Bellingcat

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Cook-Hames Surveillance : A Watched Kettle...

The latest piece from my regular contributor.

In the long, long list of civil actions brought against  News Group Newspapers (NGN), Claim HC11C02844 stands out from all the others.  Most  claims are against NGN and Mulcaire. However, Claim HC11C02844 (p 9) reads:
David Cook and Jacqui Hames v (1) NGN (2) Glenn Mulcaire (3) Alex Marunchak (4) Greg Miskiw
Started in Aug 2011, this particular litigation tops the league as the sole action against FOUR names. The civil action relates to allegations that the News of the World was implicated in illegal information gathering and covert surveillance of Cook and his then wife, Jacqui Hames, in 2002.  Both were serving Metropolitan Police Service (MET) police officers.  This has been in the public domain for some time - for example, covered by C4 News.

Hames' evidence to the the Leveson Inquiry on the subject can be read here pp 97-110.  There are as yet no known arrests in relation to these specific allegations.

Campaigning group Hacked Off described the personal devestation caused as 'the triple betrayal of Jacqui Hames' - sold out bt the MET, sold out to News International, and kept in the dark for years by police investigators.

The role of Southern Investigations in the Cook/Hames surveillance has also been reported widely.  In summary, there was an alleged chain of actions initiated in summer 2002 by Jonathan Rees from prison. Rees conferred with Sid Fillery, Fillery made arrangements with News of the World's Alex Marunchak for the surveillance, Marunchak liaised with NotW's Greg Miskiw on illegally obtaining personal information, Miskiw commissioned another private investigator with computer hacking skills, and also commissioned Glenn Mulcaire to undertake blagging and phone hacking. For background, see this Guardian report.

Some months later, Rebekah Wade was said to have been confronted at Scotland Yard about NotW's complicity.  Dick Fedorcio (who was at the meeting) says that he mentioned it to then MET Commissioner John Stevens but Stevens disputes this.  Of additional note is the seeming ignorance and confusion evidenced by John Stevens and Dick Fedorcio about Southern Investigations and its well-known history of corruption.

Stevens' evidence to the Leveson Inquiry demonstrates a surprising inablity to join the dots.
Mr Jay: Were you aware, at the time when you were Deputy Commissioner and/or Commissioner, that the News of the World were extensively using a private investigation company called Southern Investigations?
A:  No.
Q. Did there ever come a time when you were aware of that?
 A. No.
Q. So does this follow: that you weren't aware that the News of the World made extensive use of Southern Investigations illegally to obtain information about police officers?
A. No.
...
Q. You say in your book: "At the end of the 1990s, an independent detective agency called Southern Investigations, based in Sydenham, was frequently coming up on the anti-corruption squad's radar." So when did you become aware of that?
A. As Deputy Commissioner, a presentation was made to me to try and get a probe into Southern Investigations' offices....
...
Q. ...your book goes on to say: "Eventually, it became possible to monitor conversations and the hidden microphones picked up much intelligence about the activities going on inside. Via the agency, corrupt officers were selling stories about their investigations to newspapers and being paid quite handsome amounts of money, an unsavoury business all around."
A. Yes.
Q. So when did you become aware of that?
A. When prosecutions took place, and one or two people were successfully prosecuted.
...
Q. Taking it forward then to Crimewatch in 2002. An appeal was made on Crimewatch. DCS Cook, I think, made the appeal on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. Was this in relation to reopening the inquiry into the murder of Mr Morgan?
A. Yes, where we put a considerable amount of resources into.
Q. Were you aware of that at the time, of the Crimewatch appeal, that is?
A. No.
Q. Were you aware that Mr Cook and his family, including, of course, Jacqui Hames, were placed under surveillance by the News of the World?
A. No.
Q. Did that come to your attention later or not at all?
A. I can't remember anyone mentioning that to me in person, no.
Q. Were you aware that in about 2004, Southern Investigations was gathering evidence on senior MPS personnel, and some of that evidence related to their private lives?
A. No. 
Well, at least Stevens is consistent about his ignorance.  Fedorcio's evidence (p 57 & p 58), by contrast, is markedly contradictory:
Q. So was the name "Southern Investigations" something you heard for the first time at the meeting?
A. I think I'd heard of them in previous anti-corruption activity. So when the name came up, it wasn't a surprise to me.
...
Q. Were you aware of the corruption investigation into MPS police officers leaking information to Southern Investigations?
A. I don't think so, no.
Mindful of any traducing of her reputation, Rebekah Brooks (as Core Participant) made a Closing Submission to Leveson which names Jacqui Hames (p5) as one whose evidence either (a) made assertions for which there is little or no evidential basis; (b) gave evidence as to matters which are yet to be tested in court; or; (c) appeared to be using the Inquiry to settle old scores.

And what does DCS Dave Cook have to say?  Nothing, as he was effectively silenced by the independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) when they arrested him last January.

The timing is very significant  Cook had just returned to duties for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) after six months sick leave.  The arrest was reportedly executed the day that Cook requested an opportunity to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, and sought Core Participant status. The timing is therefore very reminiscent of the way that former-ICO investigator was raided and threatened with prosecution on the eve of his evidence to Leveson.

So Dave Cook is kettled in silent limbo - waiting for that tardy IPCC/CPS charging decision, or perhaps disciplinary or dismissal.

And still waiting for overdue and decisive MET legal action in relation to Case HC11C02844.

Related Articles
Alex Marunchak - Presumed Innocent
The Milly Dowler Hacking - Part 1: Questions Still Unanswered
Operation Tuleta - A Second Look
Some Intriguing Hackgate "Known Unknowns"

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

3 comments:

  1. See:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/exclusive-news-of-the-world-computer-hacker-exposed-scotland-yard-mole-8174924.html

    It seems almost as if the three separate News International criminal inquiries and seventy-odd arrests, are all intended solely to provide a smokescreen behind which Jonathan Rees and Ray Adams can be ignored.

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