Former Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick has accused the Met Police of promoting a media culture where ‘corruption can flourish”.
In a witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry, Paddick claimed the Met knew the extent of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal six years ago but did nothing about contacting the hundreds of victims. And he painted a picture of a Met Police culture where negative stories had been covered up, the public misled and senior officers sought to ‘befriend’the press with negative consequences.
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He has also revealed for the first time that Met officers may have leaked some of the most sensitive information the force has to News of the World private investigator Glenn Mulcaire – details of those in witness protection.
Paddick detailed how he was the subject of a ‘whole series of damaging newspaper articles between 2002 and 2007 when I left the police”.
He said: ‘These were largely false, sometimes involving gross intrusions into my private life, mainly personal but also attacking my professional reputation as a police officer. They show the power of the press to damage those they take againstâ€¦”
According to Paddick, the Met has tried to prevent stories from getting into the public domain solely to ‘protect the reputation of the MPS”.
He said: ‘Not only do the MPS rely on their ‘friends’ in the media to help keep the stories from becoming public but also, when serious malpractice is discovered, there is a danger that it is not effectively dealt withâ€¦
‘Whether it is receiving excessive hospitality or creating a practice of cover up rather than own up, a culture is created where corruption can flourish.”
Paddick detailed how he was asked by former Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to review rape investigation by the MPS – and how he was told to ‘tone down the criticisms and water down the recommendations’because ‘senior officers were concerned about the impact the report would have on the MPS’ reputation”.
He said that he when he asked the press officer detailed to handle the report what head of press Dick Fredorcio has asked her to do with it, he said: ‘She told me her job was to ensure it received no coverage at all… As a result the service the MPS provided to rape victims was sacrificed in favour of the MPS’ reputation.”
Original hacking investigation ‘overshadowed by the closeness of relationships’
Paddick went on to detail the Met’s failures in the original investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World in 2006, which led to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire going to jail.
He said: ‘In my view the original police investigation into voicemail interception in 2006 may have been overshadowed by the closeness of relationships between the Met and the press, which then compromised the integrity and independence of the investigation.”
Paddick detailed how, in April 2006, a Met Police case review concluded that the ability to intercept voicemail messages was ‘highly unlikely to be limited to Goodman alone and is probably quite widespread among those who would be interested in such access – a much wider security issue within the UK and potentially worldwide”.
However, it added that the SO13 counter-terrorism unit handling the inquiry did not have the resources to pursue this.
According to Paddick, within six days of the arrests of Goodman and Mulcaire, on 14 August 2006, 418 potential hacking victims had been identified.
He added: ‘The Disclosure Documents show that a decision was taken in the summer of 2006 that it would be appropriate to warn all these victims that they had been targeted by Mulcaireâ€¦However, only a tiny fraction of those people were actually told. Not only were the rest of the victims – about 800 people at least – kept in the dark, but many were actively misled by the police statements in 2009.”
Paddick said if the hacking scandal had been tackled by the police back in 2006 ‘evidence would have been available which has now been lost, such as data from phone companiesâ€¦However, that did not happen and at the time the public were left with an impression that this was a small scale operation involving two rogues.”
Paddick has also revealed, for the first time, that individuals on the Met Police witness protection programme had appeared on Glenn Mulcaire’s computer.
He said: ‘I have no explanation for how this information could have ended on Glenn Mulcaire’s computer other than that the information was leaked from inside the police. That is something I would expect MPS to take with the utmost seriousness. However, there is nothing in the documents disclosed to suggest that anything had been done and it has certainly never before been made public.”