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. . . continued

Three weeks of unrelenting revelations followed the Milly Dowler phone-hacking story that exposed to the general public what had been clear to media critics and commentators for years: that illegal personal information-gathering was rife at the News of the World, and had not been limited to the “one rogue reporter”, Clive Goodman, who was sentenced to four months’ prison in January 2007 for hacking the voicemail of the British royal family’s staff.19 Evidence that began pouring into the public domain included the hacking into the voicemail of the parents of murdered ten-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in 2002;20 the hacking of phones belonging to families of the victims of, and others involved with, the 7 July 2005 London bombings21 and the hacking of voicemail of families of British service personnel killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.22

The Daily Telegraph, a Londonbased national broadsheet, quoted “a senior police source” asserting that “[b]asically every major crime story, every major news event, there was some sort of hacking involved… It was systematic”.23 On 7 July 2011, the BBC reported that police had identified more than 4,000 potential victims of NotW phone hacking.24

And it was on 7 July that James

Murdoch, News Corporation deputy chief operating officer and News International chairman, announced the News of the World’s closure;25 the 168-yearold title published its last edition on Sunday 10 July. By early September, the year had seen at least twelve NotW editorial staff arrested. The tally included very senior figures: chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and former news editor Ian Edmondson (arrested 5 April); former editor Andy Coulson (8 July); former executive editor Neil Wallis (14 July); former NotW and Sun editor and News International chief executive until her resignation on 15 July 2011, Rebekah Brooks (17 July); former managing editor Stuart Kuttner (2 August); and former news editor Greg Miskiw (10 August). Arrests were made under parallel Metropolitan Police Service (MPS, or “Scotland Yard”) investigations into phone hacking, Operation Weeting, and into corrupt payments to police, Operation Elveden. Kuttner, Coulson and Brooks were arrested under both operations.26 A “scoping exercise” into computer hacking, Operation Tuleta, became a full-scale investigation at the end of July.27

While media critics and commentators have not been entirely surprised at the scale of NotW phone hacking, they have also not been surprised at the investigations into corrupt payments to

police, and computer hacking. The scale of criminal activity involved in illegal information gathering by the British press – very significantly, not just by the News of the World – was revealed in March 2003 when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided the home office of a private detective, Steve Whittamore, whose principal clients were journalists. Operation Motorman was underway, and the vast cache of detailed documents seized at Whittamore’s premises proved the detective’s practice, which involved a network of associates, “was not just an isolated business operating occasionally outside the law, but one dedicated to its systematic and highly lucrative flouting”.28 Three hundred and five individual journalists working for thirty-one different publications were identified as “driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information”;29 the scale of journalists’ activity in this trade, according to the ICO’s analysis, places them ahead of four other categories of “customers” for such unlawfully obtained data that includes, in fifth place, “criminals intent on fraud, or seeking to influence jurors, witnesses or legal personnel”.30

Whittamore’s journalist clients had requested 13,343 separate pieces of information, 11,345 of which the ICO “classified as…either certainly or very

probably in breach of the Data Protection Act”.31 Information – such as tracing addresses from telephone numbers, details of vehicles and their owners, details of criminal records, locating people across a wide area, company/director searches, ex-directory telephone numbers, itemised telephone billing and mobile phone records, driving licence details, and information on “friends and family” – had been illegally procured from numerous confidential databases, including the Police National Computer (PNC), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and

/ The scale of the British press' criminal activities was revealed in March 2003. /

telecommunications companies.32 The ICO analysed data concerning the ten most active journalists and “found that between them they had paid Whittamore to obtain 3,291 pieces of information which were certainly or probably illegal, costing them an estimated £164,537.50”.33 A BBC television documentary broadcast in March 2011 presented in a stark light Whittamore’s enterprise in providing the British press with illegally gathered private data and described it as "The tabloid ecosystem and crimes against society" continues in a popup window.

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