|Date: 09/05/2012 Time: 06:28:00 PM
Seven journalists were questioned as part of an
investigation into allegations of police corruption in 2004, the Leveson
Inquiry heard Wednesday.
The journalists were not arrested but were interviewed over the purchase of
information that had come from the Police National Computer (PNC).
Detective Chief Inspector Brendan Gilmour told the inquiry into media
ethics and standards that Operation Glade, which started in August 2003,
stemmed from a Devon and Cornwall Police investigation into police corruption,
codenamed Operation Reproof.
That linked with an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office,
dubbed Operation Motorman, which looked at the activities of private
investigators selling information to members of the press.
Gilmour said today that investigators found a paper trial showing that a
Metropolitan Police civilian employee, Paul Marshall, was conducting checks on
the PNC and passing them on to ex-police officer Alan King.
They were passed to private detectives Steve Whittamore and John Boyall who
were selling them to national newspaper journalists.
A search of the office of Whittamore had found a huge cache of documents
revealing a network of police and public employees selling personal
information obtained from government computer systems, which was then sold on
to journalists from various newspapers.
Gilmour said: "Whittamore kept very detailed ledgers of his business, and
he had invoices in there going out to the various newspapers and named
invoices within these newspapers.
And that's where the seven names came from."
He said the prospect of investigating journalists did not present any fear,
although police did realise the "significance of what we were doing".
In January 2004 the decision was taken to question seven journalists but
not to arrest them which Gilmour said was not necessary as he had managed to
arrange for them to attend by invitation.
Between January 19 and 31 two freelance journalists, a journalist for the
News of the World, one for the News of the World Scotland, one from the Daily
Mirror, one from the Sunday Mirror and one from the Mail on Sunday were all
Gilmour said they were asked about Whittamore's invoices which often showed
CRO (criminal records office) and were often checks about previous
But he said that during interviews the journalists said they thought the
checks were legitimate court checks and that CRO stood for "court records
Gilmour said: "We put it to them that they couldn't possibly accept or
assume that that information would get turned around so quickly, I think a
matter of hours in some cases.
"I think without exception, from memory, they all said that that is
genuinely where they thought it was from, regardless of our suspicions."
But they all "stuck with that line" and said they would not have used
Whittamore had they known the information was being accessed or obtained
illegally, Gilmour said. The hearing continues.