Coffee House

Motorman returns

10 April 2012

1:46 PM

10 April 2012

1:46 PM


Guido Fawkes has caused a stir this morning by releasing a section of the Operation Motorman files, naming those News International journalists thought to have paid for private information. But so
far, Guido’s splash tells us little that we didn’t already know: he has lots of information, but has only released the names of News International journalists. Back in July, Peter Oborne wrote a
cover piece on the extent of all this for The Spectator entitled ‘What the papers won’t say’, in which he

‘The truth is that very few newspapers can declare themselves entirely innocent of buying illegal information from private detectives. A 2006 report by the Information Commissioner gave a
snapshot into the affairs of one such "detective", caught in so-called "Operation Motorman". The commissioner’s report found that 305 journalists had been identified
"as customers driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information". It named each newspaper group, the number of offences and the number of guilty journalists. But, as the
commission observed, coverage of this scandal "even in the broadsheets, at the time of publication, was limited". The same reticence has been seen, until now, over the voicemail-hacking


Above is the graph we ran alongside Peter’s article, illustrating the Commissioner’s findings — as well as how many articles each newspaper group had written about the
phone-hacking scandal. As Pete Hoskin said at the

‘They reveal a striking correlation. Turns out, those papers whose journalists were most implicated in the Whittamore bust are also those who have devoted the least number of reports to the
phone hacking story. A coincidence? Perhaps. But, in any case, it certainly doesn’t inspire confidence.’

The question is what happens next. The Information Commissioner’s Office has ‘strongly
Guido’s publication of the files, and MediaMonkey suggests that Guido himself
has taken a sojourn to Ireland while he waits to see the ripples caused by the stone he has thrown. As the ‘Hacked off’ campaign points out,

‘It is important to note that the complete files are already in the hands of the inquiry and all of the national newspaper groups, and that many other people have had access to parts of the
files. This material is a secret only from the public and in our view partial disclosures of this kind, and of the kind published by ITN days earlier, were inevitable given the official refusal
to redact and disclose.’

Guido, like the newspapers, has the full Motorman files -— but this is a legal minefield, even for him. As he says, ‘inclusion of the name of a journalist in the Operation Motorman
files does not mean a journalist has committed a crime’. One thing’s for sure — it looks very bad indeed, and deeply embarrassing for the media groups involved. But is it more than that? In the
next few weeks, we’ll find out.

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Show comments
  • DavidDP

    One impression from the graphs is that the Guardian, being so excercised by this issues, has been publishing article after article on the Daily Mirror, the worst offender by far.

    Has it?

  • David Parker

    Trevor’s Den.
    A bit below the belt, even for you, surely?

  • Rhoda Klapp

    FOI doesn’t apply to Guido. And he does more proper journalism than the rest of them put together. He shames the MSM. Good on him.

  • TrevorsDen

    Perhaps someone should put a FOI request in to Guido.
    The next time he bleats about that sort of thing can someone please kick him in the bollox.

  • Maggie

    Why is it a minefield to name names? Newspapers and blogs have been naming News International names for months, years or possibly even decades – it certainly feels like it – but no-one has been charged yet.
    If Guido has put a foot wrong it is in believing advice from the dodgy money-grubbers at Hacked Off.

  • jon dee

    Well, it seems only like yesterday that I was imploring Mr Forsyth, using his Mail on Sunday influence, to reveal publicly the detail in Operation Motorman, when out pops the Blue Book thanks to Guido.( Mr Cameron goes to Leveson. 8/4/12 )

    Now, with the conspiracy cracks appearing it shouldn’t be long before the Red, Green and Yellow Books follow, to expose others who have treated the law and the public with contempt for years.

    The ICO’s ” strong condemnation ” of Guido should be treated with the contempt it deserves, when his office and predecessor, sat on evidence of illegality and bad practice for years, and for dubious reasons.

    Perhaps when the spotlight falls on other newspaper groups, the public will see for the first time, that it has been conned by a conniving press, only happy to leave News International in the dock, while it covered up it’s own sins.

    Leveson has lost much credibility for sitting on Motorman – fine intentions and lofty legal argument don’t hide the perception, Mr Jay.

  • Sir Everard Digby

    So the politial classes have indulged criminal activity on a wide scale. They know who the criminals are yet the judge appointed to root out the criminals refuses to act on the evidence of criminality?

    And this is somehow a blogger’s problem? It is not. It is a complete an utter scandal.Yet again the political classes judge themselves and find no-one guilty.This takes that travesty of justice one stage further – they think that simply ignoring the evidence will prevent any form of blame being attached. But we are talking about crimnal offences,details of which have been known since 2006!

    Why would the Information Commissioner condemn publication? Surely he would welcome any exposure which cleared up this evil practice.

    Once agin,the political classes stoop even lower than most of us thought possible.

  • Frank P

    Motorman returned on the 9th April at 11:07 on the “Mr Cameron goes to Levenson”, when Sean Blake drew attention to it. Obviously Guido reads the Speccie blogs, do you, Mr Jones?

    Due attribution to your own, if you please!

  • Nick

    Lets have the whole lot published.

    Lets also have the people whom the government hacked without warrants informed about that hacking so they too can sue the people responsible.

    Cover up all over the place.

    You need a government to really f*** people over.

  • Harmonicaman

    Good on Guido – up to a point. So far the hacking “scandal” and enquiry is focusing on Murdoch titles, when the world and his wife, outside of the general public, have known the lefts newspapers are just as guilty, yet allowed, in supreme hypocritical fashion to crucify the murdoch press with a free hand. Its time for the lot to be exposed to the public

  • Tulkinghorn

    This material is a secret only from the public …
    Why for gods sake?
    This is the most shameful aspect of all this.

  • Tulkinghorn

    The most fascinating part of this is your histogram showing the Socialist Squeaky-Clean Guardian has 4 paying criminals. Name them and Jug them.