Phone Hacking at the Mirror in 1998: Read Paddy French’s Scoop and Pre-buy his Piers Morgan Biography

Over at Byline, veteran investigative reporter Paddy French has an exclusive which concludes the Mirror Group, and by implication Piers Morgan, knew about phone hacking well before it became standard practice by Glenn Mulcaire at News of the World.  Below is just an excerpt from the full damning in depth piece.

But this is just a taster. Paddy is pitching on Byline a full unauthorised biography of Piers Morgan:

Morgan is one of the most important members of the cast of the phone hacking scandal. He was the first of a long line of Murdoch editors forged in the crucible of the Sun’s show business column “Bizarre”. One of his proteges was Andy Coulson.

Morgan was singled out by Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie as a future editor and it was his patronage that led to his appointment as News of the World editor at the age of 29. There Morgan singled out a young reporter and promoted her to Features Editor: her name was Rebekah Brooks. Morgan was destined to edit the Sun but when Daily Mirror boss David Montgomery — a former News of the World editor — offered him the editorship of the Mirror, Morgan accepted.

By 2003, the troika of Morgan (Mirror), Coulson (News of the World) and Brooks (The Sun) had an iron grip on Britain’s tabloids. Morgan was at the Mirror for nearly ten years — a decade that saw the paper embrace the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering.

The plan is to produce a readable, balanced picture of a talented but flawed individual.

I’m a retired television producer so I don’t need to be paid for my time.

But researching, writing and publishing a book as ambitious as this one does not come cheap, especially since it needs to be read for libel.

I hope you will support the venture.

For a taster of the article, more below

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Mazher Mahmood told Met Investigation back in 2005 his informants included “senior officers” and “bent police officers”

A small but telling detail about the proximity of News of the World’s star reporter Mazher Mahmood to the Metropolitan Police.

Over on Bellingcat, Joe Public has noticed that senior Met Officers never even asked about the provenance of the gun used in the Beckham Kidnap fiasco – which saw five people jailed on remand for months. A complaint about this led to Operation Canopus – into the Fake Sheik‘s activities 

 Then, on October 17th 2005 the Guardian ran a Roy Greenslade piece under the headline; “Police probe News of the World stories” – it was a report into the existence of Operation Canopus Two. For the first time a police investigation into Mahmood was out in the open.

But this investigation into Mahmood in 2005 apparently exonerated him, even though he told them:

“I’ve got bent police officers that are witnesses, that are informants.”

via bellingcat – Did Scotland Yard Cover-Up Beckham Kidnap Evidence So The Fake Sheikh Could Be Their Star Witness?.

Earlier during that interview on  26 October 2005 Mazher Mahmood also told investigators from Operation Canopus.

“I’ve got some senior officers in Britain who are also my informants”

This is a full SIX YEARS before the police launch Operation Elveden, into corrupt payments paid to police by News International journalists. Why the delay? And how can we trust the Fake Sheikh’s activities can be fully and appropriately investigated by the same police force he worked so closely with?

In his own words, some were bent. And he was also in contact with senior officers – probably way above the pay grade of those investigating him.

In his autobiography Mahmood boasts of meeting the former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens for drinks, with his then boss Andy Coulson. As the Press Gang notes this was in 2003.

It was shortly after the Crown Prosecution Service decision to abandon charges in the Beckham kidnap affair because one of Mahmood’s informants was considered an unreliable witness …

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What you Won’t Read in the Papers: James Doleman’s Smart Summation of three Sun trials so Far.

After reporting from the Old Bailey for over 15 months now, covering various hacking and misconduct trials, James Doleman provides an insight which you might not see in mainstream media coverage

If you only read Britain’s best selling tabloid newspaper you would think that the last 6 months of Sun journalists appearing in the criminal courts have led to a total vindication for the paper and its version of journalistic ethics.

It is true that since August 2014 three separate  trials at London’s Old Bailey have found Sun reporters not guilty on various charges. Each acquittal was greeted with banner headlines in the paper proclaiming that the ordinary people on the jury had chosen to defend free speech against the police and the courts unjustly trying to silence the press. Yet a closer look at how each reporter defended themselves in court suggests there may have been other reasons for those jurys making their decisions.

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Mr Justice Saunders’ Sentencing remarks on Ian Edmondson

It’s been a busy week in events connected to the hacking trial. As previous posts here have tried to explain there has been new evidence about Rebekah Brooks’ authorisation of cash payments from the trial of six Sun journalists at Kingston Crown Court; and two ongoing trials at the Old Bailey. The jury returned a guilty verdict for one News of the World journalist for ‘conspiracy to commit misconduct in public officer’ for paying a prison officer for stories about Jon Venables. This journalist cannot be named for legal reasons.

Meanwhile, the famous News of the World ‘fake sheikh’, Mazher Mahmood, lost a high court battle to prevent his image being broadcast in a BBC 1 Panorama documentary about his activity  this coming Monday at 8.30 pm  – various blog posts, here, here and here about Mr Mr Mahmood. And then today we had the sentencing of the fourth news desk editor Ian Edmondson for Phone hacking at the main hacking trial. Mr Justice Saunders remarks are reprinted below in full

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4 DAYS LEFT: You Crowdfunded my Court Reporting: now be part of the Hacking Trial Book

Pre-order and get your name on the book

Pre-order the Book: Get eternal life.

Once more thanks so much for supporting my live tweeting the phone hacking trial. I live tweeted nearly 500,000 words in 2.5 million keystrokes from the Old Bailey thanks to you. The trial finally concluded last week with the sentencing of Dan Evans – and the announcement of a likely Phone Hacking Trial Two with the charging of former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, and features editor Jules Stenson

But nothing will ever again match the size, length and cost of the 8 month trial of Regina v Brooks and Others. For those of you who may have missed it, I’ve written a long form profile of Brooks for the New Statesman

More importantly, I’ve just finished Beyond Contempt:The Inside Story of the Phone Hacking Trial – which reveals all the legal argument, media campaigns and police activities that we’re going on in the background – as well as my own adventures and misadventures. Continue reading

Hacking Trial Live Tweets – 1 July

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Summary
Mitigation Pleas Continue
Timothy Langdale QC pleads Mitigation for Andy Coulson
Witness for Andy Coulson – Matthew D’Ancona (Spectator Journalist)
The Prosecution reply to Coulson’s Mitigation
Application for Costs
News UK apply for costs
Comments from Peter Jukes
Peter Jukes reflects on Live Tweeting

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