At some point in 2006 Sun editor CEO Rebekah Brooks (pictured) met a senior Scotland Yard officer who told her that the Metropolitan Police suspected that there were 100 or more cases of phone hacking at News International but that they were going to confine their investigation to News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman and his tame private eye Glenn Mulcaire (both subsequently jailed). Brooks had previously edited the NoW.
A grateful Ms Brooks then high-tailed it back to the office of News International, of which she subsequently became CEO, which promptly embarked on a concerted cover-up.
That. at least, seems to most credible explanation of some of the bizarre events described in the new phase of the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics.
There were others too, including the extraordinary statement from deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers to the effect that there had been a culture of illegality at the Sun which had resulted in a number of ‘public servants,’ including police officers being on retainers worth thousands of pounds a year.
And, separately, singer Charlotte Church described the horrifying persecution she had suffered at the hands of NI tabloids of which NoW phone hacking (she won £600,000 damages and costs) was only a part.
The key to the phone hacking investigation (and the likelihood of criminal charges) surely rests on the meeting between Brooks and the Scotland Yard ‘mole.’ Was he, or she, authorised by the top brass at the Yard? Was he, or she, a member of it?
At the very least this shows that the Yard was complicit in the cover-up and that Brooks has told the investigating authorities rather less than she knew. She can expect a Leveson summons very soon.
And the nice warm feeling felt by Rupert Murdoch, his executives and journalists yesterday at the successful launch of the Sunday version of the Sun, a replacement for the defunct News of the World, has turned decidedly chilly and threatening.