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UK phone hacking scandal will haunt Met/Unfair taxes

Phone hacking: Met had the evidence. How will it explain five years of failure?

Police patrol in front of the headquarter of News InternationalBy Nick Davies, from The Guardian

Claims by senior officers that Operation Caryatid left ‘no stone unturned’ look set to haunt police force in light of last week’s trial

It is not only David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch who are caught in the sticky web of the phone-hacking scandal. Scotland Yard too remains Andy-Hayman-in-front-of-t-007tangled in troubling questions revived by evidence disclosed in the Old Bailey trial that ended last week.

The questions remain unanswered because while the Yard’s leadership has run a sprawling inquiry into allegations of crime by journalists and public officials, it has opted not to commission any kind of Clive Goodmaninvestigation into what went wrong under its own roof.

All the questions revolve around Scotland Yard’s five years of failure to deal with allegations of crime in Murdoch’s newsrooms before a new inquiry, Operation Weeting, finally took on the job. The scale of the Yard’s failure to investigate or to Deputy-Metropolitan-Polic-007disclose what was known was writ large in the evidence Weeting supplied to the Old Bailey trial.

While the original inquiry named only eight victims of Glenn Mulcaire’s phone hacking, Weeting found Mulcaire’s own handwritten notes suggested he had targeted 6,349 people either to intercept their Glenn-Mulcaire-007voicemail or to “blag” their confidential data. The original inquiry led to just two arrests. Weeting and its offshoots have arrested or interviewed under caution some 210 people.

The central question is whether that failure was in any way connected to the Yard’s links with Murdoch’s UK Guardian front page of 9 July 2009company, then known as News International; or to any personal links between Yard officers and Murdoch employees. Fragments of new evidence from the trial and from Guardian inquiries raise more questions. They fall into two timeframes.

The first covers the period from January 2006 to January 2007 when the Yard ran Operation Caryatid, the original inquiry into a complaint from Buckingham Palace that somebody was listening to the voicemail messages of the royal household. On 8 August 2006, Caryatid arrested the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, and the paper’s specialist phone-hacker, Glenn Mulcaire.

At the Old Bailey trial, Goodman told the jury that within 48 hours of his arrest, he saw the start of a campaign to persuade him to say he was a “lone wolf” who had hacked the royal phones without the knowledge of anybody else at the paper and that nobody else from the paper was involved in any other hacking. This “lone wolf” theory was a lie, as the trial exposed in painful detail. It would also have been apointless lie in the event of any risk that Scotland Yard would arrest other journalists. No other journalists were arrested by Caryatid.

During the trial, Goodman claimed that, following his arrest, Andy Coulson on several occasions suggested that he was directly or indirectly in contact with a source who knew what the police were doing and who was suggesting that they did not want to “go any deeper than me and nobody wanted it to end up in a jail sentence.” Coulson denied saying this. Even if he did, it is possible that he was misleading Goodman in an attempt to persuade him to plead guilty. The question is whether there really was a source who enabled Coulson to know what the police were planning.

Six weeks later, on 15 September, a News International lawyer emailed Coulson with a summary of information he said had been provided to Rebekah Brooks by “the cops”. The email – disclosed in unredacted form at the trial – included an apparently accurate account of some of the evidence collected by Caryatid and the suggestion “they are not widening the case to include other NoW people but would do so if they got direct evidence”. The email said that so far the only evidence found against journalists other than Goodman was circumstantial.

The trial heard that this message was written as a result of a meeting at the RAC Club in London between Brooks and a Caryatid officer, DCI Keith Surtees, who had been tasked to tell her that her phone had been hacked by Mulcaire and to invite her to make a statement for the prosecution. Brooks declined to do so. The question here is whether Surtees was instructed not simply to ask for her cooperation but also to give her a briefing about Caryatid’s progress and intentions. The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigated and found that Surtees had done nothing wrong. Scotland Yard declined to answer Guardian questions about it.

At around this time, according to evidence at the Leveson inquiry, the Yard decided to close down Caryatid. The precise timing and justification for this decision are not known: it was not recorded in writing.

The effect of this was that there was no further inquiry into evidence gathered by Caryatid that appeared to implicate other NoW journalists; a breach of the Yard’s undertaking to the Crown Prosecution Service that officers would ensure “all potential victims” were informed; and a failure to follow evidence which suggested the NoW may have been involved in making corrupt payments to police officers including some involved in the security of the royal family and of the Witness Protection Programme.

In November 2006, Goodman and Mulcaire pleaded guilty without implicating anybody else at the newspaper.

After examining this history in detail, Lord Justice Leveson concluded that the Caryatid team had made mistakes in handling victims of the hacking and had failed to follow leads to other perpetrators but had acted in good faith, primarily because officers had to deal with far more serious crime involving terrorist plots to commit mass murder. That conclusion is clearly well-founded. Specifically, there is no evidence that any Caryatid officer showed any fear or favour towards News International.

However, the objective fact is that Scotland Yard’s conduct enabled News International’s coverup to succeed. Here, there are two key questions. Why was the hacking inquiry not passed to another squad to be completed? And was that decision in any way influenced by a desire to placate Murdoch’s company?

Scotland Yard has opted not to try to answer any of these questions.

The second timeframe runs from 9 July 2009, when the Guardian published its first story about the true scale of the hacking, to July 2011, when it disclosed that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. During that time, Scotland Yard presented press, public and parliament with a version of events that has proved to be false.

This included repeated denials that the Yard held any evidence that Mulcaire had targeted the then deputy prime minister, John Prescott; repeated claims that detectives had approached all potential victims of Mulcaire’s hacking; and claims they had pursued all available leads. All of these statements proved to be false.

The Yard also failed to disclose that Caryatid had been closed down without completing the original investigation; and that News International had obstructed officers’ work.

The Old Bailey trial disclosed a new fragment of evidence that remains unexplained and unexplored. This involved the celebrity PR Max Clifford, who was one of the eight hacking victims and was named at the sentencing of Goodman and Mulcaire in January 2007. Soon after the Guardian’s first story, in July 2009, Clifford sued the NoW on the basis that somebody at the paper must have conspired with Mulcaire to intercept his voicemail.

On 14 September 2009, a deputy master in the high court ordered Scotland Yard to disclose relevant evidence, including the notes Mulcaire had made as he targeted Clifford. The Yard said it would do so by 23 November.

On 5 November, the assistant commissioner who had inherited responsibility for the hacking case, John Yates, dined at the Ivy with the then editor of the News of the World, Colin Myler. It’s unclear exactly what was discussed at that dinner, but the Yard missed the deadline for disclosing Mulcaire’s notes and, when they finally did so, on 7 December, the name of the NoW journalist who had tasked Mulcaire to hack Clifford had been blacked out, as had much of the rest of the notes.

The fragment of evidence disclosed at the Old Bailey trial concerned a meeting held at the NoW’s east London office on 20 January 2010 to discuss the Clifford case. The jury were shown a record of the meeting. This noted that when the police disclosed their evidence on Clifford, “there was nothing there”. The record then continued with a remark attributed to Myler: “CM said that Andy Hayman and John Yates had indicated to him previously that this was probably going to be the case.”

Contacted by the Guardian recently, Myler declined to comment.

The first question here is whether that record is accurate. It may not be. Andy Hayman was the assistant commissioner during the first timeframe. He was responsible for Operation Caryatid although he had no day-to-day role in its conduct. But he had left Scotland Yard in December 2007. An investigation might establish whether Hayman had any means of discovering how the Yard was planning to respond to the order to disclose Mulcaire’s notes about Clifford. Beyond the question of its accuracy, the record of that meeting raises questions. Why did Scotland Yard choose to redact Mulcaire’s notes so heavily? The high court ordered a less redacted version, although the case was then aborted when Clifford accepted an offer from News International of guaranteed income of £600,000 plus his legal costs.

Did Hayman, Yates or anybody else at the Yard provided information about their handling of the case to Myler? Hayman and Yates declined to comment but Yates’s friends say he would not have had access to the detail of the case and would not have disclosed anything improper.

As the Leveson inquiry heard, both Hayman and Yates were in the habit of sharing drinks and meals with journalists, including some from the News of the World. Coulson himself previously has said he was on “not unfriendly terms” with Hayman. Yates counted another senior journalist from the paper as a personal friend. The evidence of the social contact was disclosed at the Leveson inquiry. Leveson found that it had had no impact on decisions which they made and that, although the two men had made mistakes, they had acted with integrity. Both Hayman and Yates have also been criticised for public comments which they made about the extent of the hacking at the News of the World. This began as a reaction to the Guardian’s first story, on Thursday 9 July, when Yates held a press conference outside Scotland Yard. He said he had been asked “to establish the facts” and went on to read a statement that challenged the core of the Guardian account and has since proved misleading. He said no further investigation was required. Two years later, when the scandal reached its climax, Yates apologised for his approach, saying he should have done more and that his decision not to reopen the investigation was “pretty crap”.

In the background, after resigning from Scotland Yard, Hayman had gone to work for News International as a columnist for the Times, which bought the serial rights to his memoirs. Two days after Yates’s statement, on 11 July, he published a Times column in which he said that Caryatid “had left no stone unturned”. He did not say that the investigation had been closed down without completing the job.

He went on to say that Caryatid would have pursued “the slightest hint that others were involved”. The Old Bailey trial disclosed that Caryatid had done the opposite, for example opting not to pursue evidence of the possible involvement of journalists Greg Miskiw and Neville Thurlbeck, who have since pleaded guilty to conspiring to intercept voicemail. Hayman told the Leveson inquiry that he had written his column from memory without having access to any of the original paperwork.

The following week, on 15 July, Hayman went to a leaving party for a senior NoW journalist from the News of the World, at the Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue in London. One guest has told the Guardian Hayman approached Tim Toulmin, then director of the Press Complaints Commission, who was standing by the bar, and said words to the effect that: “I can’t believe this Guardian thing. Such a lot of fuss about it. I have seen the file. There is nothing in there, just a handful of names.”

In November, a PCC report accepted Goodman and Mulcaire were the only culprits and added that “the Guardian’s stories did not quite live up to the dramatic billing they were initially given”.

Over the two-year timeframe, Yates repeated his misleading version of events to two Commons select committees and visited the Guardian to complain to the editor, Alan Rusbridger, about the paper’s coverage. Later, he threatened to sue the Guardian for publishing claims that he had misled parliament. Yates and Hayman specifically denied that Prescott had been a victim even though Caryatid in August 2006 had found evidence Mulcaire had been intercepting his voicemail from the phone of his special adviser, Joan Hammell.

The home affairs select committee criticised Hayman for his “cavalier attitude” towards his social contact with News International staff being investigated by his detectives and suggested this had “risked seriously undermining confidence in the impartiality of the police”. They also accused him of “deliberate prevarication in order to mislead the committee”.

Leveson found that Yates had adopted an “inappropriately dismissive and close-minded attitude” to the scandal and had been dogmatic and defensive in his comments.

Neither the select committee nor Leveson concluded Hayman, Yates or anybody else at Scotland Yard had let their judgment be influenced by contact with or fear of News International. Leveson concluded that although there had been “a series of poor decisions, poorly executed”, there was no evidence to challenge the integrity of the senior police officers concerned.

On the specific questions raised by the new information from the Old Bailey trial, there is no evidence at all – no phone records, no diaries, no internal memos, no expenses records, no interviews with the key players – because Scotland Yard has failed to commission the inquiry which might have found it. The questions hang there, looking for an answer.


Police officers patrol outside News International’s offices in London on the day the last News of the World edition was printed in 2011. Photograph: Kerim Okten/EPA

Private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for phone hacking. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

Clive Goodman, the former royal editor of the News of the World, arrives at the Old Bailey in March 2014. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters

The Guardian front page of 9 July 2009. Photograph: Guardian

The then acting deputy Metropolitan police commissioner, John Yates. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Andy Hayman appears before Commons home affairs committee in 2011. Photograph: Pa

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EDITOR: Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Yates was the man former Chief Investigator Martin Bridger of the Cayman Islands debacle Operation Tempura reported to.


Barbadians must speak out against unfair taxes

Person suffer weight of unfair heavy tax burdenBy Wayne Cadogan From Caribbean360

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday July 3, 2014 – The recently implemented Municipal Solid Waste Tax will be a burden on most Barbadians since it will largely affect a part of the population; the middle class.

It is true that when a government needs additional money to effectively run a country they tend to increase taxes, but this would be done across the board so that everybody would be taxed and not just a few. We all know that Barbados is not a manufacturing society and depends heavily on fragile tourism and sugar industries to earn foreign exchange.

Since all countries implement new taxes from time to time, society expects that at some time their taxes will increase, but it is the manner in which it is done. In most countries, the government would go to the public with a referendum or sensitize them regarding their intended plans to raise money through increasing or implementing a new tax. In Barbados’ case, the current government did neither of the two. The strategy used by the government is one of a dictatorial or strong arm method of imposing this new tax, which would have created a negative backlash if it was introduced in most other countries.

In some countries the public would be openly voicing their opinion through picketing, petitions to the government or marching to show their disapproval, especially regarding the manner in which it was done. What has happened to democracy in Barbados in recent years? Barbadians need to stand up for their rights and stop grumbling for nine days and sweeping things under the carpet and speak out, demonstrate, picket, bombard the press and boycott when their rights are being infringed on.

If the government had come to the people and stated beforehand that they have to raise the taxes or implement a new tax, the public outcry or backlash would not be as great, since the majority of the public understands that from time to time that government would have to increase or raise new taxes. In this case, this tax is an unfair tax since Barbados does not have a Waste Treatment Plant and the general public already pays taxes for the collection of their garbage. Also, every occupied house has a well, a grease trap and in some cases a septic tank on its property which from time to time the occupant has to pay an independent contractor to draw off when it becomes over filled. I could understand if this tax was implemented for those on the South Coast directly connected to the sewerage system.

Since Barbados does not have a Solid waste plant in place and this was discussed and implemented in Parliament two years ago, why is it that the government is suddenly dropping this tax on the people? The government had plenty of time to sensitize the public regarding their plans to introduce this tax. Is it because the economy is so bad and that they are doing it as part of the reconstruction of the economy and to raise finances to help pay for its multitude of foreign debts that are either overdue or about to become due?

As this tax does not affect the entire society, I would like to know who is paying the taxes for those tenants who are living in government housing free of cost as well as the upscale government houses who use just as much or more garbage than the average household. What the government should have done was to introduce an across the board 0.1 % tax on every working individual salary so that everybody would be paying the tax. This would not have been too burdensome on the taxpayer and in cases where there are multiple workers in a household it means they would be paying more and it would balance back out evenly. If a person had to pay on a site value of $200.000.00 a 0.1 % tax, they would only have to pay $200.00 for the year by the number of people working in that household.

If it isn’t already, Barbados will become one of the most expensive places in the world to live because of its tax structure, which in turn will be a deterrent for returning nationals or others who might want to consider living here.

The Barbados government cannot continue to raise taxes as a quick fix every time they need to raise money to bail out the country for one reason or another. The government needs to find new ways of raising funds and one of the main ways especially if it wants to save a fragile tourism industry from going under is to have two or three casinos, which should have been done years ago. The government has to bite the bullet and seriously consider the casino option, since a small selected few already control a plethora of one-arm bandits from which the government receives no direct benefits other than from license fees. There are lots of other ways that the government can create jobs and in many cases save a lot of wasteful expenditure, however I will leave that to the technocrats and experts to figure out since they are the ones being paid huge salaries and fees to run the country ‘effectively’.

Wayne-R-Pilgrim-Cadogan-150The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Wayne Cadogan. Wayne Cadogan is a social writer on issues that affect the masses, a retired Civil Servant and former national athlete.

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