Among the 153 celebrities and politicians the News of the World allegedly asked Derek Webb to put under surveillance, one name stands out – Maxine Carr. And for both Maxine Carr and Derek Webb, 17 December 2003 turned out to be a very significant date.
Maxine Carr had been arrested on 17 Aug 2002, on suspicion of providing her partner Ian Huntley with a false alibi at the time of the murders of two young Soham girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Carr was charged on 21 Aug 2002, and remanded in custody until trial. The trial of Huntley and Carr started at the Old Bailey the following year, on 3 Nov 2003. It lasted some weeks until Huntley was convicted of the two murders. Carr was convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
The key date that the jury gave those guilty verdicts was 17 December 2003. That same date, by a strange coincidence, was Derek Webb’s first day working for the News of the World.
Webb had just retired from his job as a Hertfordshire police detective – a role that had given him marketable skills and specialist experience in covert surveillance. He had a contact at the News of the World (NOTW) who arranged enough surveillance commissions that Webb was able to work exclusively for the NOTW. Apart from a 15 month hiatus in 2007-2009, Webb worked for the title from 17 Dec 2003 until the paper closed on 10 July 2011. (here)
When the title folded, Webb put together a dossier of his taskings and invoices in support of his claim for a ‘loyalty’ payment in lieu of notice. News International declined to make payment. The Management and Standards Committee of parent company News Corp advised Webb to take his evidence to the Metropolitan Police (MET).
It includes sports stars, celebrities etc, but also Princes William and Harry, the Director of Public Prosecutions, several MPs (mainly Labour) including Tom Watson MP – plus Maxine Carr.
On her release from prison on probation in May 2004, it was reported: (here)
The media is expected to go to the High Court on Friday to challenge an interim court injunction protecting her identity and release details.
The Home Office said it supported the court order because of ‘concerns over her health and threats to her safety’… The court order, requested by Carr’s lawyers, bans publication of any information which could lead to Carr’s proposed new identity or address being revealed,.. Meanwhile, the Home Office says a “thorough” investigation will be carried out into the theft on Tuesday of key documents relating to Carr’s release…The documents were stolen from a Home Office official’s car parked in Hampstead, north London.
The interim order was unsuccessfully challenged and Carr was granted an injunction against the press until further notice (Carr v News Group Newspapers  EWHC 971 (QB)).
…if the injunction were to be refused, the task of the police and the probation service would become much more difficult, if not impossible. There is evidence from the claimant herself, from her solicitor, from a senior police officer, from a senior officer of the probation service and from a psychiatrist…. to protect her new identity and to restrict information about her whereabouts and employment, arguing that the injunction should be continued until further order on the grounds that there was a real and significant risk of her injury or death.
And the significance of that crucial date, 17 December 2003?
It means that the entire time NOTW was giving Webb surveillance tasks, Carr was either in prison or living a changed identity in a highly secret ‘protected persons’ programme, and under the injuncted ruling of the High Court of Justice. It also means the NOTW surveillance by Webb must therefore post-date Carr’s release from prison in May 2004, and probably came from sensitive information originating from leaks by Witness Protection Unit or Probation Service.
Webb did not select his own targets. He would be contacted via the NOTW newsdesk and given the personal information necessary for him to start surveillance – names, business or home address, current location and so on. To obtain that data, NOTW could have used legally available public domain info, or use ‘private detectives’/’tracing agents’/’information agents’/’freelance researchers’/’search agencies’ and so on to access personal data on their behalf. The newsdesk had a hefty budget for this, under the generic heading of ‘special investigations’. At various times during the period 2000-2011, the Old Bailey trials have heard, substantial sums were allegedly spent – eg Glenn Mulcaire £2019 per week, Andy Gadd £1000 per week
Gadd met Edmondson for lunch in 09 and raised phone hacking which had been in press. "He did not seem to know a great deal about it"
— lisa o'carroll (@lisaocarroll) November 20, 2013
and ‘ELI’ £2000 per week
BREAKING: Dan Evans said NOTW had a budget for "inquiry agent" TDI – trace direct international (ELI) – a couple of grand a week on nos
— Peter Jukes (@peterjukes) January 27, 2014
TDI was a small company set up by Sarah and Lloyd Hart. Its registered address was
580 KINGSTON ROAD, RAYNES PARK
ELI was another small company registered to an accommodation address in Cardiff, opaquely incorporated through 2 start-up businesses as Directors. ELI a.k.a Express Locate International did not operate from its registered Cardiff address. Instead, it operated from a familiar trading address:
As well as NOTW, Express Locate International was used extensively by Northern and Shell titles, according to evidence submitted to the Leveson Inquiry, Nicole Patterson, exhibit 2. (here)
Among the hundreds of enquiries into individuals commissioned from ELI by Northern and Shell was Maxine Carr. (for background see here)
The integrity of protected person / witness protection programmes has been an enduring feature of Hackgate and related scandals for a long, long time. Illegal access to Police National Computer and other sensitive data in order to compromise witness protection has been known to law enforcement agencies and documented through Operations Motorman, Glade, Barbatus, Abelard I, Abelard II, Flandria, Caryatid and Project Riverside (see here)
Yet despite all the press coverage – and the publication of the Leveson Report in November 2012 – as recently as July 2013 Trevor Pearce (a director of the National Crime Agency and formerly Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), denied any knowledge of compromised witness protection:
As a law enforcement officer who has had some significant engagement with the undercover world and the protected persons’ world, I have not heard of that before.
Also unaware was MET Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations who when asked about the security and integrity of MET witness protection responded “we are not aware of anything in the Metropolitan Police of infiltration of witness protection.” (see here)
CARYATID – THE DIRECTORATE OF PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
It was standard MET assertion to the Leveson Inquiry that Operation Caryatid (the investigation into phone hacking by Goodman and Mulcaire 2006-2007) was retained strictly within Andy Hayman’s command – Specialist Operations (SO). But key aspects were in fact passed outside of SO, to the MET Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).
The Leveson Report (Vol I) said:
The Report of the High Tech Crime Unit
On 23 November 2006, pursuant to a task set by DCS Surtees, the High Tech Crime Unit of the Directorate of Professional Standards at the MPS produced a report setting out the results of the examination of the computers and other storage media seized during the August searches…The investigating officers were concerned to discover that within the report were the details of people who had been given new identities as part of the witness protection programme… it gave rise to the possibility that police officers had been providing information to Mr Mulcaire…
DCS Surtees instructed DI Maberly to contact the witness protection unit, provide them with the list of names and ask them to take whatever action they considered necessary. When DI Maberly did so: “it quickly became apparent that contained within were names of interest to [the unit].” … The report of the High Tech Crime Unit included the following statement: “It is also believed attempts may have been made to corrupt serving police officers and misuse the Police National Computer”.
So what of the role of the Directorate of Professional Standards in the 2006-07 investigation?
Standard practice in the MET is that the DPS should be informed of any intelligence that the security of a ‘protected person’ for their immediate attention:
“Investigating officers should contact the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) in all cases where protection measures have the potential to be frustrated because of the existence or suspicion of corruption within a Law Enforcement or Government Agency.” p2 (here)
Yet, in the case of Operation Caryatid, the DPS took no known action.
The Leveson Report continues:
It is argued by the Core Participant Victims that the apparent failure to act on this adds to the impression that there were areas of investigation which were highly sensitive and which made the MPS unwilling to probe further. Although I understand the concern, it would not be appropriate for me to go further. Suffice to say, the current criminal investigation continues and my determination not to prejudice that investigation has meant that further detail has not been explored in the evidence. The points that I have made about the individual officers responsible for the conduct of Operation Caryatid are not affected and remain, even if there was some additional thread which could have been followed.
Given there was evidence from 2006 the highly sensitive witness protection programme had been breached, the DPS’s inertia is disturbing. But there was another opportunity for it to be re-visited in 2009 as a result of John Yates’ quasi-review of Caryatid. At the MET Commissioner’s request, Yates (by then himself heading Specialist Operations) believed he had the necessary objectivity for the task as he had not led the original 06-07 phone hacking investigation. Yates concluded there was no ‘new’ information. Technically, that may be accurate as the evidence regarding ‘protected persons’ was not ‘new’ as it had been seen by Specialist Operations, WPU (Witness Protection Unit) and DPS three years earlier.
Yates could, presumably, have been more diligent and asked questions about this sensitive evidence and the motivations for the lack of action by the DPS. At the very least he should perhaps have challenged the senior officer who headed the MET portfolio which included the Directorate of Professional Standards in 2006-07.
That senior officer was Acting Assistant Commissioner JOHN YATES. (here)
This post originally appeared on the Brown Moses – The Hackgate Files Blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks