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« RC | Main | +++Has the Climategate hacker just spoken?+++ »


The news that David Leigh had admitted to involvement in phone hacking left the Guardian's reputation looking a little less white than they might have hoped. Today the colour is more black than grey, as Guido reports:

... today a 51 year old police officer, working on the phone-hacking inquiry named Operation Weeting, was arrested and suspended for leaking to the Guardian.  Given that David Leigh has already confessed to phone-hacking, the Guardian’s squeaky clean reputation is collapsing at a rapid speed. Was this blatant police corruption of integrity sanctioned?

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Reader Comments (56)

I like it.

Where does the BBC get its scoops? The beeb always introduces it's scoops with "the BBC understands", without saying on what the undestanding is based.

Aug 19, 2011 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

well, Peston was obviously getting briefed by Brown and Balls during the meldown in 2008

Aug 19, 2011 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

The time is now right for the government to stop the Guardian's monopoly of public sector job adverts and let it go the way of The News Of The World.

Aug 19, 2011 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDabble

I forgot the other beeb favourite "the BBC has learned". I agree with Dabble, why does this Gov't allow the Guardian to have a monopoly of ads?

Aug 19, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The Guardian's reaction:-

"We note the arrest of a Scotland Yard detective on suspicion of misconduct in a public office relating to unauthorised disclosure of information.

"On the broader point raised by the arrest, journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity. In common with all news organisations we have no comment to make on the sources of our journalism."

"if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters"

So as thought, the Guardian has no moral structure, work ethic or comprehension of the rule of law, that statement says they have the right to publish anything that was given to them in confidence, no matter what the consequences are to the "source" or whether the source was legal. Also that they will not actually follow with some investigatory journalism to check the details, they will just print and insinuate.

Having said that about the Guardian, it is a view that I hold for all of our so called 4th Estate. Whatever happened to editors who had journalistic principles?

Aug 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand


I've been pestering the government about this pre-election promise. They have no intention, it seems, of keeping it. Don't want to annoy the Islington ruling class...

Aug 19, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Not just credit to Guido - AM has been on this case for some time ...

AM take down! Detective arrested for leaking info to the Guardian

The myopic reaction of the BBC is a delight to behold.

Aug 19, 2011 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

The current Government is too timid to reform (abolish would be preferable in my book) the BBC; however, the cessation of Public Sector job advertisements in the Guardian (thereby leading to the paper's demise) would certainly concentrate a few minds at the Beeb and maybe negate the need for "the surgeon's knife".

Aug 19, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDabble

"the Guardian’s squeaky clean reputation"

Was it?

Aug 19, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

The reaction to this story is bizarre. How do you all think journalists actually get stories, other than by people telling them things that, sometimes, they shouldn't be telling anybody? If it's done freely, what's wrong with it? It might get the sources in trouble if their leaking is discovered, but as long as the paper doesn't rat on them then it's in the clear.

It has nothing to do with illegal hacking of phones or bribery and corruption. Unless any of you are alleging that the Guardian paid to suborn the leaker, then this is a non-story. Journalist does his job - hold the front page.

Aug 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ

The police officer involved is a detective constable. Whilst it sounds impressive it is the lowest rank in the police force. The only difference between a constable and a detective constable is that the detective has passed a couple of exams and works for the CID (Criminal Investigation Department).

Aug 19, 2011 at 8:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Re: PeterJ

The officer involved has been arrested so obviously the police believe a criminal act may have taken place.
If the officer has released information that is in the public interest then he is protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
On the other hand if he has been paid by the newspaper to provide information that is effectively just tittle tattle, used to increase the papers circulation, then he may be subject to corruption charges. The paper will not suffer any consequences.

Aug 19, 2011 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS


The police officer has been arrested on suspicion of Misconduct in Public Office, which is a bit of a catch-all when there is no other statute to charge a public servant under. It amounts to a failure of public duty, and is a pretty stiff charge to prove.

And if the Guardian did pay a police officer for information, then it is guilty of a criminal offence, and would be charged with it. As the News of the World journalists probably will be, if Rebekah Brooks' admission of doing precisely that is proved.

It will be interesting to see if the arrested officer is actually charged with anything.

Aug 19, 2011 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ

So Guido and Bishop are dissing the Grauniad for recieving leaked/hacked information. The Climategate emails, which Bishop Hill has been poring over for nigh on two years were leaked or hacked also. Has Bishop Hill pondered the ethics of looking at hacked or leaked material before now?

Aug 19, 2011 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Interesting that PeterJ turns up to tell us that this is a non-story.

If he is right it is curious that the New York Times and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation are both reporting it.

Apparently he has been bailed and suspended and will be asked more questions later.

Aug 19, 2011 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM


Why is it 'interesting' that I'm commenting on this? I've been a journalist on and off for around 30 years, so I don't see why I shouldn't.

As for it being a non-story, I was going too far; what I mean is that it would not have been a story except in the context of the current furore. Public servant leaks into to the press - whatever next?

And the suggestion that the Guardian is being somehow hypocritical here is still ludicrous.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ

The concern is that the Graun have been paying for leaked information, aka corruption.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:05 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


No problem with that. If the Guardian's been bribing cops to leak, then throw the book at them. Is there any evidence at all that this is what has occurred?

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ

In any event why should anyone be surprised at any of this?...they're all peas in a pod and this is just the game being played.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterjones


Only that they have arrested the copper in question. That's not decisive, of course, but it doesn't look very good either.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:18 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


We'll have to wait and see. The Met certainly won't be keen on the Guardian just at the moment, so if there is any proof of payment it won't be swept under the carpet this time. Then I'd be shouting 'hypocrite' with the rest.

But the Met is also particularly sensitive to leaking allegations at present, so it's no surprise they've arrested someone for it rather than going through internal disciplinary procedures as has happened in the past.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ

@Bishop Hill
Thanks. So that's a No then.

Although , it's not just a concern about how the Graun spends it's money. In Leigh's case the concern is that he hacked . Why don't I read the same opprobrium for RC as I do for David Leigh ? I'm yet to read a single concern anywhere in any climate skeptic literature about the ethics of building a skeptic case based on espionage.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

@Hengist McStone

No suggestion that the Guardian hacked anyone (in this particular case) more that they were involved in a corrupt practice.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

PeterJ Aug 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM

The reaction to this story is bizarre. How do you all think journalists actually get stories, other than by people telling them things that, sometimes, they shouldn't be telling anybody?

Peter, I agree, it has always been thus. However that used to be the start of the journalistic process, now it appears to be the end of it.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

"Leigh's name has come to prominence in recent days, with the UK's premier political blogger, Guido Fawkes, accusing the Guardian man of being involved in phone hacking. The evidence seems pretty incontrovertible, "

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

grow up, Hengist. Is it too difficult for you to follow the trains of thought? It seems apparent that the tax-dodging Guardian has been bribing police officers to disclose titbits of information. If the pact between law-abiding citizens and the police breaks down - whether encouraged by sleazy gutter-press tax-dodging journalistic toynbeeista scum at the Guardian or not - them yo have a recipe for civic disaster - such as the looting in London.

And it seems more and evident as time passes that CRU was not hacked. It was a leak. Get up to speed, Hengist.

Aug 19, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

If it turns out that Climateate was an inside job, surely the term "whisteblower" would be more appropriate, and the legal system and society is more supportive of such a motive

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:00 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

I am up to speed. The previous headline talked of 'the Climategate hacker'. Hack or leak is irrelevant. I wonder why the skeptic blogosphere has never pondered the ethics of espionage until there is some mud to throw at a lefty paper. Yet since November 09 the skeptic blogosphere has based their case of scientific malfeasance on material gleaned through espionage.

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

If, as seems likely from the stream of scoops with apparent police sources, police officers have been giving off-the-record briefings about ongoing criminal investigations to selected journalists, then there is indeed a book that can be thrown at them, as they would be compromising their own investigations (gross misconduct) and potentially perverting the course of justice (criminal offence punishable by jail) and the journalists involved would be accessories.
Of course the Guardian would argue that as it has superior knowledge of the public interest it is above the law so none of this matters, and since by definition everything it does is in a good cause then there is always justification and so their faux outrage at other newspapers who do the same thing for commercial rather than political ends is not hypocrisy. Whether you agree with them depends on your worldview, Hengist. Bloody silly name, by the way.

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Hengist McStone
get off the high horse the Grundy was happy to splash wikileaks and has been more then happy to use info from sources that shall we say beg certain questions to be asked about their ethics and hypocritical standards!

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

Sorry cross post. Please set our your evidence that the Climategate incident was espionage. No doubt you have supplied it to Norfolk plod, so perhaps you could explain why they have not been able to mount criminal prosecutions.

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Hengist, the problem is that the Guardian is ideologically opposed to hacking if it embarrasses their ideological comrades (ClimateGate) and more than happy to sell newspapers based on hacking and based on espionage like Assange or corrupt policing as long as their enemies are attacked (NOTW).

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Hengist McStone Aug 19, 2011 at 11:26 PM

"Yet since November 09 the skeptic blogosphere has based their case of scientific malfeasance on material gleaned through espionage."

нет! физика

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

@PeterJ - being charged with Misconduct in Public Office is one thing: it's not unusual for people to be arrested on one charge then prosecuted for something else.

If I were the police officer and the journalist(s) involved I might be more concerned about the prospect of being served with an indictment for an offence or offences under the Bribery Act 2010, if it transpires that "a financial or other advantage" has been promised or delivered.

Misconduct in Public Office would only affect the police officer and carries a maximum life sentence, but as you say is fairly rare and reserved for particularly egregious behaviour. The Bribery Act 2010 on the other hand carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and, crucially, applies to both briber, bribee and (financially) the briber's organisation.

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Hengist McStone if you have any evidenced of any hack on CRU, its your duty to supply it to the police and they would be grateful for it to as so far they seem to have found none, why will you be doing this ?

And I have to say its hard to take mortality lessons from those that have no issues with immorality when it comes those they support , the actions for the 'Team', anti-scientific or not , certainly weren't moral . And no saying 'that's different ' does not cut it.

Aug 19, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

No one would be surprised the Guardian has been up to the same thing , I suggest most people suspect most of the press has been up to the same thing , as private detectives who have been interviewed have suggested .

The difference is the Guardian as a hypocrisy problem , in that it loves to attack others for their behavior but does the exact same things its self . 'Its different when we do it ' could almost be their motto.

Aug 20, 2011 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR


Exactly so. I agree completely. That's why we need to wait and see what the charges are (if any) and what the evidence is.

But there is a clear difference between leaks and corruption, at least from the leak receiver's point of view. Most journalism that isn't PR and churnalism comes from some form of leak or other, which is why the protection of sources is one of journalism's strongest rules.

What papers make of leaks once they have them is up to their political stance, which also tends to determine the nature of the leaked information they receive. Police officers and police press offices have leaked information that makes them look good for as long as there have been police forces, as have politicians of all stripes. Similarly, public servants have always leaked information that they hope will stop or expose activities that they disagree with politically.

Aug 20, 2011 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ


Spies did it?

What next? Aliens?


Aug 20, 2011 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

PeterJ Aug 20, 2011 at 12:13 AM

"What papers make of leaks once they have them is up to their political stance, which also tends to determine the nature of the leaked information they receive."

So the 4th Estate no longer has any responsibility to relay the truth to its patrons? Its sole purpose is now propaganda? Do you not see any danger to the freedom of the press in your statement?

Apart from that, thank you for the requiem to the investigatory journalist!

Aug 20, 2011 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Sadly, Green Sand you have pointed to the real issue. However, it is nothing new. Finding the truth is a difficult endeavor. This has been the case since the time of Diogenes of Sinope.

Aug 20, 2011 at 1:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

@Green Sand

Well, information is information and selection and interpretation are selection and interpretation, in any actually-existing form of journalism you can name. I think that you have a rather utopian view of what journalism ought to be, rather than taking it for what it is, with all its faults,

Aug 20, 2011 at 1:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ


Fifty years ago, when I took a journalism course at Columbia University, it was "Who, what, when, where, why and how?"

Now it is fiction, and fairly bad fiction at that. But post-modern journalism is what it is, as is post-modern politics and post-modern science. And I detest all three as I remember what they all use to be. I think you should as well.

Aug 20, 2011 at 3:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Whats wrong Hengist? Will no one comment to you over at your own blog?

Aug 20, 2011 at 4:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

I think it does matter whether it was a hack or a leak. If it was a leak then there is a whistleblowing defence set down in law.

Aug 20, 2011 at 6:37 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

BH I think it does matter whether it was a hack or a leak. If it was a leak then there is a whistleblowing defence set down in law.

If someone who, in the course of their work, has legitimate access to information releases it, I don't think any criminal offence has been committed. (I'm not talking about stuff covered by the official secrets act.) Of course, it may be a disciplinary matter with their employer.

Aug 20, 2011 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Hengist it would be difficult to rely on anything other than information gleaned by "espionage" when your crowd wont release any data even when legally compelled to.

Aug 20, 2011 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterDuncan

@Don Pablo

I also despise post-modernism of all types. And the process of journalism - the who, what, when, etc. - has never changed. But even fifty years ago, you had to add to that process the questions of which stories were covered at all, which stories were printed or not once they were written, and how those stories were presented and edited to give them a particular slant. There was no golden age, and even investigative journalists choose what to investigate and what to leave alone.

The Internet is actually opening things up wonderfully, as readers can go to the original documents to draw their own conclusions, and then write whatever they want about them online. The political funnels of the traditional press and TV news outlets can't keep the flow of information under their exclusive control any more.

Aug 20, 2011 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeterJ

@Bishop Hill Aug 19 at 10:05 PM

Where are you getting 'the Graun have been paying for leaked information' from? Certainly not the Guardian nor Guido.

Aug 20, 2011 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

Hengist, "THE CONCERN IS THAT the Graun have been paying for leaked information"

This is a point of discussion, not an assertion.

How difficult is it for you to quote fully in context, rather than out of context and in error, and answer your own idiotic question?

Is your incessant misrepresentation a pathological problem? Is English not your first language, perhaps? Both are entirely sufficient reasons in that they would go a long way to explaining your bizarre slant, and all you need to do is say so.

Or is it just that, through sheer necessity, you're so wedded to serving up disinformation, misinformation and constructing your arguments on necessary logical fallacies that you're unable to resist doing so, at all, ever?

Aug 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

@Simon Hopkinson
Its perfectly reasonable to ask someone to cite their source. In doing so I am inviting Bishop Hill to clarify whether his concern is based on his own speculation or a report I havent come across yet.

Aug 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist McStone

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