Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The glaring contrast between police investigations of Sheridan for perjury and the Murdoch press for phone hacking

The three year jail sentence given to Tommy Sheridan for perjury is considerably longer than many offenders get for serious violent assaults. Irrespective of whether you believe Sheridan is guilty or not, this underlines the fact that this trial has a large political element, with the establishment parties, the police and the Murdoch media empire closing ranks to punish those who resist them.

When police suspected Sheridan of perjury in a case against the News of the World they made a surpise raid on his house with thirty officers, interrogated his wife and accused her of theft of airline miniature drinks (her employer British Airways later exonerating here) and of using “terrorist techniques” when she said her lawyer had advised her not to answer their questions (1) – (2).

When the News of the World is suspected of illegally hacking thousands of peoples’ phones, including Tommy Sheridan’s, the police write the newspaper polite letters asking them if they have any evidence they would like to provide them with, hide evidence of whose phones were hacked from victims and from the Crown Prosecution Service; and say they’ve no legal obligation to investigate or charge all those involved (3) – (10).

They politely interview Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor (and until recently chief spin doctor to Prime Minister David Cameron) – and decide he has no charges to answer, despite former News of the World journalists saying he must have been aware of the systematic phone hacking carried out routinely by the paper’s journalists (3) – (10).

The News of the World says it has “impounded” the computer of one of their staff who is being investigated by police in order supposedly as part of an “internal inquiry” to look for any evidence he was breaking the law – in fact giving them the opportunity to delete emails and other evidence if they want to (11). Would Tommy Sheridan have been allowed to investigate his own computer, rather than the police doing it? Why is the News of the World trusted to investigate itself? The obvious answer is that it has political friends in high places - and the votes of those stupid or gullible enough to read and believe it for sale.

Rupert Murdoch’s papers have helped the winning parties into power in every election since 1979. It was Sky News and the Sun newspaper who set up Gordon Brown in the Mrs Duffy affair for example – though Duffy turned down the Sun’s attempt to bribe her to say she would vote Conservative. Sky and the Sun, like the News of the World, are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s companies (12) – (13).

This episode tells you all you need to know about how impartial the UK’s police and legal system are; little justice here – and lots of protecting those with power and influence.

(1) = Herald 22 Mar 2008 ‘'No charges' for Gail Sheridan over drink miniatures’,

(2) = Herald 03 Dec 2010 ‘Crown drops more Sheridan perjury charges’, ; (scroll down to sub-heading near bottom of article)

(3) = 7 Jan 2011 ‘Met asks News of the World for new phone hacking evidence’,

(4) = Independent 13 Jan 2011 ‘Scotland Yard fights to keep phone-hacking targets a secret’,

(5) = 6 Jan 2011 ‘Tommy Sheridan to sue NoW and Met over phone hacking’,

(6) = 07 Sep 2010 ‘John Prescott to sue Met over phone hacking details’,

(7) = 02 Sep 2010 ‘MP demands judicial inquiry into News of the World phone-hacking claims’, ; ‘According the New York Times: "The officials didn't discuss certain evidence with senior prosecutors, including the notes suggesting the involvement of other reporters, according to a senior prosecutor on the case. The prosecutor was stunned to discover later that the police had not shared everything. 'I would have said we need to see how far this goes' and 'whether we have a serious problem of criminality on this news desk,' said the former prosecutor."....Referring to this allegation in his letter to No 10, Watson wrote: "The testimony given to the NYT is that the police did not share all the relevant information with the CPS. And that if they had done, the CPS would have reached different conclusions. These are clear grounds for a judicial inquiry. Please can you confirm your intention to recommend one."

(8) = 05 Sep 2011 ‘MPs seek fresh investigation into News of the World phone hacking’,

A note of a case conference between police and the CPS records that detectives recommended that "the appropriate strategy is to ringfence the case to minimise the risk of extraneous matters being included".

In a briefing note for ministers produced earlier this year, Dean Haydon, Yates's staff officer acknowledged: "Minimal work was done on the vast personal data where no criminal offences were apparent."…

The specific allegation that No 10 communications director Andy Coulson had known about phone hacking when he was editor of the News of the World were "recycled", a senior cabinet minister, Michael Gove, said.

He said the police decided "there was no case to answer" over claims public figures had their phones tapped while Coulson was editor.’

(9)  = New York Times 01 Sep 2010 ‘Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond’,

The litigation is beginning to expose just how far the hacking went, something that Scotland Yard did not do. In fact, an examination based on police records, court documents and interviews with investigators and reporters shows that Britain’s revered police agency failed to pursue leads suggesting that one of the country’s most powerful newspapers was routinely listening in on its citizens.

The police had seized files from Mulcaire’s home in 2006 that contained several thousand mobile phone numbers of potential hacking victims and 91 mobile phone PIN codes. Scotland Yard even had a recording of Mulcaire walking one journalist — who may have worked at yet another tabloid — step by step through the hacking of a soccer official’s voice mail, according to a copy of the tape. But Scotland Yard focused almost exclusively on the royals case, which culminated with the imprisonment of Mulcaire and Goodman. When police officials presented evidence to prosecutors, they didn’t discuss crucial clues that the two men may not have been alone in hacking the voice mail messages of story targets.

“There was simply no enthusiasm among Scotland Yard to go beyond the cases involving Mulcaire and Goodman,” said John Whittingdale, the chairman of a parliamentary committee that has twice investigated the phone hacking. “To start exposing widespread tawdry practices in that newsroom was a heavy stone that they didn’t want to try to lift.” Several investigators said in interviews that Scotland Yard was reluctant to conduct a wider inquiry in part because of its close relationship with News of the World.’

(10) = 01 Sep 2010 ‘Andy Coulson discussed phone hacking at News of the World, report claims’,

(11) = 03 jan 2011 ‘Internal inquiry launched into News of the World phone hacking’,

(12) = BBC News 28 Apr 2010 ‘Gordon Brown 'bigoted woman' comment caught on tape’,

(13) = Independent 30 Apr 2010 ‘How Mrs Duffy refused to dance to anti-Brown tune played by ‘The Sun’’,

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