Report by Associated Press
April 10, 2012
Blogger Guido Fawkes’ website: http://order-order.com/page/2/
A blogger has leaked the names of three dozen British journalists allegedly involved with an investigator linked to hacking.
The leak poses another potential embarrassment for the UK’s scandal-tarred media.
Paul Staines, who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes, published what he said were more than 1000 recorded transactions between staffers at News International and freelance detective Steve Whittamore, who was convicted of trading in illegally obtained information. News Corp is the parent company of News International and of the publisher of this report.
In a blog post, Mr Staines said he wanted to expose the “industrial scale criminality” perpetrated by Britain’s press, accusing newspaper companies of refusing to name names because they “do not wish to report their own crimes.”
Whittamore worked with hundreds of reporters, bending or breaking the law to keep his clients supplied with unlisted numbers, vehicle registration records and other confidential information. Whittamore was convicted in 2005, but did not go to prison and none of the journalists who were named in his files were ever punished.
Interest in Whittamore and his associates has been revived by Britain’s phone hacking scandal, which erupted last year after it emerged that the News of the World tabloid routinely hacked into the phones of celebrities and others in the news and bribed officials to win scoops.
The hacking scandal has rocked Britain’s establishment, leading to a slew of arrests, lawsuits, settlements and high-profile resignations. News Corporation has since closed the News of the World and a judge-led inquiry could yet propose sweeping changes to the way Britain’s press is regulated.
Several British media organisations – including the Guardian, The Independent and ITV News – have run stories based on the documents recovered from Whittamore’s office, but so far none have identified the journalists involved.
Staines did so yesterday, publishing a spreadsheet naming 35 journalists from News International.
The Guido Fawkes blog, whose name is a reference to the 17th-century Catholic who tried to blow up British Parliament, only published a small subset of the more than 300 reporters named in Whittamore’s files, but it includes several people at the heart of the hacking scandal.
Among them: former News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch’s protege Rebekah Brooks (under her maiden name); former News of the World Chief Reporter Neville Thurlbeck (whose name is misspelt in the file); and the scandal’s first whistleblower, Sean Hoare, who has since died.
A spokesman for Mrs Brooks did not immediately return a call and an email seeking comment. Mr Thurlbeck declined comment, as did News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop.
The Information Commissioner’s Office – which investigated Whittamore – declined to authenticate the spreadsheet, but in a statement his organisation said authorities had been mulling whether to release the information before it appeared online.
“It’s most unfortunate that Guido Fawkes has chosen to jump the gun,” the statement said.
Being in Whittamore’s files isn’t necessarily evidence of wrongdoing – some of his searches could have been carried out by checking voter rolls or county court records.
However many tasks – such as police records or vehicle registration searches – could have been against the law. And if journalists knew how Whittamore was getting his information, they could have been prosecuted alongside him.
But even if wrongdoing could now be proven, the limitation period attached to Britain’s Data Protection Act means that prosecution of the journalists is not likely.
As The Blogger, Guido Fawkes (real name Paul Staines) wrote on his blog – http://order-order.com/page/2/ – on 9 April, 2012:
The Operation Motorman files are huge, the thousands of entries contained in the files are a mere snapshot of the industrial scale criminality carried out by the press. Today Guido is releasing the Blue Book section of the Operation Motorman files covering the 1,028 News International related entries out of a total of some 17,000. These files are known to most newspaper editors and to Guido’s knowledge no action has been taken against the journalists named within, some of whom are now senior journalists. To Guido’s knowledge Guardian journalists have possession of the files covering the Mail and Mirror groups. One wonders why they so far have only been willing to name the names of journalists from the Murdoch press…
It seems to Guido that there is no political will to see this through, the press are by and large keen for their own reasons to suppress the truth and the judiciary are actively suppressing the evidence. In those circumstances it is only by bringing the evidence out into the open that justice will be done.
For those interested, this is the actual leaked document: