The Metropolitan Police is reportedly “sitting on dozens of unopened bin-bags of material” gathered by officers investigating Trinity Mirror national newspapers.
According to The Times, the “sacks” have been gathered by officers from Operation Golding – which is investigating phone-hacking across the Mirror titles. Operation Elveden officers are also investigating allegations of payments to public officials at the newspaper group.
A phone-hacking compensation hearing at the High Court earlier this month was told that phone-hacking was “rife” across the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People by David Sherborne, the barrister representing eight claimants. Matthew Nicklin QC, for Trinity Mirror, denied this claim.
The Times today reports that with the Met Police facing cuts of £500m over the next five years, senior officers are “considering limiting the extent of their inquiry into Mirror titles”.
The newspaper also cited the “poor success rate” of the various Met Police investigations into journalists. At least 64 journalists have been arrested under operations Weeting (into phone-hacking), which includes Golding, Elveden (into corrupt payments) and Tuleta (computer-hacking), which together cost £33.5m up to September 2014.
A Freedom of Information request by Press Gazette revealed that, to September last year, Weeting had cost £19.2m, Elveden £11.3m and Tuleta £3m.
So far, ten journalists have been convicted of offences, with seven pleading guilty and three being found guilty after trial. In all, the trials of 21 journalists have been completed. Four have been found guilty – though one of these verdicts was overturned last week – and 12 have been cleared of wrongdoing. The remainder face retrials after juries failed to agree a verdict.
On the Mirror evidence, The Times reports a source as saying: “If the Met doesn’t examine all this material, it could be accused of burying the evidence — the same allegation that was made about the original News of the World [The Times’s former sister title] inquiry ten years ago. But if they press ahead it will cost millions and the prospects of success seem pretty remote.”
Press Gazette is awaiting comment from the Met.