Met 'grades journalists by favourable coverage'

The Sun’s crime correspondent Mike Sullivan claims the Metropolitan Police grades journalists on how favourable their coverage is.

Sullivan told the Leveson Inquiry the force has analysts who scan newspapers looking for potential leaks, adding: ‘Such is the extent of media monitoring in the Met, that I believe that they even have charts on individual reporters with a system of marking to show if they are regarded as being favourable or not towards the Met.’

‘I was told that that system existed and I quite believe it,’he told Lord Justice Leveson.

Sullivan said he was unable to explain exactly how the system works but said he was told about its existence by someone with direct knowledge of the ‘grading system”.

The counsel to the Metropolitan police, Neil Garnham QC, denied the force graded journalists according to favourable coverage, but Sullivan insisted: ‘I was reliably informed three to four, perhaps five, years ago that there was such a system.”

In his written statement Sullivan, who was arrrested on suspicion of making illegal payment to police in January, was asked whether the Met’s head of public affairs ‘seek to act as gatekeepers controlling access by the media to other police personnel”.

In his response he said: ‘Very much so. One of the duties of the head of the DPA is to scrutinise all media stories and look for examples where a journalist may have more information in an article or broadcast than the given ‘party line.’

‘If they have any concerns, the Directorate of Professional Standards is notified and this can lead to leak inquiries being instituted.

‘I am led to understand that analysts are also used to scan stories looking for potential leaks. Such is the extent of media monitoring in the Met, that I believe that they even have charts on individual reporters with a system of marking to show if they are regarded as being favourable or not towards the Met.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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