You don’t get to be a tabloid without the police issue cheerleading outfit. Especially if you’re one of the mid-market examples, constantly worried about immigrants and the unemployed. The Express managed to spend money watching a range of terrorist suspects and those in the police who have watched them.
For Abu Quatada, they managed to spend £1075 to investigate over a single days story. This is for someone under house arrest, so you don’t need a PI to follow someone around. But it’s also someone banned from using phones and computers, so you would question what services were being supplied, unless it’s all the mentioned persons family, or their DWP records being blagged. Interestingly, the Express were willing to spend more on a single hate figure than they spent on investigating the 7/7 bombers, on whom they only managed to spend £705. One thing that it does suggest is that in the case of Quatada, the attacks have been started by the Newspapers rather than by leaks from relevant government departments. If it had come from handouts from the home office and DWP then Desmonds troops would have been able to save money by not spending cash on PI’s
Looking further down the list there are a whole range of possible terror suspects who Desmonds troops are willing to throw a few pounds at a PI to find their details. Here are a few examples with the amount paid
Haroon Rashid (Atalah) £264. (Yassin)Hassan Omar £76 London Bombers £212 London Bombings £705 Girma Yeshi £76 Abdul Muhid £100 abdul rauf £76 Zahoor Iqbal £271
If you are to look at the people involved, there are several questions to ask. If they are following the same pattern as has elsewhere been employed, then it’s possible that details have been exchanged with co-operating servants of the law. Otherwise, it would involve acquiring friends and family details from a variety of databases (most likely phone companies) none of which can be done legally. After all, these people are all under arrest, or have taken part in terrorist activities that have left them far from this mortal coil. Either situation leaving them at best unlikely to answer a phone that is now in the hands of the police, and possibly leaving you having to answer some very awkward questions from men in uniforms with no sense of humour.
Further inside the list are a variety of current and former police officers probably the most interesting of which is Sir David Veness. Now Sir David is the former Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at the metropolitan police from 1994 to 2005 and then United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security. From 2005 to 2008, When he was transferred out from the met, he was replaced by Andy Hayman so but for the international adventure, he could have been the man facing awkward questions in front of committees and judges. It may be that he will be a witness in Leveson part 2 as some of the alleged criminal activity will have happened at a time when he was the man holding the hot seat, rather than Hayman.
The Quick and the Dead
From talking to both journalists, and those who have encountered them, the most despised part of the Newspaper art is the so called “death knock” were hapless journalists or photographers are sent round to acquire quotes and pictures of the newly grieving relatives, sometimes even before the Police have arrived to tell the victims family that the unfortunate is no longer with us. (that is an apparent cascade of dawning comprehension as to the situation on both sides of the conversation that cannot be a pleasant experience)
In amongst the lists provided by the express are a large number of names of the recently departed. Now seeing as finding the individual named in the stories phone number would be at best unproductive, you can only assume that the connections are being trawled for friends and family contacts to add colour to the stories.
If you are remotely well known, or have died in an unusual way then the paper seems to find it open season on your friends and relations And if you’re a death that manages to hit the front pages then there appears to be no limit.
Some days over the last several years it has seemed if the Express isn’t trying to tell you that the cure for cancer hasn’t been discovered, or the weather is going to be how it doesn’t eventually turn out then it’s either still punting spurious stories based on the people’s princess. However on days when that isn’t occurring then it’s working on driving the same old crowd of Bullying McCann conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.
Searchline and System Searches came up with the following billed Items for those investigated
McCann (ref 093/L) £135 published Daily express 04/05/2007
Murat (ref 099/L) £464 published daily express 07/12 2007
Rob Murat (ref 100/L) £464 published daily express 07/12 2007
Kate McCann (ref 132/L) £382 published Daily Express 20/9/2007
Kate McCann (ref 136/L) £499 published Daily Express 9/11/2007
Kate McCann colleague (ref 137/L) £264 published Daily Express 9/11/2007
Kate McCann friends(ref 229/L) £499 published Daily Express 9/11/2007
Gerald McCann (ref 14656) £282 published Daily Express 21/9/2007
And that isn’t including named friends of the McCanns (a no doubt incomplete list from the paperwork)
Dianne Webster (116/l) £146.88 published Daily Express 31/8/2007
Russell o’Brian (117/s) £146.88 published Daily Express 31/8/2007
Deanne Webster (139/l) £88.13 published Daily Express 21/9/2007
And then much more expensively the following came from JJ services
Murat (ref 6013) £904 published Sunday express 26/8/2007
McCann (ref 6017) £851 published Sunday express 22/9/2007
Sophia Murat (ref 2169/g) £188 published Daily express 05/06/2007
Now JJ services is one of the names that popped up in relation to the previous ICO operation Motorman investigation. And from that we have a price list for their services, published in What Price Privacy
Information required Price paid to Price charged to customer
Occupant search/Electoral roll check (obtaining or checking an address) £17.50
Telephone reverse trace* £75
Telephone conversion (mobile)* £75
Friends and Family £60 – £80 not known
Vehicle check at DVLA £150 – £200
Criminal records check £500
Area search (locating a named person across a wide area) £60
Company/Director search £40
Ex-directory search £65 – £75
Mobile telephone account enquiries £750
Licence check £250
Now it is noticeable that very few of these services are legal. But even the most expensive activity that can only be the result of illegal techniques comes to less than was charged to investigate Kate McCann or Robert Murat. Now it’s possible that they were paid to sit outside the house of Robert Murat. However, half the worlds press, including Express Journalists were there, so it seems unlikely.
You would think that something closely related to the activities on that list were a more likely source of the bill, But even though it was mentioned by DAC Sue Akers at one of her committee appearances that investigations into the paper group were happening as yet we see no signs of Express group journalists feeling the heavy hand of the Met on their collars.
This post originally appeared on the Brown Moses – The Hackgate Files blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks