Imagine a country where the police can’t be trusted to enforce the law, politicians can’t be trusted to represent the best interests of society, and the press can’t be trusted to impartially and fully inform the public.
This isn’t the description of a third world Banana Republic, but unfortunately the worrying trend in the UK. The heroic efforts of a handful of journalists and MPs to uncover the truth behind the recent phone hacking scandal should not be allowed to rest there. The accusations of police bribery and corruption are paramount in this story as it reveals not just police failings or bad decision making, but potential complicity with the unpleasant activities of the media.
Unsavoury conduct in the police is likely to reveal that they were often the press’ source of personal details (such as names and contact details of victims and suspects) thus facilitating phone hacking in the first place (see notes from the Metropolitan Police Authority meeting in 2009 in link below).
The extent of bribery, corruption and coercion by some in the media could also explain why earlier police investigations seemingly found no major issues, and may even reveal how senior executives in the media organisations must have been aware of, or even sanctioned unscrupulous behaviour, through authorising payments.
I wonder if the amount of corruption identified so far is only small because of a lack of looking under enough rocks by truly independent investigators.
Potentially corrupt police officers cannot investigate allegations of their own corruption!
Perhaps we all need to support London Mayoral candidate and MPA member Jenny Jones in her request that we get a formal declaration from all officers involved in the MET Investigations (Operations Weeting & Elveden) that they have never and are not receiving any inappropriate payments or are under any undue pressure or influence from outside sources:
Without a trusted police force, it is frightening to think what is now possible. A non-elected corporation which has files on the private lives of politicians, the police, celebritries and members of the public. Information is acquired illegally either by phone hacking (which is akin to tapping is it not?) or by bribing the police. This intel is then used to apply undue influence on anyone who dares to stand up against the firm.
The media’s duty is to acquire (through legal and legitimate means) information to inform the public of illegal behaviour. Instead they have engaged in illegal conduct to acquire information on various peoples’ perfectly legal (if salacious) behaviours.
The police’s duty is to uncover and pursue illegal conduct. Instead they have monumentally failed to pursue this illegal conduct, and what is more, all but covered it up.
We have a history in this country of distrusting politicians, the press and powerful businessmen, but to begin to severely distrust the police is a very worrying consequence of this whole episode.