Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Cops and Newsmen

Chester Stern, the former head of the press bureau at Scotland Yard, has an interesting piece in The Guardian today recounting his perspective on how the relationship between the press and the police has changed. Stern says it started with reforms intended at tackling police corruption, but it hasn't always worked out that well.

The Andy Coulson affair has not just revealed some of the illegal tactics that sections of the gutter press have been willing to stoop to, it's also provided an insight into the the relationship between the press and the Metropolitan Police. Let's look at a specific example;

Many people believe that the police were reluctant to take the investigation seriously, a claim they strenuously deny. Andy Hayman (CBE, QPM), who was the police officer in charge of the hacking investigation, has defended the operation which has left so many dissatisfied that News International was not properly held to account before the law.

In definitely unrelated news, when Andy Hayman left the Met he got a lucrative job with News International. It's nice to know that retirement does not always mean inactivity but can lead to media stardom.

Suggestions of corruption would probably be entirely unfounded, particularly when you have possible incompetence staring you in the face. Like the time he was criticised by the IPCC when "he misled senior officers by failing to tell them that the Brazilian electrician was not a wanted suicide bomber."

A better example would be the time under pressure "Hayman apologised to two brothers who were freed without charge after an anti-terror raid at Forest Gate, east London." A raid in which one brother was shot despite being both unarmed and, well, innocent of any crime.

He was also in charge of the sickening witch-hunt against Ali Dizaei which, among other things, involved the police indulging in potentially illegal phone tapping. But to be fair to him that was a meticulously planned and thorough investigation that used loads and loads of resources - so you couldn't accuse the attempt to destroy a fellow police officer as incompetent.

I'm glad he managed to find work after all of that. In short, everything is fine. No police officers are corrupt. No media corporations are breaking the law and no politicians are complicit in the whole stinking mess. Hold on, I'm getting a call from my non-existence legal department.

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