Guardian’s ethical problems pile up: Police question senior Guardian reporter over phone hacking leaks

Now we don't have to read the book to know how they did it

A Guardian journalist, Amelia Hill, who was leading the coverage of the phone-hacking scandal for the Guardian has been placed under caution and questioned by police at Scotland Yard over alleged leaks from police.

It is thought that the questioning of Ms Hill, who has broken a string of exclusives surrounding the phone hacking probe, was linked to the arrest earlier this month of a 51-year-old detective on suspicion of leaking information to the newspaper.

It has been claimed she published information based on leaks from the detective assigned to the inquiry into the phone hacking probe centered on Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World.

Hill has indeed written several exclusive stories for the Guardian about the investigation into the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct Sunday tabloid.

In response to the police questioning of Hill, the Guardian argued that the case could have lasting repercussions for the way journalists deal with police officers. The statement added:

“On a broader point, journalists would no doubt be concerned if the police sought to criminalise conversations between off-record sources and reporters.”

However, the Guardian, whose coverage of the phone-hacking scandal regarding Rupert Murdoch and News of the World was as sanctimonious as it was zealous, still – as far as I can tell – hasn’t responded to the acknowledgement by David Leigh, the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, back in 2006, that he repeatedly engaged in phone hacking.  As we noted previously, David Leigh also happens to be Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s brother in law.

It was also recently reported that Leigh negligently disclosed top-secret WikiLeaks’ decryption passwords, thus enabling public access to hundreds of thousands of unredacted unpublished US diplomatic cables.

16 replies »

  1. Great hypocrisy ‘clock’ Adam.

    Don’t lose it. I have a feeling you are going to have many, many more opportunities.

    As we noted previously, David Leigh also happens to be Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger’s brother in law.

    Yes. The audacity of ‘These people’ has no bounds. Rusbridger’s gets close to half a million pounds per year salary yet The Guardian has article after article about the widening gap between high wage earners and low wage earners.

    Hypocrisy at its ‘finest’.

  2. There is something about the Guardian that encourages huge bouts of schadenfreude. As you point out, the staff’s sanctimonious, holier-than-thou world view simply brings out the glee in all who “watch” them..

  3. Please check your facts. Ms Hill was questioned under caution, not arrested. The procedures are quite different. If you’d read the story linked to properly you’d have seen that it was someone else that was arrested.

  4. sencar, o finger wagger par excellence and Guardian apologist, have you looked at the definition of questioning under caution?

    (a) You don’t know that she won’t be arrested, which is why she is put under caution. Perhaps they don’t trust her to be forthcoming or honest without the additional measures otherwise why not call on her and put the questions to her informally?

    (b) she’s helping the police by answering questions that might lead to an arrest. We don’t know whose, perhaps even Rustbucket’s brother-in-law, David Leigh, perhaps hers, perhaps someone else who works in the Guardian sewer.

    (c) I note you don’t mention the Groan’s hypocrisy either, but perhaps you are hoping we won’t notice it? What DO you think of it?

  5. sencar how are the procedures, between being questioned under caution and being arrested, different?
    Is the caution used any different?

    Why do you think that the following Tweet was posted earlier?

    “Bleak day for journalism when reporter behind vital hacking revelations is criminalised for doing her job”

  6. Gerald, it’s the usual pygmy morality of the Guardian, trying to deflect guilt and blame and seemingly totally dissociated from the fact that they are no better than the News of the World at which they pointed the finger and over the demise of which they were so quick to crow.

    This woman is suspected of having used leaked information from a corrupt police officer from whom she should never have got it. That she did get it and moreover used it makes her at least an accessory after the fact.

    I agree that the use of the word “criminalised” by the Guardian is rather intriguing under the circumstances, since being questioned under caution is not the same as being under arrest.

    And I have sincere reservations as to whether it is the job of a journalist to abandon all ethical, legal and moral standards in the service of getting a story.

  7. The simple truth is that arrest and questioning under caution are different legal procedures, as Hairshirt accepts. I was simply making a plea for initial posters to get their facts right.

  8. sencar while Hairshirt is right that being ‘interviewed under caution’ is not being ‘under arrest’ let us not attempt to minimise what being interviewed under caution means. It means being interviewed at a Police Station and the interview is tape recorded, it is far more serious than a witness statement.
    From memory it is covered by Code C, of PACE 1984, for those outside the UK PACE is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

  9. Gerald, very true. From my information gathering it seems to me that interviews under caution have at least two purposes – to test the waters as to whether the interviewee may be guilty of criminal offence(s) and to find out what the interviewee might know about other criminal activity. As you say, it is far more serious than a simple witness statement.

    As I replied above to sencar, we don’t know why Hill was interviewed under caution – it might be because she is thought not to be trustworthy (as if!!!) or because the police believe that she knows about other activities they are interested in (see below about Hill knowing about arrests before they happened – how else but from the Met itself?) Whatever the case, they may want to give what she says (or is silent about) sufficient status to be capable of use in a court of law.

    The London Evening Standard claims that she knew about impending arrests, ie before they happened, and that one police officer suspended from Operation Weeting and later arrested called the Guardian and asked to speak to her. There is absolutely no way in which information gained from that or other similar conversations and subsequently published can be argued to be in the public interest.

    I also ask myself who approached whom and what on earth might induce a police officer to risk his career, reputation and possibly his freedom, to leak information to Hill or anyone else? What on earth could have been the inducement by the Guardian?

    There is also the matter of Hill being in breach of the Guardian’s much-vaunted new code of conduct.

    The dots are all there and waiting to be joined up.

  10. sencar well if The Guardian says so then it must be true.

    “This is a matter of press freedom not of criminal behaviour by a journalist.”
    And you know this how exactly, were you present during the interview?
    Have you listened to the tapes of the interview?

    No, silly me! The Guardian says so, so it must be true.
    sencar I don’t want to spoil your day but you are aware that Father Christmas doesn’t exist aren’t you?

    • The Guardian is the most honest paper I know. Every day there is a ‘Corrections and Clarifications’ column that publishes corrections of matters of fact pointed out by readers. Every week there is a ‘Readers Editor’ column (discussing more general.reader concerns including bias and misrepresentation), and a ‘Response’ column that gives individuals several hundred words to challenge the way an issue has been reported or commented upon.
      Has CifWatch ever made use of any of these feedback facilities?

    • Try addressing your concerns directly to the Guardian via the channels I mentioned. You might be surprised.

      • sencar I have tried all the avenues you mention, and more including writing directly to the Scott Trust. I’ll let you into a little secret back in 2006 I was working in London and some evenings I would pop into the pub next to where The Guardian was then. Not to see The Guardian staff ‘at play’, interesting though that was, but it was convenient for my club.
        No, sadly, a response or lack of it from The Guardian and or GMG would not surprise me at all.
        But thank you for your advice