Mirror Group Paid Blagger £442,878 for Illegally Obtained Info
65 Invoices Paid by Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror

Guido has  – completely legally – obtained the raw data from the British Information Commissioner’s ‘Operation Motorman’ investigation.  A number crunching analysis of the data shows that between 1997 and 2003 Mirror Group newspapers were invoiced 948 times by “JJ Services”, run by Steve Whittamore, a notorious blagger who specialised in illegally obtaining personal information. For that six year period the total value of the invoices amounted to £442,878.73.

Many of these invoices are addressed to MGN Ltd, publishers of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.  Nevertheless Guido has identified at least 65 invoices, totalling £20,333.31 which are directly to the Daily Mirror. These invoices are dated between 2001 and 2002. Piers Morgan was the Editor of the Mirror throughout this period.

On Desert Island Discs Morgan told Kirsty Young that, “Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves,” adding, “That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.” Almost half-a-million quid suggests that quite a lot of that went on.

The “blagging” invoices are for phone records, vehicle registration records, ex-directory numbers, to monitor mobile calls, obtain phone bills and get numbers called as well as paying off bent police officers to provide information. It could be medical records, criminal records or tax records. Blagging is a criminal offence punishable with up to two years jail time. Kate Winslet was blagged and the information was used by Piers Morgan, as he admits in his 10 April 2000 diary entry in The Insider:

“I got back to the office to learn that Kate Winslet, having indicated she would come to our Pride of Britain awards tomorrow, is now saying she can’t. Someone had got hold of her mobile number — I never like to ask how — so I rang her …. ‘Hello,’ she said, sounding a bit taken aback. ‘How did you get my number? I’ve only just changed it. You’ve got to tell me, please, I am so worried now’ ”

“Never liking to ask” is what is known legally as “willful blindness” which is when an individual seeks to avoid civil or criminal liability for a wrongful act by intentionally putting himself in a position where he will be unaware of facts which would render him liable. Or contrives to pretend such. It doesn’t work in Court because the law takes the view that it is criminally reckless to fail to find out. That in a nutshell is what Piers is, criminally reckless…

Tom Triggered The Tale

There’s an interesting snippet from Tom Bradby’s diary in this week’s ES Magazine. The ITV political editor is mates with the Prince William, but Guido didn’t know that he triggered the whole sorry phone-hacking saga:

“The then News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman’s decision to write a story about me cutting a gap-year video for Prince William must now go down as one of the most expensive in history. Since very few people knew about it, I concluded that rumours I’d picked up about tabloid hacks accessing voice messages must be true and told William as much. Along with his Private Secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, we decided it might be an idea for him to do something about it.”

And the rest they say is…

Labour Wants Coulson Cake But Ate It

The Mirror and Political Scrapbook, with more than a little help from the Labour Party press office, have gone big on the story that CCHQ did background checks on people they put on posters as part of the election campaign. Seems pretty sensible to Guido, who would have pointed and laughed if one of them turned out to be a blunder…

The Tories claim using the company Control Risks was perfectly sensible and they use them to check out their staff. The checks were done with the full consent of those involved. There is growing speculation that they were the company alluded to by Dave in reference to who checked out Coulson in 2007. Talking of which, what were Labour cheerleaders saying just the other day about vetting? 

The Guardian and Alistair Campbell were particularly succinct in their cries of foul play. So lets get this straight, you’re not allowed to vet people, but then get slammed when you don’t? Imagine the Mirror front page if the poster boy or girl had a dodgy past. There is more to this story to come. Guido gave the the Labour Party a clear chance to deny they never did a background check on anyone they have used to front a campaign. Their silence is very telling…

Friday Caption Contest (Miliband Growing In Stature Edition)

How to Handle a Story

It’s rare that a press release makes Guido laugh. Normally it would take the fake exchange of kind words between a PM and a outgoing Cabinet member, but Louise Mensch’s hit the mark.  This allegation was put to Mensch, née Bagshawe by investigative hack David Jones:

Whilst working at EMI, in the 1990s, you took drugs with Nigel Kennedy at Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham, including dancing on a dance floor, whilst drunk, with Mr Kennedy, in front of journalists. Photos of this exist.

And the reply:

Although I do not remember the specific incident, this sounds highly probable. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Nigel Kennedy, whom I remember with affection. Additionally, since I was in my twenties, I’m sure it was not the only incident of the kind; we all do idiotic things when young. I am not a very good dancer and must apologise to any and all journalists who were forced to watch me dance that night at Ronnie Scott’s.

Seems to have done the trick…

Quote of the Day

John Stuart Mill on the humane liberal case for capital punishment…

“..the most that human laws can do to anyone in the matter of death is to hasten it; the man would have died at any rate; not so very much later, and on the average, I fear, with a considerably greater amount of bodily suffering. Society is asked, then, to denude itself of an instrument of punishment which, in the grave cases to which alone it is suitable, effects its purposes at a less cost of human suffering than any other; which, while it inspires more terror, is less cruel in actual fact than any punishment that we should think of substituting for it.”

Quote of the Day

Louise Mensch replies to allegations of drug taking:

“Although I do not remember the specific incident, this sounds highly probable.”

Piers In Parliament

Political Scrapbook have been analysising Piers Morgan’s 2003 appearance before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee:

He says he would like to be congratulated. As ever…

Government Launches e-Petitions Website
Guido Submits “Restoration of Capital Punishment” Petition

As promised:

We petition the government to review all treaties and international commitments which may inhibit the ability of Parliament to restore capital punishment. Following this review, the Ministry of Justice should map out the necessary legislative steps which

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Ground Control to Major Blunder

While Westminster is on holiday, Washington burns and Piers Morgan sweats, occasionally a story comes across your desk that puts things in perspective. NASA, the sort of people that do not get their scientific facts wrong, may not be putting […]

+ READ MORE +



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