HACKGATE DAY 56: Why the Met Police are playing with fire

The police and Newscorp: why the evidence supports Chris Bryant

Bryant….outspoken attack

Deafening silence from the Daily Telegraph continues

In a blistering attack on Newscorp, the police, and the political class yesterday, Labour MP Chris Bryant confirmed his position as the lightning conductor for those of us wishing to get at the truth about Hackgate. The glare of suspicion is now turned upon potentially corrupt senior police officers: it will not present the Met Police in a favourable light.

Sometimes, you have to laugh. Last Wednesday the Murdoch Times ran a lengthy feature on how our true-grit Prime Minister is determined to sort the police force out. This is the same Newscorp suspected by many of bunging police officers for information, and working in a shadowy manner with former top terrorist cop Andy Hayman. That’s the same Andy Hayman who lied to a Commons Select Committee about the number of victims with phones hacked by that same Newscorp. The same Andy Hayman now employed by that same Newscorp. That’ll be the same Newscorp that got their man Andy Coulson into the top job at Number Ten. Wherein sits that same Prime Minister, David Cameron.

What a disgustingly vicious circle it’s all turning out to be. How incredibly brazen and uncaring these movers and shakers are when it comes to the Law. And why not? They have very little to fear  – as long as the CPS continues to protect the politicians involved, and the Met Police continues to protect Newscorp executives. A great many hopes are now pinned upon Sue Akers; we must hope that they aren’t misplaced.


Predictably yesterday, the only two titles with clean hands – the Guardian and Independent – gave full exposure to the Bryant speech. On the Telegraph site it is nowhere to be seen: perhaps some of the former Mailmen there are too busy trying to wash their hands – OCD is a terrible affliction – or perhaps they are too wounded by the Spikes of Sark to carry on. We cannot tell.

But having established reasonably well that most of Fleet Street has been routinely breaking the privacy and police corruption laws since forever, it’s the Metropolitan Police’s turn to either come clean or play dirty. Thus far, they have stuck rigidly to the latter policy.

The man with a profile lower than a set of Maserati tyres at the moment is Andy Hayman, a man who thinks 1000’s = 12, but who nevertheless is supposed to have a crime column in the Times newspaper. Whether that’s to write about how to do it or how to stop it is unclear, as he doesn’t write much at all. In fact, there’s no record of any article in either of the Times titles either this year or last. The switchboard have ‘never heard of him’. And he’s definitely not a PAYE employee.

Yet only last September, Michael White wrote in the Grauniad:

‘….the spider’s web of News International connections can easily seem a bit too cosy. Andy Hayman, who headed the original inquiry into the phone-hacking affair, now writes for the Times….’

If this is true, then he must have the highest rate per word of any journalist anywhere in the world – because he writes nothing at all….or so a friendly Wapping computer base tells me. Incidentally, White added in the same piece that

‘….if you want to get really paranoid, note that ex-Met chief Lord Stevens went on to write a NotW column…’

On 29th August last year, The News of the World claimed it gave £150,000 to a middleman who provided details about three no-balls which later occurred when predicted in Pakistan’s final Test against England at Lord’s. Lord Stevens had this to say at the time:

“We shouldn’t rely on the News of the World to do business which is in the public interest.”

Nice little plug for the ‘public interest’ defence there, your Lordship. But at least it’s clear what this peer is doing to earn his Newscorp crust.

He’s quite a keen sportsman, John Stevens. So let’s turn to the question of his role in the noble sport of Premiership soccer.

The Premiership is Murdoch’s golden egg-laying goose. It brings him an enormous stream of revenue and – as he has increasingly made successful bids for more and more coverage – driven sales of his satellite TV service. The very BSkyB service he’s just been given the go-ahead to gobble up, in fact.

In 2006, rumblings about corruption in the buying and selling of Premiership players became so loud, Lord Stevens was asked to head an inquiry into it. On 15 June 2007, that inquiry issued its final report about issues involving 17 player transfers, involving five clubs, three managers and numerous agents and other third parties. Its bottom line was:

“There is no evidence of any irregular payments to club officials or players, and they are identified only as a consequence of the outstanding issues the inquiry has with the agents involved”

This was a great relief to all concerned. Three clubs were subsequently raided. Apart from giving Portsmouth’s Harry Redknapp a funny turn for a brief time, nothing came of it.

As  for what Stevens is doing now, this from the Mail recently:

‘According to sources at the Football Association, the ironically nicknamed Old Safe Hands — or The Chief, in his News of the World incarnation — is in the Middle East attempting to fix up a security consultancy for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Colleagues think he might end up the richest bobby of all time.’


Now of course, none of  this may add up to a hill of beans – and indeed, my lawyers are expressly keen for me to stress that.

But it is part of the duty of any figure in public administration – particularly a police officer – to be utterly beyond reproach. I am here to tell you that few if any of those involved in this grubby Hackgate thing have behaved in a manner anything like that which we should expect. And – as ever – the trail just keeps on leading back to an Australo-American Chinese-marrier who wants to own everything and everyone.

Hayman misled Parliament, and does something as yet unfathomable for Newscorp. Stevens is busy feathering his post-cop nest – an occupation partly involving employment by Newscorp. At the height of the original 2006 scandal, Met police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and his deputy Tim Godwin dined thirteen times with senior Newscorp officials during the period.

These links are suspicious. They need investigating, and explaining. What we don’t need is Met policemen devoting their energies to getting defence lawyer libel suits struck out to protect their own worthless hides. We need some faith restored, and an end to the growing feeling –  however unjustified – that Britain is run by corrupt politicians, bent coppers and law-breaking media executives.

Footnote: Previously, Lord Stevens was personally asked by David Cameron to be Tory candidate for the London mayoral election.