Important piece from Bellingcat about Operation Silverhawk – the inquiry into Mazher Mahmood‘s alleged role in the Tulisa trial. It has more than uncanny echoes to the original limited phone hacking investigation in 2010.
Metropolitan police’s Operation Silverhawk, an investigation into Sunday on Sunday’s Fake Sheikh Mazher Mahmood is being led by Commander Martin Hewitt – who was one of the senior investigators in Operation Varec which was part of John Yates discredited investigation into phone hacking at Mahmood’s News of the World in 2010. Minutes from ‘Gold’ Group meeting which was chaired by Yates shows Commander Hewitt present as one the more senior investigators in the team at a meeting in September that year.
Operation Varec was criticised for interviewing whistleblower ex-News of the World showbiz reporter Sean Hoare under caution – effectively meaning that his statements could be used against him for prosecution. Hoare a former friend of Andy Coulson had given an interview to The New York Times weeks earlier claiming Coulson had “actively encouraged” him to hack phones but was left with no choice but to give No Comment answers in his police interview. This was at the time Andy Coulson was Director of Communications for the government at 10 Downing Street.