Investigative website Exaro News has released an unredacted report from the Serious Organised Crime Agency that identifies blue-chip companies British Gas and British Telecom as having been tricked into revealing confidential information.
Private investigators also “blagged” sensitive income and tax details from HM Revenue & Customs, according to Exaro.
The revelations came about as a result of a number of police operations, including Operation Carytid, the Metropolitan Police’s first investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World, which led to the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
The police reluctance to prosecute corporate hackers has been contrasted with the arrest of 59 journalists over the last two years on suspicion of committing information crimes.
The original 2008 SOCA report led to Operation Millipede, which Exaro claims became Operation Tuleta, which probed computer hacking at News International, now News UK.Labour MP Tom Watson, who has been a vocal critic of News International’s use of “blagging” techniques and phone hacking, has warned media organisations against a crusade to unveil wrongdoing in other industries.
“Be careful what you wish for,” Watson told Exaro. “The PR around this is developing into a crude game of relativism with industry leaders in major media organisations trying to say ‘Everyone is as bad as us.’”