Bellingcat

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Where Now For The Motorman Files?

Another piece by a regular contributor speculating on the future for the Operation Motorman files:

The latest Ruling given by Lord Justice Leveson is his THIRD on Operation Motorman - it just won't go away.  (For more on the genesis of Operation Motorman, see here

The 1st Ruling on Op Motorman was dated 2nd Dec '11, and set out conditions of confidentiality and security imposed on Core Participants' access to electronic spreadsheet copies of the 'Motorman Files'.  The same day, Leveson held private hearings to address concerns from Core Participants on the assumptions the Inquiry could agree regarding the Motorman Files as evidence of wrongdoing.

The 2nd Motorman Ruling was 11th June '12. It addressed arguments on the validity for the Inquiry of releasing the names of the commissioning journalists to ascertain if their employers had subsequently reprimanded, disciplined or alternatively rewarded them with promotion. Leveson resolved that counsel for victims could present evidence from the Motorman Files only for those journalists still continuously employed. this restricted release of Motorman evidence would be names-redacted  for the public domain. Leveson proved loathe to publicise journalists' names as, he said, "I did not intend to prejudice the ongoing criminal investigation".

The 3rd Ruling, dated 11th July '12, specifically concerns Associated Newspapers submissions which challenge Leveson's assumed acknowledgement of prima facie illegalities contained in the Motorman Files. Lord Justice Leveson has, as a consequence, said that he is now prepared to make public Motorman data relating to Associated in order to resolve the contended issues.  There may be Public hearings in August for the Inquiry to deal with this sticky subject.  (For analysis, see here)

A trawl back shows that Motorman has dominated a great deal of Inquiry witness evidence, legal submission and opening statements in every Module.  Throughout, newspaper groups whose journalists are named in the Motorman Files have argued that the evidence so old, dating back to 2000-03, and could not possibly have any relevance to the current Inquiry.  Yet the Motorman Files contain, for example, evidence that Whittamore was commissioned to target the phone numbers of family members of Milly Dowler, in 2002.  Operation Baronet is the investigation into the in/actions of Surrey Police officers who, in 2002, were aware of interceptions of Milly Dowler's voicemail by the News of the World.  Glenn MULCAIRE's hacking activities for News of the World date back at least as far as 2002 if not earlier. Obviously the length of time that has passed has not precluded other police enquiries.

And wait up a minute..... what was that again? in the 2nd Motorman Ruling? Leveson saying he did not want to "prejudice the ongoing criminal investigation"? Why would he say that specifically in relation to OPERATION MOTORMAN?  Might it be that Motorman is being re-examined?  So many questions, so many loose ends...

One interesting aspect which might be worth some speculation is what has happened since Operation Motorman.  It certainly is remarkable how several 'enquiry agents'  quietly resumed working for national titles following conviction - remaining loyally silent and not implicating newspapers who commissioned them. 

Whittamore's associate John BOYALL's  premises (Data Research) were also reported as raided for evidence by Operation Motorman. 'Data Research Ltd' is dormant but still in existence, based in Surrey, but BOYALL is not listed as director - Christopher DEWSE is, another 'enquiry agent' named in the Motorman Files.

BOYALL is listed as director of 8 different companies, including the very similarly-named 'L.R.I. Research Limited', 'Legal Resource and Intelligence Research Limited' and 'Liberty Resources and Intelligent Research Limited'.

For more on evasive legal strategies of business name-changes and Jonathan REES, see 'Southern Investigations: What's in a Name?'

Glenn MULCAIRE was re-employed by News International after his release from prison, even though Mulcaire's company 'Nine Consultancy Ltd' had been dissolved in Feb '06. But Mulcaire (aka 'Alexander', aka 'Paul Williams') had another company called 'Nine Consultancy UK Ltd' too, not dissolved until 2007.

Yet another Mulcaire company 'Eight Consultancy UK Ltd' (Company No. 06280986) wasn't dissolved until 2009. Presumably, this was the conduit for his invoicing.

'JJ Services' is obscured amongst similar names in the Companies House database. However, within a month after the Operation Motorman raid, Whittamore's wife Georgina (resident at an address in Surrey) incorporated a business called 'JJ Information Ltd'. It is therefore possible that it was this new company that was open for business as usual and still used by Express titles as late as 2010.  Associated Newspapers continued to use Whittamore, according to Paul Dacre's witness evidence to the Inquiry (p 49): "But you know in 2007 we brought the shutters down and banned absolutely the use of all these -- of Whittamore enquiry agencies."  Note the plural.

So, how far has Motorman information been circulated? How much is already in the public domain? Well, a surprising amount...

The ICO have released relevant documentation to selected victims of Glenn Mulcaire's phone hacking, eg Gordon Taylor.

A Freedom of Information request made by Tom Watson MP in Feb 2010 brought some informative (though heavily redacted), searchable material into public scrutiny including the kinds of information targeted, such as criminal records checks, vehicle, friends & family numbers. 

The ICO says the Motorman Files were also used in "the Southampton prosecutions" (anybody..?), and were inspected by the Chair of the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee.

Alex Owens, former Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Motorman, provided the Leveson Inquiry with the full Motorman Files.

Core Participants have been provided with copies of Alex Owens' Motorman Files data, under strict conditions of confidentiality.

Guido Fawkes leaked a partially redacted version of the Motorman Blue Book on his blog (servers located outside of UK).

Several news organisations have had access to the full unredacted Motorman Files, resulting in reports eg The Guardian, The Independent, and ITV.

The Leveson Inquiry has required the ICO to hand over the original Motorman Files in their hard copy form.

Leveson's 1st Ruling also reveals another striking recipient of the Motorman Files: 
I also make it clear that I understand that the Metropolitan Police have been provided with copies of these documents by the Information Commissioner for the purposes of their inquiries.
Maybe 63yr old Steve Whittamore (Director ID : 908886016 Year of Birth: 1949, wife resident in Surrey) might have additional information of interest to the Metropolitan Police Service? Perhaps the Met indeed want the Motorman Files to assist  live investigations?  Might the Met be thinking of interviewing more journalists,and perhaps this explains their extending of interest further than just News International titles? Using information NOT provided by News Corporation's Management and Standards Committee? 

How much longer before the Operation Motorman dam bursts?

So many questions, so many loose ends...

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com

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