The Sue Akers Operations
Currently there are four ongoing police operations led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers Head of Organised Crime & Criminal Networks within the Specialist Crime Directorate, one of the main branches of the London Metropolitan Police Service. These are Operation Weeting, Operation Elveden, Operation Tuleta and Operation Kalmyk.
The build up to Operation Weeting
Operation Weeting into allegations of phone hacking began on 26 January 2011, after the Metropolitan Police announced they had received a “significant amount” of information regarding the conduct of News of the World employees, and that it would take place alongside the previously announced review of phone hacking evidence by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
This “significant amount” of information was partly based on documents that had been originally seized as part of the 2006 police investigation Operation Caryatid into the interception of phone messages from Clarence House that resulted in News of the World journalist Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire being convicted in 2007, and triggered the resignation of Andy Coulson as editor of News of the World.
In 2009 the Guardian began publishing a series of articles claiming that the culture of phone hacking went far beyond what was discovered in Operation Caryatid, and that a wide range of people across different areas of public life had been victims of hacking. News Corp and the News of the World strongly denied the allegations, and called on the Guardian to share any evidence they had with the police, while the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Stephenson directed Assistant Commissioner John Yates to review Operation Caryatid.
In a single 8 hour session Yates decided not to take any further action, a decision that was examined at the Leveson Inquiry. Sir Paul Stephenson said John Yates had ruled there was no fresh material that could lead to convictions, and the force felt it couldn’t justify using resources to investigate the claims due to the focus on anti-terrorism at the time. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer told the Leveson Inquiry that he had asked John Yates to consider the contents of the “for Neville” email, but John Yates had told him " that it was not new, it had been seen before and thus I took from that he didn’t consider at that stage there was any point for investigation of [the] email.”.
After the police failed to take further action several public figures began legal proceeding against the News of the World owners News International, part of News Corp, and against Glenn Mulcaire. Papers lodged in the High Court during litigation proceedings brought by Sienna Miller suggested that Ian Edmondson, a senior editor at the News of the World, was involved in work undertaken by Mulcaire. This led to News International group general manger Will Lewis being tasked with reviewing any internal documents relating to the 2006 Goodman court case, leading him to re-examine all the files held by Harbotle and Lewis, who had defended News International against an unfair dismissal case brought by Clive Goodman in 2007, which uncovered even more questionable material.
This material was passed onto a second legal firm, Hickman Rose, who in turn asked the former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald to examine the evidence and report his findings to the News International board. The report found evidence of a variety of criminal activity and recommended to the News International board the matter should be referred to the police, which it immediately did.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced that it would immediately review the evidence collected during Operation Caryatid following by the Metropolitan Police announcing on January 26th 2011 that it was launching Operation Weeting.
As of February 2012 DAC Sue Akers has said there’s currently 90 police officers working on Operation Weeting and related operations, reviewing 11,000 pages of evidence, with 5000 landline phone numbers and 4000 mobile phone numbers mentioned in the documents, and a potential 6349 victims and 829 likely victims as of February 2012.
Currently 23 people have been arrested as part of Operation Weeting, including at least 15 individuals who have worked for News International or News International newspaper titles.
On May 15th Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charlie Brooks, News International security head Mark Hanna and 3 others were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, with Rebekah Brooks facing three separate counts.
This operation is running alongside Operation Weeting and is examining allegations of inappropriate payments made to police, and is supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). As of January 10th 2012 nine arrests have been made as part of Operation Elveden, including police officers and individuals who have worked for News International newspapers.
Also running alongside Operation Weeting is Operation Tuleta, which is investigating allegations of computer hacking, with DAC Akers stating in February 2012 that there are currently 20 officers looking into 57 claims of “data intrusion” on behalf of journalists, examining 4 terabytes of data.
A handful of arrests have been made so far, but interestingly at least 2 of the arrests were for crimes unrelated to journalists, indicating Tuleta is investigating anyone suspected of commissioning hackers, not just journalists.
This operation is related to Operation Tuleta, and is believed to be related to allegations of the hacking of Ian Hurst’s computer by Phillip Campbell Smith on behalf of the News of the World. Ian Hurst has stated he believes Phillip Campbell Smith was working for Jonathan Rees, who has been linked to the murder of Daniel Morgan (something I’ll examine in detail later), and was heavily involved with the News of the World.
Separately to Operation Weeting and its related investigations the Scottish Major Investigation Teams under the command of Detective Superintendent John McSporran are investigating aspects of the evidence presented during the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial, along with specific claims of phone hacking and breaches of data protection in Scotland. On May 2nd Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond stated 40 police officers were currently working on the operation and the operation would take precedence over any inquiry the Scottish Parliament decided to set up.
Specific allegations by Tommy Sheridan’s solicitor Aamer Anwar include:
- Allegations that witnesses gave perjured evidence in the trial of Tommy Sheridan.
- Allegations that, in respect of persons resident in Scotland, there are breaches of data
- Alleged offences determined from material held by the Metropolitan Police in respect of ‘phone hacking’ (Contraventions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) and breaches of data protection legislation in Scotland.
- Alleged instances of police corruption linked to the above two items.
On May 30th 2012 Andy Coulson was arrested and charged with perjury by Strathclyde Police.