added:

“We do not discuss the identity of people interviewed under caution.”

Yesterday the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that three planned criminal trials with Mahmood as a key witness had been abandoned.

The CPS also identified a further historical 25 cases where criminal convictions secured as a result of evidence provided by Mahmood were open to challenge.

However, the Met statement makes it clear that Mahmood’s role is not being investigated in any of these cases.

In November 2012 we wrote to the Met to ask them to investigate our allegation of serial perjury by Mahmood in many of the criminal cases he gave evidence in.

The Met acknowledged the letter but never responded.

The Press Gang investigation into Mazher Mahmood continues …

♦♦♦
Published: 22 November 2014
© Press Gang (part of Re
becca Television)
♦♦♦

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♦♦♦

COMING UP
“A PRETTY DESPICABLE MAN”
PART TWO: ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was editor. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

WHODUNNIT…?

October 27, 2014

PIERS_MORGAN_with_words_2d

THE POLITICAL editor of The Sun — Tom Newton Dunn — has a secret.

He’s been involved in illegal news-gathering.

Documents obtained by Press Gang implicate him in a “dirty tricks” campaign against a Tory politician.

But was it off his own bat — or did someone order him to do it?

At the time Newton Dunn was working for Piers Morgan at the Daily Mirror.

The new information comes from a Press Gang investigation of Piers Morgan — the largest ever undertaken.

The title is based on a comment made by Morgan himself — he once said you had to be a “fairly despicable” human being to edit the Mirror.

The politician targeted was Adrian Flook, Conservative MP for Taunton between 2001 and 2005.

He now works for the Australian spin doctor Lynton Crosby.

Crosby is a political advisor to David Cameron.

Flook knew nothing about the operation until we contacted him.

TOM NEWTON DUNN THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun, Dunn was involved in the "dark arts" of illegal news-gathering when he worked for Piers Morgan's Daily Mirror between 1998 and 2003.  Photo: PA

TOM NEWTON DUNN
THE CURRENT political editor of The Sun was involved in the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering when he worked for the Daily Mirror between 1998 and 2003. This undermines Morgan’s insistence he knew nothing about phone hacking and other unlawful activities while he was editor.
Photo: PA

The former MP was a member of the Commons Culture Media & Sport select committee when it investigated press invasion of personal privacy in 2003.

Piers Morgan, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks all gave evidence.

 This was also the occasion when Rebekah Brooks made her famous admission that she had paid police for information.She didn’t realise she was confessing to a crime.

Piers Morgan called it “dropping the tabloid baton”. 

Was this an admission that Mirror reporters — like Newton Dunn — were willing to pay police for information?

And was he also referring to his payment of a large sum of money for a confidential police file concerning Princess Diana back in 1994?

At the time, he was editor of the News of the World …

♦♦♦

ONE DAY, early in 2001.

A private detective based in Hampshire receives a request from the Daily Mirror.

The paper is researching a Tory councillor in the London borough of Wandsworth called Adrian Flook.

Flook is also the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Taunton constituency.

The private eye is Steve Whittamore.

In the office of his home in New Milton, Whittamore reaches for a red notebook.

The “Red Book” is where he records work commissioned by the Daily Mirror and its sister papers The People and the Sunday Mirror.

Some of the paper’s requests are straightforward and legal — it wants to know who’s living at Flook’s London home and at his base in Taunton.

But Whittamore’s services also include a battery of unlawful activities.

These range from obtaining ex-directory numbers and detailed phone bills to “blagging” other personal information.

The most powerful are criminal record checks — known as CROs — made on the Police National Computer.

The Mirror wants to know if Flook has a criminal record.

ADRIAN FLOOK  THE TORY MP for Taunton, 2001-2005, did not know he'd been targeted by the Daily Mirror until Press Gang told him earlier this year.  Photo: PA

TARGET
ADRIAN FLOOK did not know the Daily Mirror ordered an illegal criminal record check on him until Press Gang told him earlier this year. Elected Tory MP for Taunton in 2001, he lost his seat in the 2005 General Election.  
Photo: PA

In the “Red Book” Whittamore notes the paper’s order for a “CRO” and logs Flook’s date of birth.

Only police — and a small number of other agencies — are allowed access to the Police National Computer (PNC).

Because it’s a criminal offence to search the PNC without proper authorisation, CROs are the most expensive weapons in Whittamore’s arsenal.

They cost £500 each.

Whittamore also notes the name of his contact at the paper.

It’s a young journalist called Tom Newton Dunn.

He’s been with the Daily Mirror since 1998.

The Daily Mirror never published an article about Adrian Flook.

“That’s because I don’t have a criminal record,” Flook says.

He adds:

“I suspect the whole thing was part of a local ‘dirty tricks’ campaign designed to de-rail my campaign in Taunton.”

In 2003 the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raids Whittamore’s home as part of Operation Motorman.

When investigators discover Whittamore has also been paying police officers and civilians, they call in the Metropolitan Police.

The Met launches Operation Glade.

In 2005 Whittamore pleads guilty to breaching the Data Protection Act.

Two of his associates — a former police detective and a civilian employee — also plead guilty to conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

They’ve been making unauthorised searches of the Police National Computer.

All receive conditional discharges.

Flook is one of thousands of individuals whose names turn up in Whittamore’s files.

The vast majority are never informed by the Metropolitan Police or the Information Commissioner’s Office.

It will be thirteen years before Adrian Flook discovers he’s one of them …

♦♦♦

THE INVESTIGATION for this story began three years ago.

Earlier this year Channel 4 agreed to underwrite some of the research.

It later dropped the project.

In March we found an informant — codename “Trinity” — who provided information that the Mirror could have targeted Adrian Flook.

“Trinity” suggested Flook’s name might be found in Whittamore’s “Red Book”.

We spoke to the former MP.

He then wrote to the Information Commissioner’s Office asking if he featured in any of the records seized as part of Operation Motorman.

In May Information Commissioner Christopher Graham replied.

He enclosed a photocopy of an entry in Whittamore’s notebook which confirmed Flook had been a target.

SMOKING GUN THE ENTRY from private eye Steve Whittamore's notebook recording the operation against Adrian Flook. The first entry, following his normal practice, records the name of his contact jou, followed by the newspaper, in this case "D. M." — Daily Mirror. Then the target, Flook,

SMOKING GUN
THE EXTRACT from Steve Whittamore’s “Red Book” recording the operation against Adrian Flook. The first entry records the name of the journalist involved — “Tom Newton-Dunn”, followed by the newspaper, in this case “D. M.” = Daily Mirror. The “N” in the circle means the request is coming from news rather than features. No date is given but Press Gang believes it was in February 2001. Most of the searches ordered are legal — it’s only in the last line that the request becomes potentially criminal in nature. It states “CRO [short for Criminal Record Check] for above — D.O.B 9 / 7 / 63”. That date is Flook’s birthday.

The section concerning the CRO check has a wavy black line written through it. 

There are several possible explanations for this.

The Daily Mirror could have cancelled the request.

Or it could mean Whittamore passed the request to his contacts in the police — and drew the line to remind himself he’d done so.

Flook wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

He asked him to check if the Police National Computer check had actually taken place.

Hogan-Howe passed the matter to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

In May Flook met Detective Superintendent Clive Stevens from the DPS.

In June Stevens wrote to say:

“It cannot be confirmed whether any checks, lawful or otherwise, were ever carried on your details.”  

(In a later letter he added:

“I have made enquiries … with the Police National Computer Policy and Performance Unit and I regret to inform you that this information is not available for checks carried out in 2001.”)

Stevens also addressed the question of why Flook was never informed he’d been a target of Steve Whittamore and the Daily Mirror

“The workbooks seized from Stephen Whittamore contained several thousand entries,” he explained.

“It would not have been practicable to trace and contact all the people that appeared in these workbooks.”

“It seems that as you had not been specifically identified as a victim within the Operation Glade inquiry … you were not informed by any of the investigating agencies involved … your name had appeared as a person of interest to Stephen Whittamore.”

“I hope that you can appreciate that whilst this is regrettable, it is understandable and reasonable given the scale of the task at hand.”

Adrian Flook cannot understand why he was never contacted.

By the time Operation Glade began in March 2003  he was no ordinary citizen.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD WHEN ADRIAN FLOOK  met a senior Metropilitan Police detective, much of the meeting was spent talking about the journalist who'd told the former MP he'd been a target of the Daily Mirror. As Det Supt Stevens later put it:  "I would be grateful for any information you could share about the journalist in question so I can reassure myself that information about this investigation has not been obtained or disclosed in breach of any police regulations or by criminal act."  [I will contact Stevens to assure him that "Trinity" has not been paid for his assistance and that his not and never has been employed by the Met.]  Photo: Rebecca Television Stevens added:

HUNT THE MESSENGER
WHEN ADRIAN FLOOK met a senior Metropolitan Police detective in May, much of the meeting was spent talking about the journalist who’d told the former MP he’d been a target of the Daily Mirror. As Det Supt Clive Stevens later put it: “I would be grateful for any information you could share about the journalist in question so I can reassure myself that information about this investigation has not been obtained or disclosed in breach of any police regulations or by criminal act.” Press Gang Editor Paddy French emailed Stevens and assured him that our contact “Trinity” is not, and has never been, a Met police officer or a civilian employee. We also told him that he had given his information without payment of any kind.    Photo: Rebecca Television

He’d been elected to Parliament.

More than that, he was also a member of the Culture, Media & Sport select committee which held hearings into privacy and the press in 2003 a few days after Whittamore’s arrest.

And, to cap it all, one of those who appeared before him was Piers Morgan, editor of the very newspaper that had targeted him …  

 ♦♦♦

PIERS MORGAN was summoned to appear before the Culture, Media & Sport select committee in March 2003.

Also appearing on the same day were his friends Rebekah Brooks (then using her maiden name Wade) and Andy Coulson.

Brooks had been appointed Sun editor the previous January and Coulson had slipped into her role at the News of the World.

Even though they edited papers with a greater circulation, Piers Morgan was the senior member of the troika.

Morgan first met Coulson while he was running the celebrity column “Bizarre” for The Sun in the late 1980s.

When Morgan was appointed News of the World editor in 1994, Coulson took over “Bizarre”.

EDITORIAL BEDFELLOWS THREE EDITORS of the News of the World at a party in 2004 — Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade and current post-holder Andy Coulson. All were having affairs. During their phone hacking trial at the Old Baily, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson had been sleeping together since 1998. At the time she was married to Eastenders actor Ross Kemp and Coulson to the woman who is still his wife. Piers Morgan was also "having a few problems" in his marriage and would later divorce ...  Photo: Richard Young / REX

EDITORIAL BEDFELLOWS
THREE EDITORS of the News of the World at a party in 2004 — Piers Morgan, Rebekah Wade and the then post-holder Andy Coulson. All were having affairs. During their phone hacking trial at the Old Bailey, it was revealed that Brooks and Coulson hadn’t just been putting their papers to bed — they’d been bedding each other since 1998. At the time she was married to EastEnders actor Ross Kemp and Coulson was also married. Piers Morgan was “having a few problems” in his marriage and would later divorce …
Photo: Richard Young / REX

Rebekah Brooks was a journalist on the News of the World when Morgan took over the paper in 1994.

He quickly gave her first promotion — to features editor. 

His endorsement meant she would have come to the attention of Rupert Murdoch himself.

♦♦♦

THREE DAYS before the Culture committee was due to meet, private eye Steve Whittamore was arrested.

A lucrative enterprise came to an abrupt halt — affecting the papers edited by Morgan, Brooks and Coulson.

Right up until his arrest on the Saturday morning, Whittamore had been working for all three.

By Monday morning at the latest, the Mirror news desk would have learnt one of their major sources of illegal material was out of business.

It would later emerge that the Information Commissioner’s Office analysis of Whittamore’s “Red Book” established that 47 Daily Mirror journalists had made requests from the private eye.

684 of these requests were unlawful.

One of the 47 journalists was Tom Newton Dunn.

According to our source “Trinity”, he was responsible for more than 50 requests.

GARY JONES ANOTHER MIRROR journalist whose name appears in the "Red Book" is Gary Jones, the current Daily Mirror executive editor. He will play a major part in later sections of the Press Gang investigation into Piers Morgan.

GARY JONES
CURRENT EXECUTIVE editor of the Daily Mirror, Gary Jones is another  journalist who appears in the “Red Book”.  His name is on more than 150 requests recorded by private eye Steve Whittamore. Jones was one of Piers Morgan’s key lieutenants in the paper’s “dark arts” operations — and plays a major part in later sections of A Pretty Despicable Man

These included obtaining ex-directory numbers — an offence under the Data Protection Act.

His name is also down on orders for tracing the owners of cars.

A more detailed analysis of the “Red Book”, carried out by ITV News in 2012, concluded that the number of illegal orders was actually 984.

It was big business.

ITV News estimated the Daily Mirror spent over £92,000 on Whittamore’s services over a period of several years.

The News of the World was another customer.

It already employed another private eye — Glenn Mulcaire, later gaoled in the phone-hacking scandal — on an exclusive contract worth £100,000 a year.

But the News of the World also used Whittamore from time to time.

His “Blue Book”— concerned with requests from the Sunday tabloid — listed 23 journalists who spent more than £23,000 on obtaining unlawful information.

One of those named was Rebekah Brooks.

For most of the years these requests were being made, Brooks was News of the World editor and Coulson her deputy.

Whittamore  — he would later liken himself to “Oliver” working for the Fleet Street “Fagin” — was also working for other papers.

They included the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, The Sun and even The Times.

The scale of Whittamore’s operations begs the question:

how could Morgan, Brooks and Coulson not have known about the private detective’s arrest as they made their way to the Palace of Westminster for the Culture committee hearing on Tuesday, March 11?

♦♦♦

PIERS MORGAN was the first of the tabloid trio to appear before the committee.

If he was aware a criminal provider of information to his paper had just been arrested, he didn’t show it.

He was confident, cocky and combative.

Morgan insisted press standards had improved:

“I have worked in Fleet Street for 15 years, I have never known standards to be higher than they are today.”

“When I came into Fleet Street the atmosphere was pretty lawless, I would say, pretty lawless.”

“As a young journalist on The Sun, for example, I was not really instructed how to behave, what to do.”

“I could really act with impunity.”

Morgan defended the Press Complaints Commission.

Morgan was unimpressed with the testimony of ordinary people who told the committee they were unhappy about the way they’d been treated by the media.

MIRROR, MIRROR THERE ARE two faces to Piers Morgan's comments about phone hacking and the other "dark arts" of illegal news-gathering. Throughout the early stages of the scandal, he was happy to give the impression most newspapers were involved. But as soon as senior figures in the Murdoch empire began to be arrested, he changed his tune. Now he claims he knew nothing about unlawful practices at the Daily Mirror ...         Photo: PA

MIRROR, MIRROR
THERE ARE two faces to Piers Morgan’s comments about phone hacking and the other “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering. Throughout the early stages of the scandal, he was happy to give the impression most newspapers were involved. But as soon as senior figures in the Murdoch empire began to be arrested, he changed his tune. Now he claims he knew nothing about unlawful practices at the Daily Mirror
Photo: PA

He told Chris Bryant that if people wrote to him:

“… I deal with it seriously and properly.”

“We go and get to the bottom of what the allegation is and if I discover that people have been trampling wilfully on people’s privacy, believe me, there are massive inquests in our newspaper.”

When it came to Adrian Flook’s turn to ask questions, he followed up this response:

“Can you give us an example of the last massive inquest?”

Morgan changed the subject and didn’t answer the question.

♦♦♦

LATER THAT morning, Brooks and Coulson appeared before the committee.

The two tabloid bosses were well-briefed and well-supported.

“They had many advisers with them and were treating the session with a lot of care,” remembers Adrian Flook.

But, out of the blue, the two editors faced a dangerous line of questioning from Labour’s Chris Bryant:

“There have been a series of stories over the past couple of years suggesting that The Sun, The Mirror, The Express, the News of the World, use private detectives, pay people to provide them with information which they should not legally have, pay the police to make sure they know things before they are rightfully public.”

“In the case of Sarah Payne, The Sun, The Mirror and The Express all paid £5,000 to somebody to steal sensitive documents and sell them to their newspaper.”

He then asked:

“Do either of your newspapers ever use private detectives, ever bug or pay the police?”

When Rebekah Brooks didn’t answer the question clearly, he tried again:

“And on the element of whether you ever pay the police for information?”

She replied:

“We have paid the police for information in the past”.

MEA CULPA REBEKAH BROOKS made the damaging admission that she'd paid police for information in the past when she appeared before the Culrure, Media & Sport select committee. PHOTO: PA

MEA CULPA
REBEKAH BROOKS made the damaging admission that she’d paid police for information in the past when she appeared before the Culture, Media & Sport select committee. She was cleared of all charges at the hacking trial earlier this year.
Photo: PA

Bryant followed up:

“And will you do it in the future?”

Rebekah Brooks started her answer but was interrupted by Coulson.

She only got as far as:

“It depends — “

when he interrupted:

“We operate within the [Press Complaints Commission] code and within the law — and if there is a clear public interest, then we will.”

Bryant sprang the trap:

“It’s illegal for police officers to receive payments.”

Coulson repeated:

“No. I just said, within the law.”

The exchange was brought to an end by committee chairman Gerald Kaufman.

But the damage had been done.

CHRIS BRYANT THE MP's questioning led to Rebekah Brooks admitting that she had paid police officers for information — a criminal offence. Photo: PA

CHRIS BRYANT
THE MP’s questioning led to Rebekah Brooks admitting that she had paid police officers for information — a criminal offence. It was later revealed that his phone had been hacked by the News of the World: he received £40,000 in damages.
Photo: PA

Brooks had admitted what many had long suspected: some newspapers paid police officers for valuable information.

Piers Morgan, a former Murdoch loyalist with stints on The Sun and a short period as News of the World editor, was in no doubt about the seriousness of the mistake.

In his 2006 memoirs The Insider he wrote:

… Rebekah excelled herself by virtually admitting she’s been illegally paying policemen for information.”

“I called to thank her for dropping the tabloid baton at the last minute.”

“She apologised:

“That’s why I should never be seen or heard in public,” she told him.

There has been speculation among investigative journalists that Brooks made her admission because she knew about Whittamore’s arrest.

And feared the committee had also got wind of it.

Was she trying to get an admission in before a committee member could make an accusation?

If so, she didn’t realise she had confessed to a criminal offence.

And why did Piers Morgan accuse her of “dropping the tabloid baton”?

Was it because he knew the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering were rife and that his own Daily Mirror was paying police for information?

Was it because he’d been one of the trail-blazers back in 1994 when he paid an enormous sum of money for an explosive police report about Princess Diana?

♦♦♦

IN 1994 the News of the World gained access to a police investigation into anonymous phone calls made by Princess Diana.

She’d been ringing a close friend of Prince Charles called Oliver Hoare.

The editor at the time was Piers Morgan.

He tells the story of what happened in his memoirs, The Insider.

In August 1994 news editor Alex Marunchak and chief crime reporter Gary Jones walked into Morgan’s office at the News of the World.

Gary Jones said:

“Got rather a big one here, boss. Diana’s a phone pest.”

PRINCESS DIANA IN 1994 the News of World paid a huge sum of money for a confidential police report into anonymous phone calls being made by the Princess.  Photo: PA

“PHONE PEST”
IN 1994 the News of the World paid a huge sum of money for a confidential police report into anonymous phone calls being made by the Princess. The editor was Piers Morgan …
Photo: PA

“The cops are investigating hundreds of calls she has made to a married art dealer called Oliver Hoare.”

When Morgan asked what the evidence was, Jones replied:

“Here’s a read-out from the police report.”

A source who had a copy of the report had read it over the phone and a reporter had taken a shorthand record of it.

The police report revealed that Hoare had received hundreds of silent, anonymous phone calls.

He called the police and BT traced the calls to Kensington Palace, the home of Princess Diana.

When police told Hoare, he said that he and his wife were friends of Charles and Diana.

He had been, in the words of the police report, “consoling her and becoming quite close to her” after her separation from Charles.

When the paper put it to Hoare, he declined to comment.

He did not deny there had been an investigation.

The News of the World ran the story over the front page and four inside pages.

The article had the by-lines of Gary Jones and Clive Goodman.

(Clive Goodman was the paper’s royal correspondent.

More than a decade later, in 2007, he and the paper’s private investigator Glenn Mulcaire would be gaoled for illegally hacking into the mobile phones of Princes William and Harry.)

The level of detail in the News of the World article was extraordinary.

It reported that Oliver Hoare went to the police in October 1993.

Detectives contacted British Telecom’s specialist Nuisance Calls Bureau who provided Hoare with a special code to allow BT to trace calls.

The first time this code was used was 13 January 1994.

This was the News of the World account of some of the six silent calls which came from phone lines used by the Princess on that first day:

8.45am: The phone rings and there is silence at the other end.

Oliver [Hoare] activates the tracing equipment for the first time.

It finds the source is a private number used by Prince Charles.

8.49am: Second call is made.

Oliver repeatedly asks: “Hello, hello, who’s there?”

“Who’s there?”

There’s no response.

The call is traced to another number — Princess Diana’s private line.

The reporters are told that the problem is passed on to Commander Robert Marsh, head of the Met’s Royalty Protection Squad.

Marsh then briefs a senior Home Office politician who alerts the Royal Household.

The calls come to an end.

♦♦♦

BUT DIANA immediately denied the story — and the next day, Monday, the Daily Mail published a long interview with her.

“I feel I am being destroyed,” she said.

“There is absolutely no truth in it.”

An anxious Piers Morgan was up early that day and, having read the Daily Mail interview, rang news editor Alex Marunchak at seven in the morning.

Marunchak tried to calm his worried editor:

“We’ve had the report read to us: she’s lying.”

But Morgan remained concerned.

He wrote in his diary:

“we can’t reveal this fact without potentially exposing our source, so where does that leave us?”

“And what if the report is a forgery?”

“I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.”

“I couldn’t eat or even drink a cup of tea. It was hellish.”

The News of the World was already getting calls from other newspapers asking if Morgan was going to resign.

But there was to be an extraordinary intervention.

Morgan was in the shower later that morning when his wife told him Rupert Murdoch was on the phone.

Morgan thought he was going to be fired.

RUPERT MURDOCH RANG HIS worried editor and told him the Princess Diana story was true. Just how he knew has never been revealed ...  Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
RANG HIS worried editor from the United States and told him the Princess Diana story was true. Just how he knew has never been revealed … but likely candidates include Number 10, the Home Office or the Metropolitan Police.
Photo: PA

“Hi Piers,” said Murdoch, “I can’t really talk for long but I just wanted you to know that your story is one hundred per cent bang on.”

“Can’t tell you how I know, but I just know.”

“So get on TV and tell the world she’s a liar.”

“Then say we’re running another great load of great stuff about it next week. OK?”

A relieved Morgan told him they didn’t have anything else on the story.

Murdoch said:

“Oh, you will have by Sunday — don’t worry. Gotta go. Good luck.”

Morgan went on the offensive and it soon became clear that the story was true.

But the next day, the focus switched to the source of the News of the World story.

“Everyone seemed to be blaming the police,” Morgan wrote in The Insider, “so I issued a statement saying it was categorically not a serving police officer, which is perfectly true.”

The following Sunday’s paper led with the story that Diana’s former lover James Hewitt had also received “cranky” calls from her.

Reporter Gary Jones went on to win the Press Gazette Reporter of the Year Award in 1995 for his work at the News of the World, including the exclusive about Diana’s anonymous calls.

When Piers Morgan was appointed editor of the Daily Mirror in 1995, Gary Jones soon followed.

At the paper, he became a major customer of private eye Steve Whittamore.

Today, he’s the Executive Editor of the Daily Mirror.

♦♦♦

LAST NIGHT Piers Morgan was busy on his Twitter account.

He has more than 4 million followers on the social media site.

We asked him to get in touch with us so we could give him the opportunity to reply to the allegations made in this article.

He didn’t reply.

UNDER FIRE PIERS MORGAN'S insistence he knew nothing about illegal activities during his nine years at the Mirror is  Photo: PA.

UNDER FIRE
PIERS MORGAN’S insistence he knew nothing about illegal activities during his nine years at the Mirror is slowly unravelling. He was questioned under caution by police last year. On Friday the Mirror group finally conceded some of the stories that appeared during his editorship were likely to have been the result of phone hacking and the “blagging” of personal information. The group has set aside £10 million to settle scores of legal actions against the Daily Mirror, People and Sunday Mirror — and last month paid substantial sums to a clutch of celebrities including Sven-Goran Eriksson. More cases are in the pipeline.  Operation Golding, the Metropolitan Police investigation into the Mirror group, has seen several arrests…
Photo: PA.

We asked Paul Vickers, Group Legal Director of the company which owns the Daily Mirror, if it 

— knew about Tom Newton Dunn’s involvement with Steve Whittamore

— knew about the large number of orders Whittamore received from current Executive Editor Gary Jones

— and if the company would suspend Jones pending an internal investigation.

Vickers told us last night:

“We have no comment to make.”

We also tried to get in touch with  Tom Newton Dunn.

As political editor of The Sun, he’s one of Britain’s most powerful journalists.

We sent a message via Twitter but he never replied.

We also contacted The Sun.

We asked if the paper if it was confident Newton Dunn had not broken the law in his news-gathering at The Sun after he joined in 2003.

We asked if there would be an internal investigation  — and if  Newton Dunn would be suspended pending the result of any such investigation.

There was no reply by the time this article was posted.

The Sun recently suspended reporter Mazher Mahmood after a judge accused him of lying during the Tulisa Contostavlos trial.

We also wrote to private eye Steve Whittamore.  

He didn’t reply.

♦♦♦

GANGBUSTERS WANTED

THERE’S AN old saying: “dog doesn’t eat dog” — reporters shouldn’t tell tales on colleagues. This is especially true of Piers Morgan who has formidable ties to much of Britain’s media. He’s friendly with his old mentor Rupert Murdoch which means the Times, Sun and Sunday Times won’t criticise him. The Mirror group — the Daily Mirror, The People and the Sunday Mirror — are unlikely to investigate because he worked for them. He’s now joined the Daily Mail online operation as US “Editor-at-Large” while his wife Celia Walden is a columnist with the Daily Telegraph. He currently presents Piers Morgan’s Life Stories for ITV and has worked for Channel 4 in the past. This partly explains why he’s escaped serious scrutiny up to now. Help Press Gang redress the balance by becoming a gangbuster: just hit the button …

Donate Button with Credit Cards

♦♦♦

COMING UP IN PART TWO:
ASSAULT ON THE BANK OF ENGLAND

THE “DARK ARTS” were practised on an industrial scale at the Daily Mirror when Piers Morgan was in the editor’s chair. An extraordinary example took place in 1998 when the paper ordered private eyes to break into the mortgage accounts of every member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. A Pretty Despicable Man continues with a revealing analysis of the paper’s cynical bank jobs…

CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

TWEETING FOR JUSTICE

October 25, 2014
 
BEYOND CONTEMPT:
THE INSIDE STORY OF THE PHONE HACKING TRIAL

Peter Jukes
(Canbury Press, £15.99)

THIS BOOK is that rare beast — a ground-breaking volume that’s also entertaining and informative.

A writer’s eye view of what went on during the 130 day Old Bailey trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, it’s based on Jukes’ experiences as he reported live via Twitter.

Note the word writer in that last sentence.

PETER JUKES PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE the Old Bailey — his workplace for nearly four months — Peter Jukes covered the trial in thousands of live tweets.  Photo: Olivia Beasley / oliviabeasley.com

PETER JUKES
PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE the Old Bailey — his workplace for nearly four months — Peter Jukes covered the trial in thousands of live tweets.
Photo: Olivia Beasley / oliviabeasley.com

Jukes isn’t a professional journalist, he’s a dramatist and novelist.

He follows Peter Burden, the writer and entrepreneur whose 2008 book News of the World? was the first to expose the dark heart of the News of the World.

But Jukes’ tweets were only made possible by an enlightened judge.

Sir John Saunders is another rare breed — a judge concerned that justice in this country isn’t being reported as it used to be.

As newspapers decline, press reporting of court proceedings is fading away.

By permitting Jukes to live tweet, Saunders was allowing a fascinating experiment to take place.

Generally speaking, it’s been accepted as a valuable addition to the proceedings.

Jukes also pioneered crowd-funding — where followers underwrite the cost of the reporting — in British court reporting.

BROOKS & BROOKS THE LOVELETTER that revealed  of Rebekah Brooks' long-standing affair was one of the

MR & MRS BROOKS
THE SENSATIONAL love letter that revealed Rebekah Brooks’ long-standing affair with Andy Coulson was one of the battlegrounds of the trial.   Photo: PA

And, by adding this book to the tweets, he’s brought another dimension to his coverage of the trial.

The book doesn’t repeat (retweet) the tweets.

Instead, it goes behind the scenes and shows what, normally, only court reporters get to experience.

There’s a little of Dickens’ sharp observational eye in his accounts of the David v Goliath battle that took place in Court 12.

Naturally, this being the underlings of billionaire Rupert Murdoch versus The Crown, the normal rules were suspended.

In this trial, it’s the Crown that’s David.

The formidably talented and fantastically expensive battery of QCs acting for the defendants is Goliath.

The Crown’s two QCs were outgunned by the magnificent seven of the defence.

Jukes’ account of their battle over the love letter Rebekah Brooks wrote in 2004 — but never sent — to her lover Andy Coulson is fascinating.

Initially, although it’s hard to believe, the defence tried to argue that bringing it into the trial would infringe Rebekah Brooks’ … privacy.

Then they tried to keep it out of the prosecution opening because it would generate adverse publicity …

Both attempts failed but many reporters felt the defence overwhelmed the prosecution.

The book isn’t perfect — in the haste to get it out, there are typos and the index is spartan and sometimes unhelpful.

But these are small quibbles.

The book is a triumph and begins to show the internet, as well as hammering the viability of newspapers and magazines, is starting to throw up new forms of writing and journalism.

Paddy French

THE STING IN THE SINGER’S TALE

August 29, 2014

STING IN THE SINGER'S TALE

THE FULL story behind the dramatic collapse of the trial of singer Tulisa Contostavlos — and the unscrupulous role of Sun on Sunday reporter Mazher Mahmood — has not been told.

During the trial in July it became clear that one of Mahmood’s associates, a driver called Alan Smith, changed his witness statement after a discussion with the reporter.

Mahmood had claimed, at an earlier hearing, that he hadn’t spoken to him.

Press Gang can now reveal that Smith has a criminal record.

And it’s not the first time he’s played a devious role in one of the undercover reporter’s stories.

The judge in the Tulisa Contostavlos case concluded Mahmood deliberately lied to the court.

The case was dismissed.

Mahmood has now been suspended by The Sun and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the allegation that he committed perjury.

But the extraordinary sequence of events which led to the singer walking free has not been revealed — even though reporters were well aware of it.

The case also calls into question the willingness of Scotland Yard to base criminal cases on the work of a journalist with a long history of perjury allegations.

Long before Tulisa Contostavlos was charged, the editor of this website wrote to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate Mahmood for perjury.

We pointed out that Mahmood had not only lied to the Leveson Inquiry about the number of convictions he’d secured but may also have lied about the issue in several of the criminal prosecutions he generated.

The Met did not reply.

This article tells the inside story of how one of Rupert Murdoch’s favourite reporters fell from grace …

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS The singer called Mazher Mahmood a liar as the case against her was sensationally dropped. Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS
THE SINGER speaking outside Southwark Crown Court after the charge that she had been involved in the supply of cocaine was sensationally dropped.  Photo: PA

♦♦♦

ON MAY 10 last year a gang practiced in the arts of entrapment prepared for another session with one of their victims.

The group had rented a suite at the 5 star Metropolitan Hotel just off Park Lane in the centre of London.

The target was the singer Tulisa Contostavlos.

She’d enjoyed a successful career with the hip hop band N’Dubz and had been a judge in the TV series The X Factor for two years running.

The man after her scalp was Mazher Mahmood.

In a controversial career spanning more than three decades, Mahmood had chalked up a reputation as one of the most dangerous adversaries in Fleet Street.

As the “Fake Sheik” he’d humiliated the rich and the powerful — including Prince Edward’s wife, the former Sophie Rhys-Jones, and the Duchess of Kent.

But he’d also seen famous celebrities and sportsmen gaoled after his elaborate stings.

This time it was to be a battle between the experienced Mahmood and a young woman from a broken family in North London.

The odds were stacked against the singer.

Tulisa Contostavlos was just 25.

At 50, Mahmood was twice her age.

She was the only child of musician parents who broke up when she was young.

She lived with her mother who had a long history of mental health problems.

STRAIGHT STALKING  Mazher Mahmood targeted the singer because she held out the promise of a "gold standard" sting — a huge story with criminal convictions at the end of it. Tulisa was young, beautiful and had taken her career in a successful hip hop band to a new level when she became an X Factor judge. But Mahmood also thought she was likely to be a cocaine user — one of the million or so British people who regularly use the drug with a heavy concentration in the entertainment business. She'd also played the part of an addict in a Channel 4 drama and came from a broken family. By early 2013 she'd made it plain she wanted a career in Hollywood — and was therefore ripe for a classic Mahmood sting.

STRAIGHT STALKING
MAZHER MAHMOOD targeted the singer because she held out the promise of a “gold standard” sting — a huge story with criminal convictions at the end of it. Tulisa was young, beautiful and had taken her career in a successful hip hop band to a new level when she became an X Factor judge. But Mahmood also thought she was likely to be a cocaine user — one of the million or so British people who regularly use the drug with a heavy concentration in the entertainment business. By early 2013 she’d made it plain she wanted a career in Hollywood — and was therefore ripe for a classic Mahmood sting …

In her autobiography Honest (2012) she revealed she’d self-harmed as a teenager.

She joined the hip hop band N’Dubz — named after the London district NW1 where she grew up — when she was 12.

The band had its first chart success in May 2007.

In November of that year — when she was 18 — she appeared in the Channel 4 programme Dubplate Drama.

She played a cocaine addict.

In 2011 and 2012 she was one of the judges on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor series.

In May 2012 her solo single “Young” went to No 1.

But a few months earlier her ex-boyfriend Justin Edwards posted online a sex video of the couple.

She took him to court and won damages against him.

By early 2013, she was disillusioned with the music business in Britain.

“I wanted to get out. I wanted to go into acting and piss off to America,” she said later.

She went to Los Angeles to audition for parts.

That’s where Mazher Mahmood and his gang targeted her.

He created a sting based on her public comment that she was a big fan of the actor Leonardo DiCaprio..

He pretended to be a Bollywood producer called Samir Khan and offered her a £3.5 million role in a movie starring alongside DiCaprio.

He flew her to Las Vegas in March 2013 and gave her and her entourage two suites at one of the city’s top hotels, the Venetian.

During her stay, she was given bodyguards and the best tables at nightclubs.

By the time the Las Vegas trip was over, she was convinced she was in line for a major movie that would transform her life.

“I was like a lost puppy,” she later recalled, “because I wanted it so badly to be true.”

♦♦♦

WHEN TULISA and her team arrived at the Metropolitan on May 10, Mahmood and his gang were ready.

The reporter and his entourage were armed with hidden cameras and microphones.

But the singer proved a tough nut to crack.

Throughout the long, six-hour session — and the constant flow of alcohol — she kept a cool head.

She clearly didn’t take drugs.

TABLES TURNED  ON THE journey home from a six hour session where she was plied with drink by Mazher Mahmood's gang, the singer made it clear she disapproved of drugs. It was a statement that was to save her from a criminal conviction — and dramatically turn the tables on her accuser. Mahmood is now being investigated for perjury ... a far more serious offence than the one she was charged with. Photo: PA

TABLES TURNED
ON THE journey home from a six hour session where she was plied with drink by Mazher Mahmood’s gang, the singer made it clear she disapproved of drugs. It was a statement that was to help save her from a criminal conviction — and dramatically turn the tables on her accuser. Mahmood is now being investigated for perjury … a far more serious offence than the one she was charged with.  Photo: PA

She was also discreet.

She was careful not to badmouth the famous people she knew — like Simon Cowell, the man behind X Factor.

Mahmood had brought up the subject of “celebrity prostitution”.

When it was suggested that she go to Mahmood’s bedroom, she refused.

She was going to land the part on the basis of her acting ability alone.

But Mahmood had a trick up his sleeve.

He didn’t believe in formal auditions, he said.

He preferred “social auditioning” and urged her to demonstrate that she could play the character of a young London druggie in order to get the part.

She played the part, pretending to be a member of a drug gang in her past.

Mahmood said he was coming back to London later that month and planning a night out for his friends at a strip club.

Could she help set up the evening?

Still in character, she said it would be no problem.

At the end of the evening, Mahmood’s driver took the singer and her team home.

The driver was a long-standing associate of Mahmood’s called Alan Smith.

During the journey Tulisa and her associates talked about the evening.

The singer said that a member of her family had a drug problem — and that she personally disapproved of them.

At this point she was revealing her real views on drugs …

♦♦♦

ON MAY 21 Tulisa spoke to Mazher Mahmood on the phone about the proposed evening at the night club.

He challenged her to prove her street credentials by giving him the name of a cocaine dealer.

She didn’t know any — but thought that her rapper friend Michael Coombs might pretend to be one.

He’d acted alongside her in the Channel 4 programme Dubplate Drama back in 2007 — Coombs had played the dealer to her character.

She thought he’d be able to string the producer along.

On May 22 Mahmood rang Coombs who agreed to supply cocaine.

At a meeting at the Dorchester in the early hours of the next day, Coombs sold the reporter just under half an ounce — 13.9 grams — of cocaine for £820.

MICHAEL COOMBS The 36-year-old rapper friend of Tulisa C, known as Mike GLC, pleaded guilty to selling Mazher Mahmood 13.9 grams of cocaine for £860. The case against him was also dropped when the judge realised that Mahmood had lied under oath. Photo: PA

MICHAEL COOMBS
THE RAPPER friend of Tulisa C, known as Mike GLC, pleaded guilty to selling Mazher Mahmood 13.9 grams of cocaine for £820. The case against him was also dropped when the judge realised that Mahmood had lied under oath.    Photo: PA

Coombs made it clear to Mahmood that he was only supplying the drugs as a favour to Tulisa.

The exchange was filmed.

On June 2 the Sun on Sunday “World Exclusive” front page proclaimed “Tulisa’s Cocaine Deal Shame”.

She was arrested two days later.

By the time the trial began on July 14 this year, the omens were not good for the singer.

Mike Coombs pleaded guilty to supplying the drug — and was likely to face a prison sentence.

The singer pleaded not guilty to being involved in the supply of cocaine.

Her defence team had earlier failed to have the case struck out.

Her barrister said that the offer of a £3.5 million role in a film alongside DiCaprio was an “exceptional inducement”.

He also argued that the evidence Mahmood supplied was invalid because it broke the Police and Criminal Evidence Act — it was tainted by the amounts of alcohol the singer had consumed.

Judge Alistair McCreath rejected both applications.

He also refused to allow the defence to introduce details of other criminal cases involving Mahmood which had collapsed.

And he would not allow the defence to bring evidence of Mahmood’s bad character.

The defence team were still confident that they had a strong defence.

But Tulisa later said she was 100 per cent certain she was going to be convicted:

“I was preparing for prison.”

♦♦♦ 

BUT A miracle was about to happen.

When Mahmood handed over the sting material to the police, there was nothing from the driver Alan Smith.

The defence had a hunch that his vehicle had been bugged on the night he took her home from the Metropolitan.

A few weeks before the trial, the defence insisted police take a statement from him.

On June 23 a detective constable rang Smith and took notes of the conversation.

Smith told the detective that the subject of drugs came up and Tulisa had been very negative about them.

The detective prepared a statement and rang Smith to check it.

Tulisa_-_The_Sun_-_02.06.13__1__.jpg(2000660001.310.0FEF6)

He made sure that the driver understood his obligations as a potential witness.

Smith said he was happy with the statement and would sign it.

The detective emailed the statement.

The next day, Smith rang the detective.

He said he was no longer sure it was the singer who had made the comment — it might have been another woman in the car.

The statement was changed and Smith signed it.

The next day, June 25, both statements were provided to the defence.

Here, they thought, was a ray of hope.

Smith’s initial statement gave credibility to the singer’s story that she was only playing a part when she was talking to Mahmood.

On June 27 — three days after Smith signed his changed statement — Mazher Mahmood was giving evidence under oath at a pre-trial hearing.

He was questioned by Tulisa’s barrister Jeremy Dein, QC about Alan Smith’s comment.

First, he was asked if the conversation between Alan Smith and the singer had been recorded.

“No”, answered Mahmood.

“But did you subsequently ask or find out, discuss with Mr Smith anything that was said in the car?

The answer was again “No”.

“Because I just want to see whether you were aware of this.”

“Mr Smith made a statement to the police saying that in the car Ms Contostavlos was talking about drugs and saying that a member of her family had a drug problem and she disapproved of drugs.”

“All I want to know from you is whether you discussed that with Mr Smith at any stage?”

The answer from Mahmood was clear and emphatic:

“No.”

Mahmood’s answers intrigued the defence team.

Lawyers from Hickman Rose, who represented the singer, began to make inquiries about Alan Smith.

They quickly discovered he’d been a long-term member of Mahmood’s team.

And he had a criminal record.

He’s also been involved in some of the reporter’s stories.

In May 1997, while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World, Mahmood published an exposé of  a centre in Hayes where the courts sent prisoners to do community service.

One of the people he exposed was an unemployed chauffeur called Alan Graham who was photographed sleeping in the back of a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.

The caption read “Snooze a Naughty Boy?”

What Mahmood did not tell News of the World readers was that Graham was actually one of his drivers, Alan Smith.

Mahmood calls him “Smithy” and describes him as a “bald-headed burly” and said he was a “wide boy”.

The Rolls Royce had been hired by the paper.

Smith had been sentenced to 100 hours community service by Uxbridge magistrates for fraud.

Mahmood later said that Smith had been included in the article under an alias to disguise the fact that he was the informant for the story …

♦♦♦

THE WEEK before the trial opened, the defence asked the Crown Prosecution Service to bring Alan Smith to the court as a potential witness.

On July 16, the third day of the trial, Smith was interviewed by defence solicitors in the presence of a Metropolitan Police detective.

This took place while Mahmood was on the stand, giving evidence for the prosecution.

BEN ROSE The lawyer headed the legal team representing Tulisa Contostavlos. They suspected

BEN ROSE
THE LAWYER headed the legal team representing Tulisa Contostavlos. Solicitors suspected there was something fishy about the evidence given by Mazher Mahmood’s driver … Photo: Hickman Rose

Smith confirmed that the original version of his statement stated that the subject of drugs had come up.

The singer had been very negative about them.

But he’d become unhappy about the statement.

He told the defence he’d sent a copy of the initial statement to Mahmood and then spoke to him about what he should do.

He said that Mahmood told him that, if he was unhappy with his statement, he should ring the police and change it.

The defence team were stunned.

Mahmood had said, on oath on June 27, that he hadn’t discussed anything with Smith.

Now the driver was saying the exact opposite.

One of the two men was lying…

♦♦♦

THE NEXT day, Thursday, was the fourth day of the trial.

It was to be a day of high drama.

Mazher Mahmood was back in the witness-box to be cross-examined by defence QC Jeremy Dein.

Overnight, Mahmood had learned what Smith had told the defence — and realised he now faced a serious dilemma.

Once again, Dein asked him if he’d discussed with Smith what was said in the car.

Mahmood now changed his story.

He admitted he had talked to the driver two weeks earlier.

He said that Smith had rung him and said he wasn’t happy with his statement.

Mahmood told the court Smith had emailed the statement and the two men then had a conversation about it.

Mahmood told him that he should ring the police and change it if he was not sure Tulisa had made the remark.

Dein put it to Mahmood that he had lied when he gave evidence at the earlier hearing.

“I disagree with you,” was Mahmood’s answer.

The barrister put it to him that it was he, Mahmood, who had persuaded Smith to change his statement.

“I did not,” replied Mahmood.

Mahmood added that the change made no difference.

Smith, he said, was sensitive about drugs because his son had recently died of a drugs overdose.

After Mahmood left the box, Judge Alistair McCreath sent the jury out.

He then addressed both the prosecution and the defence.

He made it clear that he felt Mahmood had told a “knowing lie” when he gave evidence on June 27.

And that he did so, in his opinion, to conceal “improper conduct”: he had interfered with evidence that would have been to Tulisa’s advantage.

In circumstances where a key witness was guilty of “gross misconduct”, he added, it would be an abuse for the state to rely on him.

It would also compromise judicial integrity — “it would be on the court’s conscience,” he said.

He then adjourned the court.

Throughout these proceedings, the press gallery was packed.

Reporters cannot report what’s said when the jury is out but the judge’s comments would have made it clear that Mahmood’s earlier dramatic climb-down was not only sensational — it now threatened the entire case.

Yet not a word of what had happened was reported by that evening’s radio and television news.

The next morning, the press were also silent.

The Daily Mail, for example, led with the story that one of Tulisa’s aides told Mahmood that he believed Simon Cowell was gay.

The defence team were disappointed.

They’d hoped press reports of the sensational developments might generate other material helpful to their case.

♦♦♦

FRIDAY WAS the fifth day of the trial.

By now it was clear that the judge was proposing to reopen the abuse application he had turned down the previous month.

The prosecution, though, were unable to get advice from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about contesting it.

So the matter was left to the following Monday.

By then, the CPS had thrown in the towel and made no objection to the judge re-opening the defence application to stop the proceedings.

Judge McCreath not only halted the trial — he also dismissed the case against Michael Coombs, who had already pleaded guilty to supplying the cocaine.

He said that if he had thrown out the case earlier, Coombs would not have had to stand trial.

In his judgment, McCreath was scathing about Mahmood’s evidence about Alan Smith’s statements:

“When he gave evidence last week, he was asked questions on the same topic and gave answers which were entirely inconsistent with his earlier evidence.”

“And it certainly appears that the contact he had with Mr Smith was not unconnected with a fundamental change in the evidence which it was anticipated Mr Smith was going to give.”

“He was, as you will have understood, expected to be able to give evidence supportive of Ms Contostavlos — that she told him she disapproves of hard drugs.”

RUPERT MURDOCH THE BILLIONAIRE media tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood. Is he now beginning to wonder if the "Fake Sheikh" has outlived his usefulness? Photo: PA

RUPERT MURDOCH
THE BILLIONAIRE media tycoon has always had a soft spot for Mazher Mahmood…    Photo: PA

“But after his conversation with Mr Mahmood, he had changed his mind.”

“It should not be forgotten that Mr Mahmood is

– the sole progenitor of this case

– the sole investigator

– the sole prosecution witness

– a man who has exercised his journalistic privilege to create a situation where the identities of others involved in the investigation are unknown to the defence (or the prosecution or even to me)

– someone who appears to have gone to considerable lengths to get Ms Contostavlos to agree to involve herself in criminal conduct, certainly to far greater lengths that would have been regarded as appropriate had he been a police investigator.”

He concluded:

 “there are strong grounds for believing that Mr Mahmood told me lies when he gave evidence to me on June 27”.

And he added:

“there are also strong grounds for believing that the underlying purpose of these lies was to conceal the fact that he had been manipulating the evidence in this case by getting Mr Smith to change his account.”

He ended by saying, ominously for Mahmood:

“My view of the evidence cannot bind any other court which may (or may not) be called on to consider this matter in a different context.”

The fall-out from the collapse of the case was instant.

The Sun suspended Mahmood until an “immediate internal investigation” was complete.

The paper issued a statement:

“We are very disappointed with this outcome, but do believe the original investigation was conducted within the bounds of the law and the industry’s code.”

But it added:

The Sun, of course, takes the judge’s remarks very seriously.”

A spokesman for The Sun told us this week Mahmood remains suspended and that “the internal investigation is ongoing.”

“I will not divulge further details of an internal investigation.”

He added that Alan Smith “worked on an ad-hoc basis with Mr Mahmood.”

The Met said:

” … the Metropolitan Police Service have been able to consider the judgment issued by the trial Judge along with other material supplied by the Prosecution Counsel …”.

“As a consequence of the information supplied officers from Specialist Crime and Operations are now investigating whether any of the matters highlighted amount to the commission of any criminal offences.”

The CPS said it “has no investigative powers and therefore any criminal investigations following the conclusion of this case are a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service.”

On September 30 lawyers for Tulisa Contostavlos will be in court for a hearing to determine if the Sun on Sunday should pay her legal costs.

They have still not decided if she will sue the newspaper.

♦♦♦

THE COLLAPSE of the trial raises many questions.

There’s no doubt the Metropolitan Police had no choice but to investigate when presented with clear evidence that Michael Coombs had sold drugs to Mahmood.

But the force was well aware that Mahmood, throughout his career, has come in for sustained criticism about his methods, some of it from judges.

They should have subjected his evidence to a forensic investigation of their own.

It should have been the force that interviewed Alan Smith and not have left it to the defence to force them to do it.

If Smith had not been interviewed, it’s possible Tulisa Contostavlos would now have a criminal record.

NEW SCOTLAND YARD When Press Gang editor wrote and asked the force to investigate  allegations that Mazher Mahmood may have committed perjury in many of the cases where he gave evidence, there was no reply. Photo: Rebecca Television

NEW SCOTLAND YARD
IN 2012 Press Gang editor Paddy French wrote and asked the force to investigate allegations that Mazher Mahmood may have committed perjury in many of the cases where he gave evidence. There was no reply.                    Photo: Rebecca Television

The force can’t say it wasn’t warned about the possibility of Mahmood committing perjury.

InNovember 2012 the editor of this website, Paddy French, wrote to Sue Akers, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, asking her to investigate allegations that Mahmood was a serial perjurer.

The letter cited the claim he made to the Leveson Inquiry, under oath, that he had more than 250 criminal convictions to his credit while he was Investigations Editor at the News of the World.

This was untrue.

Paddy French and researcher Chris Nichols had examined the News of the World throughout Mahmood’s career — and could find reports of only 70 convictions.

The full story is contained in the article The Life And Times Of A Serial Perjurer.

In the wake of this investigation, the Leveson Inquiry put the allegation to Mahmood.

What was then called News International called in the lawfirm Linklaters to carry out a proper audit.

In a subsequent statement to Leveson, Mahmood admitted that Linklaters could only find 94.

The letter also drew attention to the case against the London’s Burning actor John Alford who was gaoled in 1999 for supplying cocaine to Mahmood.

“In the September 2000 judgment refusing the actor known as John Alford leave to appeal against a nine month sentence for supplying cocaine to Mazher Mahmood’s undercover team in 1999, the court noted that Mahmood claimed 89 SCPs [successful criminal prosecutions”.

At that point, French and Nichols had found only 28.

The letter concluded by asking the Met “to examine Mr Mahmood’s testimony in all the court cases he gave evidence in to see if he has potentially committed perjury …”

A press officer told us Akers had retired and “the letter has been forwarded to deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh for consideration.”

“You will be contacted in due course.”

Kavanagh never replied.

♦♦♦

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FAKE CONVICTIONS

August 29, 2014
FAKE CONVICTIONS

THE COLLAPSE of the Tulisa Contostavlos trial in July is the latest scandal to hit Rupert Murdoch’s prize investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood.

The case against the singer-turned-entertainer was thrown out when the judge said Mahmood — also known as the “Fake Sheik” — lied when he gave evidence to the court.

Now the Metropolitan Police is considering possible perjury charges against the Sun on Sunday reporter.

Lies have been a staple part of Mahmood’s amoral newspaper career — and Press Gang has been at the heart of exposing many of them.

Here we republish an article which first appeared in April 2012.

It tells the story of an unscrupulous journalist who will do anything — including committing perjury in the witness box — to get ahead.

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS THE SINGER"S trial collapsed in July after the judge found that mazher Mahmood had lied under oath.  Photo: PA                                                              THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box ...    Photo: PA

TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS THE SINGER walked free after Sun on Sunday undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood was caught lying in the witness box … Photo: PA

♦♦♦

ONE OF the few people to come out of the News of the World hacking scandal with his reputation intact was Investigations Editor Mazher Mahmood.

After the gaoling of royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private eye Glenn Mulcaire in 2007, Mahmood was held up as a beacon of the real News of the World.

In 2008 the Murdoch-owned HarperCollins published Confessions of a Fake Sheik in which Mahmood claimed:

“To date I have been responsible for more than 230 successful criminal prosecutions.”

When he made a statement for the Leveson Inquiry in 2011 the figure has risen to 253.

But when Press Gang challenged Mahmood to provide the evidence to substantiate the claim his employers News International refused to provide a list.

We carried out our own investigaton and went through every article Mazher Mahmood had written for the News of the World.

There was only evidence to support 70.

And we found evidence Mazher Mahmood may have protected a relative who was involved in a fake passport racket …

THE MAN WITH NO FACE One of the few photographs of Mazher Mahmood, taken many years ago. The former Investigations Editor of the News of the World has claimed that publishing his picture would endanger his life.

THE MAN WITH NO FACE
ONE OF the few photographs of Mazher Mahmood, taken many years ago. The former Investigations Editor of the News of the World claims that publishing his picture would endanger his life …

♦♦♦

WHEN FORMER News of the World Investigations Editor Mazher Mahmood appeared before Lord Leveson in December 2011, he was allowed a special concession.

Leveson ordered that the television cameras be turned off.

“For good reason,” he said, “this evidence is being heard in circumstances that, although the witness’ account will be given orally, it will not be screened visually … to the public.”

“I make that order having regard to all the circumstances of the case.”

Leveson never explained what the “good reason” was but it’s likely the judge accepted Mahmood’s claim that showing his face would endanger his life.

Five years earlier, however, another judge had come to a different conclusion.

It happened as a result of a Mazher Mahmood undercover sting involving the MP George Galloway.

Posing as the Fake Sheik, Mahmood had dinner with Galloway at the Dorchester Hotel in London in March 2006.

GEORGE GALLOWAY The MP was one of the few victims of Mazher Mahmood's "Fake Sheikh" stings to see through the disguise. He posted photographs of Mahmood on the internet.

GEORGE GALLOWAY
THE MP was one of the few victims of Mazher Mahmood’s Fake Sheik stings to see through the disguise. He posted photographs of Mahmood on the internet.   Photo: PA

Galloway believes Mahmood was trying to entice him into illegally accepting campaign contributions from foreign donors.

“After dessert”, Mahmood says in his book Confessions of a Fake Sheik, “Galloway enjoyed a coffee and posed for a picture with myself and my minder Jaws …”

Jaws — a giant of a man with a “full deck of gold teeth with diamonds embedded” — was actually Mahmood Qureshi, Mazher Mahmood’s second cousin.

Galloway later remembered a section about Mazher Mahmood in Andrew Marr’s book My Trade which contained a description of Jaws.

Galloway went public — and threatened to publish phototgraphs of Mazher Mahmood on his Respect Party website.

The News of the World were awarded a temporary injunction preventing the posting of the images.

But the following day Judge Mitting decided to lift the injunction.

The judge was not impressed by the argument that publication of Mahmood’s image might be useful to targets out for revenge.

“For photographs of Mr Mahmood to be of any use to such people they would have to have a whole package of further information,” the judge noted, “not least information as to his whereabouts and habits.”

“Armed with such information, the photographs might be of some assistance, but one would have expected anybody who had got that information also to have been able to obtain at a mimimum a description — more likely a photograph — of Mr Mahmood to permit them to inflict whatever harm it was that they might have in mind.”

Judge Mitting concluded:

“I am satisfied that the true purpose of this application is not protection of Mr Mahmood’s life and physical integrity but the protection of his earning capacity and position as an investigative journalist and his utility to his employers in that respect.”

♦♦♦

LORD LEVESON’S decision to switch off the cameras inevitably increased the mystique surrounding one of Rupert Murdoch’s star reporters — if his life was under threat, it suggested his journalism must be important.

In his sworn statement to the Inquiry, Mahmood claimed his journalism at the News of the World had led to the successful prosecution of 253 people.

When he gave oral evidence in December 2012, he said this figure was already old hat.

“It’s incorrect, actually,” he said on oath.

“The total has gone up to 261, and as we sit here at the moment, at Southwark Crown Court, two more women are being sentenced as a result of my work.”

So he was claiming a grand total of 263 convictions.

When Press Gang examined the News of the World for the period Mazher Mahmood worked there, we could only find evidence of 70 convictions (see the Appendix for the full list).

In his statement to the Leveson Inquiry Mahmood said:

“… ethics should be of paramount importance in all fields of journalism because in my view a large part of investigative journalism is to expose moral-wrongdoing … ”

The Leveson Inquiry was to examine Mahmood’s own moral compass in some detail.

When he gave evidence to the Inquiry in December last year, Mahmood was asked by barrister David Barr about the reasons why he left the Sunday Times back in 1988.

“Is it right that you left the Sunday Times under something of a cloud …?”

“We had a disagreement,” replied Mahmood, “Correct.”

This interpretation of the crisis that unfolded at the Sunday Times in December 1988 angered Roy Greenslade who had been the managing editor of the paper at the time.

He compiled a witness statement and a series of exhibits and submitted them to the Leveson team.

Greenslade told how, in 1988, he had received a complaint from a police officer about a story Mazher Mahmood had written the previous week.

The story was about a chief inspector in Plymouth who had been convicted of drink driving after an accident.

ROY GREENSLADE The former Sunday Times executive — now professor of journalism at City University London — revealed that Mazher Mahmood resigned from the paper in 1988 minutes before he was to be sacked for dishonesty.

ROY GREENSLADE
THE FORMER Sunday Times executive — now professor of journalism at City University, London — revealed that Mazher Mahmood resigned from the paper in 1988 minutes before he was to be sacked for dishonesty.   Photo: Roy Greenslade

Mahmood wrote that the officer had been demoted to the rank of constable.

In fact, the demotion was only to inspector.

The Sunday Times apologised for the error the following week.

When he was challenged about the mistake, Mahmood claimed that it was the fault of the Devon News Agency which had sent a report of the court case to the Sunday Times.

The news agency were contacted — they insisted their original version had the correct demotion.

The Sunday Times computer room was asked to retrieve the version the agency had sent.

This showed the demotion was to constable.

But in the course of this inquiry, a computer operator mentioned that Mazher Mahmood had recently visited the room.

A more detailed investigation began.

It uncovered an earlier version of the news agency story — the demotion to inspector was correctly reported.

Mahmood admitted going to the computer room but denied tampering with the computer record.

A meeting of senior executives chaired by editor Andrew Neil took place.

It was decided he would be fired.

After the meeting, Greenslade found a letter of resignation from Mahmood on his desk.

“Because of the nature of my work,” Mahmood wrote, “I am only able to operate with the absolute support and trust of my senior colleagues and lawyers, but now that my honesty and integrity is in question, I feel there is no longer a place on the paper.”

After Greenslade’s devastating witness statement, Lord Leveson called Mahmood back before him in January 2013.

David Barr now questioned Mahmood again:

“Tampering with the computer file in order to pass the mistake from yourself to the Devon News Agency was wrong, wasn’t it”

“Absolutely,” admitted Mahmood.

“Look, I was a young reporter,” he added, “and I’d had a series of run-ins with Mr Greenslade while at the paper, and, you know, I’d made a mistake.”

“I acknowledge that, and rather than incur the wrath of an executive I didn’t get on with, I foolishly thought the best way would be to cover my mistake.”

“It was the wrong thing to do, and I resigned.”

Roy Greenslade does not remember having a bad working relationship with Mahmood.

♦♦♦

WHEN THE News of the World closed in July 2011, Mahmood was without a paper for a couple of weeks.

But at the end of August he re-joined the Sunday Times.

Editor John Witherow was asked if he had any concerns about taking on the man who had been caught lying to the paper in 1988.

“Clearly, we checked him out very carefully and needed reassurances that he was not involved in any way with the phone hacking, which he assured us he wasn’t, and independently we were assured he wasn’t.”

“As far as I am aware, the police have no interest in him, so that was very important before we took him on.”

Witherow was happy to have a man of Mahmood’s undercover skills on his staff:

“He has an exemplary record on these sorts of stories.”

“He has instigated, I think, about 250 prosecutions of people, for exposing criminality.”

“Yes, we were concerned but I think he is a remarkable operator in that form of journalism.”

We asked Witherow if he had checked to see if Mazher Mahmood’s claims about the number of convictions stacked up.

He didn’t reply.

WASEEM MAHMOOD, OBE Mazher Mahmood's early career was built on betraying his family including his brother Waseem. At a family dinner, he revealed that some of his brother's colleagues at BBC Birmingham were moonlighting. When Mazher Mahmood exposed the practice, Waseem was forced to resign. When

WASEEM MAHMOOD, OBE
Waseem Mahmood is Mazher’s brother. He was a successful BBC producer in Birmingham in the 1980s — until his brother wrote an exposé of moonlighting at the Pebble Mill studios based on gossip around the Mahmood family dinner table. Waseem Mahmood says: “With only ‘an unnamed BBC insider’ identified as the source for the revelations, I tendered my resignation the day after the article appeared, and when my mother refused to admonish my brother, claiming that it was a good story and that ‘he was only doing his job’, I packed up my wife and children and left the family home, never to return.” Waseem was forced to go abroad to rebuild his shattered career but succeeded — he was awarded an OBE in the 2005 News Years Honours List for his media work in countries affected by war. Photo: Waseem Mahmood

♦♦♦

WHEN MAZHER Mahmood started work at the News of the World in December 1991, he was one of many investigative reporters on the paper.

Under editor Patsy Chapman, he was just another member of the team.

When Piers Morgan took over in January 1994, it’s clear that he didn’t think much of Mahmood.

Readers of his 2005 book The Insider will not find the name Mazher Mahmood in the index.

The feeling was mutual — there’s no mention of Piers Morgan in the index of Mahmood’s 2008 Confessions of a Fake Sheik.

It was not until Phil Hall took over from Morgan in August 1995 that Mahmood’s star began to rise.

Hall made him Investigations Editor and, in March 1996, the paper made a major claim for the success of Mahmood’s articles.

The piece followed the conviction of a solicitor gaoled for six months for living off immoral earnings after an undercover operation.

The conviction, claimed the News of the World, “brings the total of villains successfully prosecuted after being exposed in our pages by Mazher to a staggering EIGHTY in four years.”

But, up to that point, the Press Gang analysis of the News of the World had only carried stories about 13 named people who’d been convicted.

With the mention of a further five unnamed people, the maximum number of successful prosecutions was 18.

♦♦♦

IN THE course of our research, we found an extraordinary story which Mazher Mahmood had published in September 1996.

On the face of it, it was a typical Mahmood operation: he infiltrated a gang run by a Bradford hairdresser who were running a fake passport racket.

The hairdresser was buying genuine passports from British Asians and then amending them so that illegal immigrants could enter the country.

Mahmood posed as one of these buyers and successfully entered the UK via a Eurostar train from Paris.

What made this article unusual was that the man buying the genuine passports was “a local thug called Mehmood, known as Jaws because he has gold teeth studded with diamonds.”

Although the article calls him “Mehmood” and doesn’t give his last name, the description is uncannily similar to the one Mazher Mahmood gives for the Jaws that later became his bodyguard.

This undercover operation could easily have netted three successful criminal prosecutions for Mahmood — yet there is no evidence that he went to the police.

In our recorded delivery letter sent to Mazher Mahmood in March 2012, we asked him if the Jaws in the article was the man who became his bodyguard.

He didn’t reply.

Jaws is one of the key supporting actors in the Mazher Mahmood story.

Until he was paralysed in a car crash in 2006, he had been Mahmood’s bodyguard for several years.

In his book Confessions of a Fake Sheik, published in 2008, Mahmood says: “Jaws was huge, and spent every day at the gym, so was a powerful looking man as well.”

“He was from Bradford and had spent his early adult life committing a number of petty crimes in and around the area.”

“He’d gone to see a fortune teller who told him that a long-lost relative would change his life, so he flew out to Pakistan and spent all his money trying to find a relative who’d do that, speaking in his Yorkshire accent as he went; but found no one to help so returned home”.

“He saw my name in the paper and called me, and I did — change his life, that is.”

“He joined me, working as my bodyguard, and with his size and those teeth he was an unforgettable sight.”

“He was a great man to have standing next to you, intimidating and forceful when needed.”

But three years earlier Jaws, alias Mahmood Qureshi, had given a different version of their relationship.

"JAWS" Mahmmod Quereshi — known as Jaws for his diamond-studded gold teeth — is a key figure in the Mazher Mahmood story. A former criminal, he became a minder and a fixer for Mazher Mahmood.

“JAWS”
Mahmmod Quereshi — known as Jaws for his diamond-studded gold teeth — is a key figure in the Mazher Mahmood story. A former criminal, he became a minder and a fixer for Mazher Mahmood.

He was appearing in a libel action brought by one of the gang Mazher Mahmood had accused of trying to kidnap Victoria Beckham.

Jaws had been part of the undercover team infiltrating the so-called gang.

He was accused of inciting gang members.

While he was on the stand, in April 2005, Jaws changed his evidence.

At first, he’d insisted that he hadn’t been asked by Mazher Mahmood to “initiate conversation about the kidnap”.

But later he admitted that Mazher Mahmood had asked him to do so.

David Price, acting for the gang member, seized on the change of evidence.

He accused Jaws of trying to protect Mahmood in his earlier testimony — claiming that Mahmood had given Jaws “a chance in life” after a life of crime with employment at the News of the World.

“You are trying to protect your cousin,” said Price, “because he gave you a chance in life”.

Jaws replied:

“How did he give me a chance? He did not give me a chance. How?”

Price then went through Jaws’ criminal career — stretching back to 1982 before finally ending in 1999.

“You owe a debt of gratitude to Mr Mahmood and that explains why you lied to the court this morning, that’s what I’m suggesting. Do you want to comment on that?”

“No, I do not want to comment, there’s no comment on that,” replied Qureshi.

“I did not lie. I got it wrong.”

Later, Jaws explained that his entire earnings from his involvement in various News of the World stories was “less than £10,000 … perhaps near £5,000.”

♦♦♦

BY THE time Rebekah Brooks took over the editorship in May 2000, the News of the World was claiming 103 convictions for Mazher Mahmood’s investigations.

This is at odds with the Press Gang analysis at that point: 32 named individuals with another nine who were unnamed.

By the time she left to edit The Sun in January 2003, the News of the World claimed Mazher Mahmood’s convictions stood at 119 compared with our tally of 32 named defendants with a further nine unnamed.

Brooks was replaced by Andy Coulson who lasted four years until he resigned in January 2007 after the paper’s Royal Correspondent Clive Goodman was gaoled for hacking royal phones.

Under his leadership, Mazher Mahmood’s claimed convictions had jumped to 145 but the Press Gang version only showed 62 defendants successfully prosecuted (17 of them unnamed).

Colin Myler replaced Coulson — who went on to become David Cameron’s Director of Communications.

Myler was responsible for the biggest single leap in the claimant count of any News of the World editor — in April 2007 Mazher Mahmood’s total suddenly rocketed to 204 convictions.

Mazher Mahmood claims a high moral purpose: catching criminals, revealing "moral wrong-doing" and exposing hypocrisy. There's no doubt he's caught some serious criminals — including child abusers and would-be murderers — but the bulk of his journalism reveals a different picture. A third of his stories are about sex — over a quarter target celebrities or royalty. A substantial proportion of the people in his stories are originally from the Asian sub-continent. One of the ironies about Mahmood — the child of immigrant parents from Pakistan — is that he spent an enormous amount of his time in the ethnic  communities of Britain looking for people he can expose. This fed into a News of the World agenda that painted Britain as an "open house" for foreign scroungers, cheats and criminals.

THE News of the World claimed a high moral purpose for Mazher Mahmood’s work: catching criminals, revealing “moral wrong-doing” and exposing hypocrisy. There’s no doubt he caught a couple of serious criminals — including child abusers and would-be murderers — but the bulk of his journalism reveals a different picture. A third of his stories are about sex — over a quarter target celebrities or royalty. A substantial proportion of the people in his stories are originally from the Asian sub-continent. One of the ironies about Mahmood — the child of immigrant parents from Pakistan — is that he spent an enormous amount of his time in the ethnic communities of Britain looking for people to expose. This fed into a News of the World agenda that painted Britain as an “open house” for foreign scroungers, cheats and criminals.

This figure arrived out of the blue — the paper had carried reports of only two convictions since the paper’s previous claim of 145.

One possible explanation for the jump was a sting operation which Mazher Mahmood organised in May 2006 to catch illegal immigrants.

Pretending that he wanted people to work, he collected 70 people — and had them driven to the Colnbrook Detention Centre near Heathrow.

Police had already been tipped off and 66 were arrested and detained.

Press Gang asked the Home Office what happened to these people.

They were not able to tell us.

There is no doubt that they could all have been prosecuted for staying in Britain illegally.

But, if that is the case, then it is surprising that the News of the World didn’t report the fact.

There is another way of dealing with illegal immigrants — “administrative removal”.

This is where the immigrant agrees to go back home voluntarily.

This system is fast and cheap and avoids the courts.

Press Gang did not include these people — we considered that, if they had been prosecuted, the News of the World would have reported the fact.

By the time the paper closed in July 2011 it was claiming more than 250 successful criminal prosecutions.

Press Gang could find evidence of only 70 — with 18 of those unnamed.

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APPENDIX: The Successful Criminal Proesecutions of Mazher Mahmood

THE METHODOLOGY followed in preparing the following list of convictions was that all articles written by or featuring Mazher Mahmood were examined.

Between December 1991 and December 1995, physical copies of the News of the World were viewed on microfilm.

From January 1996 to July 2011, all News of the World articles on the Newsbank electronic database were analysed.

The research was carried out by Chris Nichols and Paddy French and took place at the British Library, Colindale, London.

The names of 52 individuals reported to have been convicted (including one where the name was with-held to protect a victim) are listed.

18 convictions where the names are not given are identified separately.

The date of the article where the conviction is reported, if available, is given.

In all cases, the article refers to the conviction and not the original exposé.

1991 No convictions reported.

1992 No convictions reported.

1993 6 convictions reported:
4 July: Terry Valvona & Rosemary Iredale
5 Sept: Norman Wardell
12 Dec: Syed Rizvi, Parghat Heer, Fahim Iqbal

1994 No convictions reported.

1995 9 convictions reported (including 5 unnamed):
17 Sept: Shafique & Salim Mumtaz, Iqbal Raja, Ghulam Murtaza and 5 other unnamed individuals

1996 4 convictions reported:
17 March: Gordon Brown, Paul Garlick
24 March: Stephen Harvey
8 September: Kim Lisles

1997 7 convictions reported (including 3 unnamed):
10 Aug: Mohinder Singh
17 Aug: Bruce Allen, Jonathan Pickering and three others, unnamed
21 Dec: Brenda Tonnesson

1998 2 convictions reported:
14 June: Iqbal Master
20 Dec: Clifford Davies

1999 4 convictions reported:
9 May: John Alford 26 Sept: Earl Hardwicke, Stefan Thwaites
17 Oct: disc jockey Johnnie Walker

2000 7 convictions were reported:
20 Feb: Dr Manohar Rangwani
28 May: Mohammed Khan
13 Aug: Mohammed Yousif
1 Oct: Gary Harris, David Weir, Barry Dickenson Undated: Ishmail Pirbhai [not reported in 2000 but cited in final News of the World issue in July 2011]

2001 No convictions reported.

2002 3 convictions reported (including I unnamed):
2 June: Shaheen Begolli
29 Sept: Antonio Russo + 1 unnamed)

2003 5 convictions reported:
6 July: Joseph Rivas, Luzum Balliu
14 Sept: Neil Montgomery
28 Sept: David Cheney, Sultan Merchant

FINAL EDITION The successful criminal prosecutions of Mazher Mahmood were plastered all over the final issue of the paper in July 2011. They were bogus ...

FINAL EDITION
THE News of the World was often confused about its claims for the success of Mazher Mahmood. In March 1996, for example, the paper said the number of successful prosecutions was 80 in four years. By December 1997 it was claiming a total of 88 in three years… Often it couldn’t even make its mind up about what it was actually talkng about. In February 2004 it was boasting of 127 people “behind bars” — an absurd claim when many defendants were fined, given suspended sentences or ordered to do community service.

2004 2 convictions reported:
15 Feb: San Keung Yau, Keith Blasdale

2005 3 convictions reported:
30 Jan: Niki Dimitrov
10 April: Agha Mohammed, Besnik Qema

2006 11 convictions reported (including 9 unnamed):
23 July: Paul Singh, Adeola Magbagebeola and 9 others, unnamed.

2007 3 convictions reported:
8 April: Rani & Joginder Kashyap
22 April: Name withheld to protect daughter [but counted as named for the purposes of this survey].

2008 2 convictions reported:
26 Oct: Mohammed Kutubuddin
Undated: Gary Pennant [not reported in 2008 but cited in final News of the World edition in July 2011]

2009 No convictions reported.

2010 2 convictions reported:
24 Jan: Suresh Kumar, Baldev Sidhu

2011 No convictions reported.
The News of the World closed in July 2011.

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