Police asked to clarify illegal media intrusion investigation

By staff writers
July 24, 2011

Thousands of democracy campaigners have co-signed a letter to Assistant Police Commissioner Cressida Dick about its hacking investigations, following the still-growing News of the World scandal.

The signers of the letter are asking for clarification of the role of Operation Weeting and Operation Tuleta, and calling for the Metropolitan Police to widen their investigation to all reported incidences of illegal media intrusion.

The open letter, which was launched by campaign groups Unlock Democracy and Take Back Parliament on Wednesday 20 July 2011, now has 3,500 signatories.

Since launching the campaign, the Met has announced that the team of police officers running Operation Weeting has been expanded and they have requested the files on Operation Motorman from the Information Commissioner. The letter asks for an explanation about what the police will now be investigating.

Peter Facey, director of Unlock Democracy, commented: “We’re pleased to hear that the Metropolitan Police are now, belatedly, paying attention to the evidence the Information Commissioner gathered over the Steve Whittamore case. However, it is not clear precisely how it intends to use this evidence."

“With the Met currently in turmoil following the resignation of John Yates and Paul Stephenson, and parliament focused on News International, we are concerned that this investigation might get forgotten about,” said Facey.

The full text of the letter to Assistant Police Commissioner Cressida Dick reads as follows:

Operation Tuleta
Metropolitan Police Service
New Scotland Yard
8-10 Broadway

Dear Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick,

I am writing to you in order to clarify your position on a number of points relating to Operation Weeting and more generally the illegal data gathering operation documented by the Information Commissioner in its 2006 report ‘What Price Privacy?’.

I understand that the remit of Operation Weeting only covers phone hacking and that whilst there is a smaller team under the name Operation Tuleta inquiring into wider issues of hacking and illegal data gathering that this is only a ‘scoping exercise’ not a full investigation.

The 2006 ICO report naming journalists names over a dozen newspapers as clients of private investigators involved in either phone hacking or other methods of illegal data gathering. The Daily Mail and Daily Mirror in particular were cited as two of the worst offenders.

Given the failure of the Metropolitan Police to follow up this report at the time with a proper police investigation I was wondering if you could clarify the following points:

* Given the evidence in the ICO report will they move Operation Tuleta from a scoping exercise to a full scale investigation?
* Will the Metropolitan Police confirm whether Operation Tuleta will look at other newspapers beyond the News of the World?
* Will the Metropolitan Police proactively seek evidence from other newspapers, private investigators and review the evidence collected by the ICO in its 2006 report?
* Will Operation Weeting and/or Operation Tuleta be requesting access to the archives of other newspapers implicated in the ICOs 2006 report in order to ensure vital evidence is not missed in the course of the current investigations?

We are concerned that the current turmoil at the Metropolitan Police risks seeing the wider issue of hacking and illegal data gathering by tabloid newspapers go unpunished.

Investigating News International and the News of the World is a start but to regain public trust, the Metropolitan Police must now properly investigate the practices of the entire industry.

Kind regards,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy
and 3, 500 others

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