I was taken aback to read of the number of private meetings, mainly dinners, between senior officers of the Metropolitan police and News of the World representatives. A spokesman for the Metropolitan police gave a nonchalant response saying only “Senior officers from the Metropolitan Police meet representatives from a wide range of media as a necessary part of their roles.”
News International’s response was typically more aggressive. They said:
“We never comment on what was discussed at private dinners but we would like to ask The Independent how many times the editor or senior staff met with senior policemen during the same period?”
They’re right of course. It may be that people are jumping to conclusions and being unfair to the News of the World. It could be that senior officers were meeting other media organisations a similar number of times to the News of the World, though of course, I don’t think that any of them were being investigated for criminal wrong doing.
I decided to extrapolate the figures to see how the picture would look if the Met had met other media outlets on the same basis as NoTW.
It shows that Sir Paul Stephenson between 2006 and 2010 would have shared hospitality 240 times. Here’s the PDF to show my working out.
As the Guardian points out, the figures revealed by the Metropolitan police do not tell the whole story of the meetings between News International and senior officers. As they say “The list excludes meetings arranged by the Crime Reporters Association on the grounds that the NoW would not be the only paper present. It also excludes meetings at social events that were not organised by the paper. There is no mention, for example, of the Police Bravery Awards in July 2009, when – 10 days after the Yard had elected not to reopen its inquiry into the phone hacking – Stephenson and Yates dined with Rebekha Brooks the former editor of the News of the World and the then editor of the Sun, which sponsored the awards.”
One thing to note: The figures will not reveal the meetings and lunches shared between senior Met officers and former News of the World personnel who worked for the paper during the phone hacking investigation.