Anorak

Anorak | Amelia Hill Will Beat The Corrupt Metropolitan Police And The Civil Servants: Remember Sally Murrer

Amelia Hill Will Beat The Corrupt Metropolitan Police And The Civil Servants: Remember Sally Murrer

by | 17th, September 2011

WHO grassed up the police? Who told the Guardian’s reporters Amelia Hill and Nick Davies that the Metropolitan Police were up to their wallets  in dealings with News International and other tabloids? The Met knew Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. But they never told. They made no arrests. Scotland Yard sat on the news and counted the cash.

And if The Yard knew, what civil servants also knew? The mandarins in Whitehall with their gilded pensions are not immune in this story of greed and lies.

Now the Metropolitan Police are using the Terror Acts to make the Guardian tell all. This is shameful. The police have lost their way. Their case may well be thrown out by the High Court’s Judges …it depends on the lottery of judge selection. Sir Michael George Tugendhat would be the one The Guardian briefs will be hoping for.

The police Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking is soiled by their own duplicity.

Amelia Hill must be helped. Article 10 of the Human Rights Act says Hall does not need to reveal her sources. She is exercising her freedom of expression. Her news is not  a matter of national security. Also, she has not paid for the information. She has not handed over cash to, say, a policemen. No crime has been committed.

Readers may not recall the name Sally Murrer. But the police should.

In 2008, Murrer, a part-time reporter on the Milton Keynes Citizen newspaper, was booked to appear in the dock Kingston Crown Court. Her apparent crime was to have received information from Thames Valley police detective sergeant, Mark Kearney.

The police pursued her with relish. They put her in a cell, strip searched her and subjected her to interrogation. She said:

“I just lost my ability to think coherently. My brain went to cotton wool.”

She was charged with three counts of obtaining police information illegally and aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office. She pleaded not guilty. Police had made secret recordings of her talking to Kearney.

And then judge Richard Southwell stepped in. He said that under European laws any information gathered by the police using the bug should be excluded. The rights of journalists and their sources was more important. The journalists’ rights to freedom of expression were protected from interference by the state. Murrer did not win. She just did not lose her liberty. But the police made her suffer. Said she:

“This is a victory, not simply for me, but for all journalists. My legal team have been absolutely superb and they have fought for all of us. It’s been a very long, horrible, nasty and vindictive case and we are all exhausted. We have done all emotions over the last 19 months, now it’s just about survival.”

Interestingly the case also featured a private detective – yep, like Glenn Mulcaire: former police officer Derek Webb, 53, from Hertfordshire, was charged with five offences of aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office. He denied them all. He too was cleared. His clients, reportedly, have included the News of the World.

Murrer’s solicitor, Louis Charalambous of Simons Muirhead and Burton, told media:

“Sally Murrer should never have been prosecuted. The safeguards enshrined in law for the protection of journalists have been trampled upon by Thames Valley Police – both at the outset and when they chose to bug Sally’s conversations under a warrant that failed to mention that she was a journalist and later when she was arrested and brought to a police station, where, following a strip search and a night in the cells, she faced a gruelling interrogation – while her home and office were searched, and all of her notebooks seized.

“Had the case against Sally gone ahead, it would have signalled a lurch towards a police state, a situation which is abhorrent in the minds of right thinking people.”

Jeremy Dear, the NUJ general secretary, added:

“This is a major victory, not just for Sally but for all journalists. This case was yet another example of members of the police force believing they were above the law, able to trample over well-established journalistic rights and freedoms. Let’s be clear, this was an attempt to make a criminal out of a journalist for receiving information that the state didn’t want to get out. It was a misguided prosecution that sought to punish Sally for simply doing her job.

“This judgment sends a clear message to the authorities: they must recognise the importance of free and open journalism. Hard questions must now be asked of the police and CPS as to why these costly proceedings were allowed to get so far.”

Thames Valley police replied:

“The leaking of sensitive information is a serious matter which can jeopardise police investigations, put officers and members of the public at risk and lead to criminal and misconduct charges. The public has a right to expect that officers and police staff who have access to sensitive information can be trusted to handle the material appropriately.”

If the Guardian had not shown the highest degrees of quality investigative journalism there would be no Operation Weeting. What act of Terror has been committed to allow an in-line operation Superintendent WoodenTop to cudgel a journalist with a bizarre interpretation of the disparate 4 and 5 sections of the Terror Act?

The Guardian’s sister organ, the Observor, Leader is worth a glance.

It concludes.
“The issues beyond this extraordinary Yard move couldn’t be starker. Journalists have a duty to defend their sources. The Human Rights Act (and Strasbourg beyond it) makes that clear. The use of the Official Secrets Act, which lacks any public interest defence, is imaginative going on ludicrous; just as its prospective use against police officers on the Weeting team is misjudged. In effect, Scotland Yard, which muffed the scandal first time round, appears bent on muffing the task one more time in a welter of hyperactive zeal.

“At least there are several more hurdles this weird initiative must yet clear before its catches fire: an Old Bailey hearing on Friday, decisions from the attorney general and Crown Prosecution Service further down the line. But even at first glance, commissioner Hogan-Howe must see the quicksands he’s stumbling into, pursuing newspaper sources where the public isn’t just interested, but incensed. Tinker Tailor Soldier and Plainly Intelligent Copper? Let us hope so, for everyone’s sake – including the Yard’s.”

Given that Hill and the Guardian never hacked a phone, the sight of the police harassing she and her innocent newspaper is revolting.

The Metropolitan Police may now be planting its size 14 flat feet on another crumbling cliff edge and UK Premier David Cameron teeters on the brink of the chasm of ridicule along with the Plods.

There could be a gentle irony in it all, an unelected Premier Cameron being dragged down by the unrepresentative Met. .. and all the while the advising Civil Servants twitch the odd lip and shuffle folders in readiness to control the new leader. Same Old, Same Old.

Meanwhile, sensitive, caring and sharing, police install CCTV in Whitehall’s office corridors in a bid to plug the leaks.



Posted: 17th, September 2011 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink