Entries from February 2012 ↓

A response to Trevor Kavanagh

It is no surprise that after 34 years of loyal service to News International, Trevor Kavanagh is trying to persuade people to think the police, goaded by “witchunters”, are behaving heavy handedly.

In listening to his pleading, let us not forget that at the High Court last week, his employers, News Group Newspapers, were forced to admit that executives and staff had lied to the police, misled the public and destroyed evidence.

Then last week the Metropolitan police admitted to the court that it had not done enough to get to the bottom of the hacking scandal at Wapping.

So the notion that the police might politely ring up to make an appointment to see a Sun journalist for a civilised chat is far-fetched.

It takes some nerve for News International, in the form of Kavanagh, to be accusing the police of wasting time and resources. It is News International’s behaviour that is to blame for police having to devote immense time and resources to establish the facts.

By deliberately lying to the police and trashing evidence they have made the job far more complex and expensive than it should have been.

If further justification is needed, in the Dowler case, Surrey police revealed they had been bullied and deceived by News International.

The police are no doubt conscious of the remarks from the former Chair of the Press Complaints Commission Baroness Buscombe who said:

“There’s only so much we can do when people are lying to us. We know now that I was not being given the truth by the News of the World.”

I am sure the public will be able to judge for themselves Kavanagh’s motives in making this attack.

Exposed – The bullying culture at The Sun

sun front page

This week, editor of the Sun Dominic Mohan, told the Leveson enquiry “it is wrong to suggest that the Sun trivialises offences against women.” That must have come as breaking news to some of the long-suffering employees at the beleaguered paper.

One extremely frightened Wapping-based journalist, who spoke to me on the basis of anonymity, explained she “was terrified of my company.” The journalist explained that at least five female journalists at the paper had been sacked in the last eight years. At least two of the sacked women went on to win compensation after challenging their dismissals.

A company spokes person refused to comment on the sackings. I’d be happy to publish a comment should they change their mind.

Now the Sun’s shocking behaviour towards some of its female employees has reached Parliament. Whitehall editor at The Sun Clodagh Hartley, has recently had a complaint of bullying upheld by an independent adjudicator. According to a number of credible sources, the adjudicator found that her line manager, Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn, was guilty of bullying. He remains in post. It is not known whether Hartley, currently on maternity leave will be returning to work.

When asked about the matter yesterday, Mr Newton Dunn said that he was unable to comment on the allegations. Warning me to be very careful what I publish, he claimed that all enquiries should be directed to a company press officer. Yet when I telephoned a spokesperson for the company, they also declined to comment, saying that it is a policy not to comment on staff matters. If the company, or indeed Mr Newton Dunn, care to comment on the allegations I would be delighted to publish their response.

“Good girl”

One source in the parliamentary lobby tells me that Newton Dunn told colleagues that Hartley will not be returning to her post when her maternity leave ends. Newton Dunn, who is known to credit his female colleagues with phrases like “good girl”, may not be aware that Hartley has rights in employment law.

The situation will worry The Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan, who has a lot on his plate after the recent arrests of Mike Sullivan, the paper's crime editor; the former managing editor, Graham Dudman; executive editor, Fergus Shanahan; and Chris Pharo, a news desk executive.

Yet to lose Hartley from the political team could cause more embarrassment than Mohan imagines.

One of the paper's biggest ever political scoops was to obtain the contents of the Hutton report into the death of former UN weapons inspector David Kelly before publication. The paper splashed the story with the headline “Hutton Report Leaked” over a photograph of political editor Trevor Kavanagh holding a telephone. Kavanagh, who claimed he had been read the contents of the report over the telephone by an “impartial” source went on to tell the BBC “the source had nothing to gain financially or politically, no axe to grind, no vested interest". Kavanagh's reputation as a doyen of Fleet Street was cemented. The paper collected numerous awards that year including scoop of the year. The story helped Kavanagh collect the reporter of the year award at the newspaper industry’s equivalent to the oscars.

What an embarrassment it would be were Hartley, who got zero credit for the scoop, to reveal herself as the reporter that brought in the story.

Ken’s policing pledge for London

police helmet graphicKen Livingstone today launched a new campaign against rising violent crime and police cuts in London, pledging to:

1. Reverse Boris Johnson’s cuts to 1700 police officers

2. Reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams, more of which will be beefed up to a minimum of nine officers, reversing the Tory Mayor’s cut to 300 sergeants in 2011.

According to the Metropolitan Police violent crimes such as robbery, residential burglary and rape have all risen while police have been cut. Knife crime has risen every year under Boris Johnson.

Police officer numbers peaked in 2010 at 33,260 officers. According to the Metropolitan Police there are currently just 31,657 officers in London. On Tuesday 24th January 2012 Boris Johnson admitted cutting 1700 police officers on LBC.

Ken Livingstone said,

“Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts. And I will reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams, more of which will be beefed up to a minimum of nine officers.

At a time when violent crimes including robbery, knife crime and rape are all rising in London it’s time to reverse the Tory Mayor’s cuts to the police and make the streets safer.”

Labour’s London Assembly transport spokesperson, Joanne McCartney AM said,

“Londoners across the capital have been appalled by Boris Johnson’s police cuts. It’s essential that there is a visible policing presence on our streets.

Boris Johnson’s decision to cut 1700 police officers, including 300 experienced local police team sergeants shows why he is increasingly known as a Mayor who is completely out of touch.”

Metropolitan Police officer numbers 2008 – 2011:

Date Police officer numbers
31/03/2008 – 31,398
31/03/2009) – 32,543 (funded by Ken Livingstone’s last Mayoral budget in February 2008)
31/03/2010) – 33,260
31/01/2011) – 32,380
31/10/2011) – 31,478

Police to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London over email hacking

Text of letter for people who can’t see embedded Google Docs:

Dear Mr Watson

Re: Email Hacking at The Times newspaper

Thank you for your letter dated 23 January 2012, and subsequent letter clarifying the position around the evidence given by The Times to the Leveson Inquiry.

I write to reassure you that the concerns raised within your letter are under investigation and officers from Operation Tuleta are dealing directly with the victim.

John Levett
Detective Superintendent
Operation Tuleta
pp Deputy Assistant Commissioner Akers