Ms Sue Akers QPM
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Metropolitan Police Service
New Scotland Yard
23 January 2012
I write to ask you to investigate email hacking at The Times newspaper.
The Chief Executive of News International, Thomas Mockridge, has admitted to illicit email hacking in written evidence to Leveson on 14th October and 16th December 2010. Indeed, in his December evidence, Mr Mockridge makes the remarkable assertion that the journalist who hacked the email raised it with his managers before the decision to publish the article. The relevant passage from the evidence of Mockridge is here:
“At paragraph 20.2 of my first witness statement I referred to a reporter at The Times who might have gained unauthorised access to a computer in 2009. At the date of my first witness statement, it was my understanding that the reporter in question had denied gaining such access. Following further enquiries, I now understand that the reporter in fact admitted the conduct during disciplinary proceedings, although he claimed that he was acting in the public interest. The journalist was disciplined as result. He was later dismissed from the business for an unrelated matter. ”
The journalist, who used the illegally gathered information to identify the name of a serving police officer, claimed public interest guided his actions. His managers, however, clearly did not. This is demonstrated in the “The author of a blog vs Times Newspapers Ltd” 9th June 2009.
In an attempt to protect his privacy, the police officer in question sought an injunction. Far from putting forward a public interest defence, lawyers representing The Times claimed that the information was obtained through entirely legitimate means.
In his ruling of 16th June 2009, Mr Justice Eady makes it clear that the newspaper claimed that no laws were broken during the case:
“It was asserted in the Claimant’s skeleton for the hearing of 28 May that his identity had been disclosed to The Times in breach of confidence. By the time the matter came before me, on the other hand, Mr Tomlinson was prepared to proceed on the basis that the evidence relied upon from Mr Patrick Foster, the relevant journalist, was correct; that is to say, that he had been able to arrive at the identification by a process of deduction and detective work, mainly using information available on the Internet.”
As the story was eventually published the day after the court handed down judgment, this can only mean that The Times knew their defence was factually incorrect while the litigation was live or during the period the paper was waiting for the judge to deliver the judgment.
Further, the management team appear to have withheld knowledge of a crime being committed from the directors of parent company, News Corp. In his evidence of 10th November 2011 – one month after Mr Mockridge admitted knowledge of email hacking to a judge, Mr James Murdoch denied knowledge of it to Parliament. In answer to a question Mr Murdoch Jnr said: “I am not aware of any of the computer hacking that you have talked about in the past”.
It is clear that a crime has been committed – illicit hacking of personal emails. It is almost certain that a judge was misled. In turn, James Murdoch has misled a parliamentary inquiry into where Parliament had been previously misled by executives of News International.
A journalist and unnamed managers failed to report the crime to their proprietor or the police. This runs counter to the assurances of Rupert Murdoch that News International takes a “zero tolerance approach to wrongdoing.”
I must ask that you investigate computer hacking at The Times. In so doing you will also be able to establish whether perjury and a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice have also occurred.
In light of the seriousness of these allegations, I am copying this letter to the Attorney General.
At the recent News Corp AGM in Los Angles, Mr Viet Dinh, the director of News Corp responsible for good corporate governance, gave me his assurance that he would get to the bottom of all allegations of computer hacking. Out of courtesy, I am also copying this letter to him.
Thank you in advance for your assistance. I look forward to hearing from you.