originally by: Reuters
12th July 2011
“The basic test of a decent police force is that it catches more criminals than it employs.”
That adage, coined by Robert Mark, a Metropolitan Police Commissioner in the 1970s, might just as easily be applied to another profession with a similar stake in the public’s trust — investigative journalism. In the wake of the UK’s hacking scandal, the British public seems to have reason for concern on both counts. The scandal that began at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid has tarnished the media magnate and British politicians alike.
It has also exposed the sometimes cozy, sometimes sinister relationship between parts of Fleet Street and Scotland Yard, the British capital’s legendary police force.
An independent police complaints watchdog is investigating media allegations that News of the World reporters paid tens of thousands of pounds in “bungs,” or bribes, to police officers for information about celebrities, royals and other story subjects.
Scotland Yard has also admitted it bungled its initial handling of the hacking allegations, accepting assurances from executives from News International, Murdoch’s British press arm, that the problem was limited to a single rogue reporter. Assistant Commissioner John Yates told the Sunday Telegraph his July 2009 decision not to reopen the police investigation into the hacking claims “was a pretty crap one” in light of the complaints about phone intrusions then flooding in to the Yard from celebrities and politicians.