Time for IPCC to investigate The Guardian and David Leigh’s police sources

Back to business then.  Throughout the ‘phone hacking scandal’ there was a constant and unscrutinised theme… The Guardian newspaper was accessing or being given access to information no one else but the police had about the investigation, to break new stories and run exclusives.

Update: 18 Aug – And so the Guardian’s police scoops continue

A story this weekend show the seriousness of such behaviour, with the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigating a claim that an officer on the Milly Dowler murder case gave information to the News of the World newspaper.  If it is right for the IPCC to investigate an officer feeding information to the News of the World, then surely the IPCC should also turn its attention to the raft of stories published in the Guardian that appear to have originated with police sources.

These were not discoveries, these were pieces of information supplied to Guardian journalists verbally or in documents.  When it happened, the names of two reporters in particular from David Leigh’s Guardian team working the story were nearly always on display, Nick Davies and Amelia Hill. Surely when the key recipents of the information are known it should be easier to identify the person feeding them the information.  Taking just a five day period in the timeline there were a huge number of stories published, but some are worthy of particular attention as they demonstrate the likelihood of a Guardian-friendly police mole.

For example, on 4 July, The Guardian broke the story which proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, that Milly Dowler’s voicemails had been accessed and some deleted by private investigators.  The Guardian journalists said they had seen paperwork detailing how the News of the World set about getting the personal details of the Dowlers and then accessing Milly’s mailbox. However, the information itself was contained in the 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire that was in the possession of detectives from Operation Weeting. So how did the Guardian see them?

Just one day later the Guardian revealed that police were turning their attention to examine every high-profile case involving the murder, abduction or attack on any child since 2001 in response to the Dowler revelation. Again there was nothing in the public domain about the police’s intentions. So how did the Guardian know this with enough certainty to print it as fact?  The piece included the information that the name “Greg” appeared in the corner of notes taken by Mulcaire which was believed to be a reference to the News of the World’s former assistant news editor Greg Miskiw (arrested earlier this month).  As the documents have been in Metropolitan Police hands since 2006, how do they know this?

Two days later came the next big coup for the Guardian, with the revelation that Andy Coulson had been told by police that he would be arrested on the Friday morning over suspicions that he knew about, or had direct involvement in, the hacking of mobile phones during his editorship of the News of the World. Now it’s conceivable Coulson told someone he knew about the impending arrest and that they tipped off David Leigh’s chums at the Guardian.

But how likely is it that the police will have told Coulson the other revelation in the article, that a second arrest was also to be made in the next few days of a former senior journalist at the paper? Clearly the information came from elsewhere as the Guardian stated it knew the identity of the second suspect but was withholding the name to avoid prejudicing the police investigation. Someone told them and it wasn’t Coulson’s camp, because that would have clearly undermined the police’s intention to make the second arrest.

Then a day further on the Guardian published the story that police were investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. The first reasonable assumption was that a News International insider tipped off the paper.

But that idea is dispelled by the additional colour the Guardian boasted about in its piece, namely that according to legal sources close to the police inquiry, a senior executive is believed to have deleted “massive quantities” of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a fraction to be disclosed. The legal entity that works with the police is of course the Crown Prosecution Service.  So is there a CPS mole feeding information to the Guardian as well as a highly placed police source?

Well its possible the idea of a police mole could be challenged as mere coincidence.  But the idea of coincidence falls away very quickly when one looks outside the phone hacking saga to an entirely unrelated story that again throws up all sorts of unanswered questions about how the Guardian gets its information.  This one concerns the concerted attempt to successfully identify by name, occupation and hometown an anonymous blogger who was critical of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) over the Climategate affair.  That link is to the full story on the Climate Audit blog.

The author of the Air Vent blog, “Jeff Id” had until that time been anonymous. As the article explains, his registration at WordPress was anonymous and his gmail account was anonymous.  To Jeff’s knowledge, there was no public information that would enable anyone to identify him.  So how is it that David Leigh at the Guardian managed to identify Jeff Id as “Patrick Condon, aeronautical engineer” from Illinois and locate his telephone number too?  As the piece on Climate Audit explains:

A few days before the article, Leigh had telephoned Jeff. Jeff asked Leigh how he had located him; Leigh refused to say. Jeff expressly asked Leigh not to disclose his personal information, which were then not on the public record. Leigh disregarded the request and then proceeded to “out” him as collateral damage in their smear of Paul Dennis [employee at UEA].

A couple of weeks earlier, Jeff had been asked to answer a questionnaire by the UK counter-terrorism officer investigating the release of the emails and tree ring data. The policeman had contacted Jeff at his gmail address as “Jeff Id”. In addition to inquiring about his views on climate change, the questionnaire asked his name and address. Jeff answered the questionnaire (as did I and many Climate Audit readers). To Jeff’s knowledge and recollection, that was the only disclosure of his identity that could have led to Leigh identifying him.

Leigh’s article also quotes from an email from Paul Dennis to me, which Leigh ascribed to “police files”.

So what we have here is the team of Guardian journalists who work under David Leigh, apparently being provided with information by the police (and possibly the CPS) about the investigation into phone hacking – something Leigh himself admits he has also done – and Leigh in his own journalistic capacity being able to access information about private individuals collected by police as part of a criminal investigation into alleged computer hacking of the servers at UEA.  Only a fool would accept this as coincidence, and besides, the comments thread to this post from Bishop Hill reminds readers of various other aspects of David Leigh’s behaviour and questionable methods.

Unsurprisingly, despite requests from ‘Jeff Id’ (Patrick Condon), the Guardian (via its Environment Editor Damian Carrington – remember him?) refuses to explain how it obtained his personal information.  All Carrington will say in the replies, which can be read in the Climate Audit article, is that the Guardian did nothing illegal.  No doubt if the paper is challenged about how they came by the information concerning the ‘phone hacking’ inquiry it will say the same. What is good for the News of the World goose should also be good for the hypocritical Guardian gander.

But it is clear there is a case to answer and as the Guardian will not come clean the Independent Police Complaints Commission needs to use its powers to uncover the truth the Guardian is trying to hide.  It’s time for people to put pressure on the IPCC to do its job.

29 Responses to “Time for IPCC to investigate The Guardian and David Leigh’s police sources”

  1. 1 AJC 14/08/2011 at 1:32 pm

    Regarding the outing of “Jeff Id”.

    One possible connection to is Andy Hayman – one time Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at London’s Metropolitan Police, the highest ranking officer responsible for counter-terrorism in the United Kingdom.

    Hayman would have connections at both ends (Norfolk and the Met) and presumably would have oversight of the questionnaire by the UK counter-terrorism officer investigating the CRU incident.

    Did Hayman have other connections to UEA/CRU?

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 14/08/2011 at 1:45 pm

    For reasons that cannot yet be made public, because they involve private correspondance that if discussed now could prejudice future legal proceedings, I have cause to suspect it was another Metropolitan Police officer whose name is known to me.

  3. 3 Peter Maxwell 14/08/2011 at 3:09 pm

    AM, I don’t if Guido is a subscriber, but you might like to forward this story to him. He’s got Leigh in his sights.

  4. 4 Stuck-Record 14/08/2011 at 3:38 pm

    Neil Wallis and his ‘Outside Organisation’ is common link.

  5. 5 AJC 14/08/2011 at 4:42 pm

    Neil Wallis is certainly a tasty ingredient in the same stew – Metropolitan Police, Norfolk Constabulary, UEA/CRU.

    I doubt that Wallis is so on the ball as an ambulance chaser that he wasn’t introduced to UEA/CRU by some mutual friend.

    Of course there is always Sir Brandon Gough (the UEA Chancellor and former chair of the Common Purpose Charitable Trust) in the same mix.


  6. 6 The Gray Monk 14/08/2011 at 5:35 pm

    AM, I trust you have “Laid an Information” n this to the Magistrates? That should get the wheels moving …

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 14/08/2011 at 5:43 pm

    Not I. What is happening is at a much higher level than the Magistracy.

  8. 8 jameshigham 14/08/2011 at 9:23 pm

    I know it’s a one-track mind but I’d be looking for a possible CP connection.

  9. 9 Anonymous 15/08/2011 at 2:37 am

    The accusation is a dreadful piece of anti-Guardian innuendo.

    Amidst the proven the proven wickedness of NI papers going back for years, the author dares to tar the dear old Grauniad with the same brush.

    It’s a wind up.


    For once in my life time I shall be anonymous.

    Notice this page has an ad for anti climate change lathes the EU, hates the UN, supports our heroes, and claims to be independent.

    like Fox News,fair and balanced, eh?

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 15/08/2011 at 6:53 am

    Lathes the EU? Now that’s an idea…

  11. 11 Span Ows 15/08/2011 at 10:33 am

    This has reported in many places, I hope that html works in these messages: full link HERE

    Interesting search at BBC…


  12. 12 meltemian 15/08/2011 at 11:12 am

    You’d need a bloody big one!!!

  13. 13 Andrew 15/08/2011 at 5:24 pm

    “Notice this page has an ad for anti climate change lathes the EU, hates the UN, supports our heroes, and claims to be independent.

    like Fox News,fair and balanced, eh?”

    It’s a blog, if you don’t like it then piss off somewhere else.

    And I think we all know what leftie filth mean when they make any sort of “fair and balanced” comment…

  14. 14 Span Ows 15/08/2011 at 6:09 pm

    AM, did you delete my comment? It was linking to a Google news search and an screenshot of BBC news search.

  15. 15 Autonomous Mind 15/08/2011 at 8:04 pm

    No Span. Anything with two or more links is held by default in a queue for approval in case it’s spam. I’ve released it now and it can be seen above.

  16. 16 Span Ows 16/08/2011 at 1:14 pm

    Ah, OK…thanks, just seen it. That’s a good filter to have unless you really like assorted offers for men’s watches or viagra etc!

    The fact that the BBC do not have a SINGLE word on Leigh yet had dozens of pages on Coulson BEFORE there was any real evidence speaks volumes for their ‘binding contract’ with their paper version (the Guardian)

  17. 17 Stuck-Record 16/08/2011 at 3:17 pm

    ‘Someone’ has just leaked Goodman’s smoking gun News International letter to the newspapers, oh!, I mean, The Guardian.

    I wonder who?

    Answers on a postcard.

  18. 18 AJC 16/08/2011 at 4:13 pm

    Prime candidate has to be Tom Watson. The Guardian appear to have had the leak first and even quoted Watson in their report.

    Remind me wasn’t Tom Watson in the Brown Bunker along with Balls,
    Derek Draper and Damian McBride? How much did they know of phone “hacking” back then?

  19. 19 Matt 16/08/2011 at 4:26 pm

    Oh, dear. Circular firing squads are so dangerous. Eh, Mr Watson?

  20. 20 Stuck-Record 16/08/2011 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t know who leaked it, but I watched the Murdoch select committee trial, open-mouthed that Tom Watson, a man who has never answered for being part of the amoral Downing street bunker smear-pack: Watson, Brown, Draper, Whelan, McBride and Balls (with notable assistance from Maguire of The Mirror).

    As Private Eye used to say: “Trebles all round, Dear boy!”

  21. 21 Fred Streeter 16/08/2011 at 9:13 pm

    Leigh’s criminality revealed by the BBC

    A search for “david leigh” voicemail site:www.bbc.co.uk returns:

    News of the World apology ‘opens legal can of worms’ – 15 April 2011

    “I, too, once listened to the mobile phone messages of a corrupt arms company executive – the crime similar to that for which Goodman now faces the prospect of jail. The trick was a simple one: the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail.”

    You could have scooped Guido.

    Leigh’s criminality revealed by Leigh

    A similar search for“david leigh” voicemail site:www.guardian.co.uk, sorted by date, returns:
    Scandal on tap – 4 December 2006

    Hidden in plain site for all these years. No wonder journalists (and bloggers) need private investigators.

    Leigh’s criminality ‘lost’ by Daily Mail

    Now Guardian reporter is to be quizzed by police after admitting phone hacking – 6 August 2011

    Sorry… The page you have requested does not exist or is no longer available.

    Perhaps it was only that he could be quizzed. Like wot the Sun sed.

  22. 22 Tel 16/08/2011 at 9:50 pm

    I suggest that what Jeff/Patrick should have done is make a misprint on their survey spelling his name slightly differently or something small. This allows the source of the leak to be traced more positively.

    Given that levels of trust in our society are collapsing, it’s good to know a trick or two (“trick” meaning a very clever thing that is not in the least deceptive).

  23. 23 Fred Streeter 16/08/2011 at 9:55 pm

    On the outing of Jeff ID:

    As the article explains, his registration at WordPress was anonymous and his gmail account was anonymous. To Jeff’s knowledge, there was no public information that would enable anyone to identify him. So how is it that David Leigh at the Guardian managed to identify Jeff Id as “Patrick Condon, aeronautical engineer” from Illinois and locate his telephone number too?

    Simples. That Jeff ID was an aeronautical engineer and lived in Morris, Il had been blogged by Jeff during 2009. Other details sufficient to locate Patrick Jeffrey Condon* were also present. It took just over an hour to trace him via Google using only these public domain details. No need for a surname, “Jeff” was sufficient.

    An investigator with subscriptions to US indexes and directories would have got there more quickly.

    *(I did not take the final step of viewing his private details – not being a journalist, I consider them none of my business.)

  24. 24 John M 17/08/2011 at 1:53 am

    So if the Graun just used good ol’ fashioned digging to find out JeffID’s…er…ID, the why this response?

    “Of course we can’t give you an account of how we obtained the information – we take protecting our sources very seriously.”

  25. 25 BrianJay 17/08/2011 at 12:33 pm

    Seems the Graund have hold of a piece of Select Committe document that has not been released

  26. 26 Fred Streeter 17/08/2011 at 11:07 pm

    @John M

    …why this response?

    “Of course we can’t give you an account of how we obtained the information – we take protecting our sources very seriously.”

    Generic response.

    “How did you get my number?”
    “It wasn’t so hard.”

    Same thing.

    Implies that nothing can be hidden from the all-knowing Guardian and its sources.

  1. 1 Two hacks and a shark | Calling England Trackback on 17/08/2011 at 10:22 am
  2. 2 And so the Guardian’s police scoops continue… « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 18/08/2011 at 2:58 pm
  3. 3 AM take down! Detective arrested for leaking info to the Guardian « Autonomous Mind Trackback on 19/08/2011 at 4:36 pm
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