THE Leveson inquiry is back after a two-week break. A lot has happened while it was away. A number of Sun journalists were arrested in dawn raids. A new newspaper has been born. And there has been a spirited fightback by assorted fellow travellers and friends of Rupert Murdoch – including, remarkably, a cabinet minister – to disparage the police and/or the Leveson inquiry itself. The police’s behaviour was variously likened to Nazi Germany or the East German Stasi. Sun journalists, we were told, may have bought the odd copper a drink – but all in the public interest. And the education secretary, Michael Gove, suggested that, as a cure for the press’s wrongs, Leveson might be “worse than the original disease”.
A very different picture emerged on Monday as the inquiry moved into its second phase – looking at the relationship between the press and the police. The officer in charge of the current police investigations, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, gave compelling evidence about a culture of illegal payments at the Sun involving a network of corrupted officials.
The vast majority of the information had no public interest but was “salacious gossip”. Senior executives at the Sun knew about the payments, and the newspaper employed “tradecraft” to hide them.
There was also disturbing evidence from the former deputy prime minister, Lord Prescott, about the extraordinary lengths to which the police went in order to conceal from him and the public the suspicion that his phone had been hacked.
It was revealed that the hacker-in-chief, Glenn Mulcaire, was questioned about targeting Prescott as early as 2006.
(The Hindu / The Guardian)