The Sally Murrer leak inquiry took an extraordinary twist this week as it emerged that her co-defendant is the policeman at the centre of the Sadiq Khan bugging row.
Milton Keynes Citizen reporter Murrer says she has been through hell since she was first arrested last May and charged with ‘aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office”.
She was bugged by police, tracked and locked up twice – the first time for 30 hours – as they mounted an inquiry against her.
Thames Valley Police claims that she illegally procured stories from police officer Mark Kearney – who was also charged. This week Kearney revealed that he was ordered to bug Khan on two visits to Woodhill prison in 2005 and 2006, despite raising objections.
Murrer now believes that fear on the part of the police that her friend Kearney was going to blow the whistle on the bugging of Khan may explain the investigation into them both.
She told Press Gazette: ‘I think this is the missing part of the jigsaw that I’ve been searching for for eight months now. During the whole investigation I have wondered what it is I was supposed to have done.”
The police allege that Kearney illegally gave Murrer details of various stories. She says the stories they have referred to have all involved relatively ordinary crimes, the details of which she says she knew about from other sources anyway.
Now she believes the current charges she faces – and for which she is due to stand trial next year – may stem from the revelations that Kearney was involved in the bugging of Khan.
She said: ‘I clearly remember him saying in May 2005 and June 2006, ‘they made me do something illegal’ and I kept asking him what it was.
‘He said it was something to do with the
bugging of an MP. When it came up again he said he was losing sleep about this, and said something about the Wilson Law.
‘He now says that towards the end of 2006 everything was getting too much and the one thing that was stressing him out was this.”
She believes that it would have been obvious to colleagues at Thames Valley Police that Kearney was becoming increasingly agitated about the bugging episode – and that there was a risk he would blow the whistle.
Murrer said it was around this time that the investigation into her and Kearney – code-named Operation Plaid – began.
She said: ‘It dawned on me yesterday that this may be the missing piece of the jigsaw. They tried to discredit the whistleblower and the journalist they thought he was going to blow the whistle to and destroy the story that way.
‘It seems like a huge hammer to smash a very small nut and I think this could be one of the biggest cover-ups this country has ever seen. They were trying to ruin him, destroying me in the process.
‘The way I was treated it felt like they wanted to crack me and stop me writing anything ever again – they nearly did, I was a gibbering wreck for a while.”
Murrer is due to appear at court again next week for a plea and directions hearing and believes her full trial may still be a year away.
She said: ‘I’m hoping that somebody somewhere will look at this and ask whether it was a fair, balanced and thorough investigation or a smoke screen.
‘I’ve been put through this hell for allegedly taking stories from a policeman – but I knew about this in May 2005 and this is the first the country knows about it. I didn’t even ask him the name of the MP when he told me about the bugging because you don’t do that to friends – you don’t put them on the spot.”