Thursday 13 February 2014

Under Police Protection? - Maxine Carr, Derek Webb, and John Yates

The latest from my regular contributor.

Among the 153 celebrities and politicians the News of the World allegedly asked Derek Webb to put under surveillance, one name stands out - Maxine Carr.

And for both Maxine Carr and Derek Webb, December 17th 2003 turned out to be a very significant date.

Maxine Carr had been arrested on 17 Aug 2002, on suspicion of providing her partner Ian Huntley with a false alibi at the time of the murders of two young Soham girls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.  Carr was charged on 21 Aug 2002, and remanded in custody until trial.  The trial of Huntley and Carr started at the Old Bailey the following year, on 3 Nov 2003.  It lasted some weeks until Huntley was convicted of the two murders.  Carr was convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The key date that the jury gave those guilty verdicts was 17 Dec 2003.
That same date, by a strange coincidence, was Derek Webb's first day working for the News of the World.

Webb had just retired from his job as a Hertfordshire police detective - a role that had given him marketable skills and specialist experience in covert surveillance.  He had a contact at the News of the World (NOTW) who arranged enough surveillance commissions that Webb was able to work exclusively for the NOTW. Apart from a 15 month hiatus in 07-09, Webb worked for the title from 17 Dec 2003 until the paper closed on 10 July 2011. (here)

When the title folded, Webb put together a dossier of his taskings and invoices in support of his claim for a 'loyalty' payment in lieu of notice.  News International declined to make payment. The Management and Standards Committee of parent company News Corp advised Webb to take his evidence to the Metropolitan Police (MET).

A short time before Webb was called to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in Dec 2011, his list of 153 NOTW surveillance targets was seen by Channel 4 News.(see here)

It includes sports stars, celebrities etc, but also Princes William and Harry, the Director of Public Prosecutions, several MPs (mainly Labour) including Tom Watson MP - plus Maxine Carr.

On her release from prison on probation in May 2004, it was reported: (here)
The media is expected to go to the High Court on Friday to challenge an interim court injunction protecting her identity and release details.
The Home Office said it supported the court order because of 'concerns over her health and threats to her safety'... The court order, requested by Carr's lawyers, bans publication of any information which could lead to Carr's proposed new identity or address being revealed,.. Meanwhile, the Home Office says a "thorough" investigation will be carried out into the theft on Tuesday of key documents relating to Carr's release...The documents were stolen from a Home Office official's car parked in Hampstead, north London.
The interim order was unsuccessfully challenged and Carr was granted an injunction against the press until further notice. [Carr v News  Group Newspapers 2005] (here)
...if the injunction were to be refused, the task of the police and the probation service would become much more difficult, if not impossible. There is evidence from the claimant herself, from her solicitor, from a senior police officer, from a senior officer of the probation service and from a psychiatrist.... to protect her new identity and to restrict information about her whereabouts and employment, arguing that the injunction should be continued until further order on the grounds that there was a real and significant risk of her injury or death.
And the significance of that crucial date, 17 Dec 2003?

It means that the entire time NOTW was giving Webb surveillance tasks, Carr was either in prison or living a changed identity in a highly secret 'protected persons' programme, and under the injuncted ruling of the High Court of Justice.  It also means the NOTW surveillance by Webb must therefore post-date Carr's release from prison in May 2004, and probably came from sensitive information originating from leaks by Witness Protection Unit or Probation Service.


Webb did not select his own targets.  He would be contacted via the NOTW newsdesk and given the personal information necessary for him to start surveillance - names, business or home address, current location and so on.  To obtain that data, NOTW could have used legally available public domain info, or use 'private detectives'/'tracing agents'/'information agents'/'freelance researchers'/'search agencies' and so on to access personal data on their behalf.  The newsdesk had a hefty budget for this, under the generic heading of 'special investigations'. At various times during the period 2000-2011, the Old Bailey trials have heard, substantial sums were allegedly spent - eg Glenn Mulcaire £2019 per week, 'Matey' £500 per week, Andy Gadd £1000 per week
and 'ELI' €2000 per week
TDI was a small company set up by Sarah and Lloyd Hart. Its registered address was

SW20 8DR

ELI was another small company registered to an accommodation address in Cardiff, opaquely incorporated through 2 start-up businesses as Directors.   ELI a.k.a Express Locate International did not operate from its registered Cardiff address.  Instead, it operated from a familiar trading address:

As well as NOTW, Express Locate International was used extensively by Northern and Shell titles, according to evidence submitted to the Leveson Inquiry, Nicole Patterson, exhibit 2.  (here)

Among the hundreds of enquiries into individuals commissioned from ELI by Northern and Shell was Maxine Carr.  (for background see here)


The integrity of protected person / witness protection programmes has been an enduring feature of Hackgate and related scandals for a long, long time.  Illegal access to Police National Computer and other sensitive data in order to compromise witness protection has been known to law enforcement agencies and documented through Operations Motorman, Glade, Barbatus, Abelard I, Abelard II, Flandria, Caryatid and Project Riverside (see here)

Yet despite all the press coverage - and the publication of the Leveson Report in Nov 2012 - as recently as July 2013 Trevor Pearce (a director of the National Crime Agency and formerly Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), denied any knowledge of compromised witness protection:
As a law enforcement officer who has had some significant engagement with the undercover world and the protected persons’ world, I have not heard of that before.
Also unaware was MET Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations who when asked about the security and integrity of MET witness protection responded "we are not aware of anything in the Metropolitan Police of infiltration of witness protection."  (see here)


It was standard MET assertion to the Leveson Inquiry that Operation Caryatid (the investigation into phone hacking by Goodman and Mulcaire 06-07) was retained strictly within Andy Hayman's command - Specialist Operations (SO). But key aspects were in fact passed outside of SO, to the MET Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

The Leveson Report (Vol I) said:
The Report of the High Tech Crime Unit
On 23 November 2006, pursuant to a task set by DCS Surtees, the High Tech Crime Unit of the Directorate of Professional Standards at the MPS produced a report setting out the results of the examination of the computers and other storage media seized during the August searches...The investigating officers were concerned to discover that within the report were the details of people who had been given new identities as part of the witness protection programme... it gave rise to the possibility that police officers had been providing information to Mr Mulcaire...
DCS Surtees instructed DI Maberly to contact the witness protection unit, provide them with the list of names and ask them to take whatever action they considered necessary. When DI Maberly did so: “it quickly became apparent that contained within were names of interest to [the unit]." ... The report of the High Tech Crime Unit included the following statement: “It is also believed attempts may have been made to corrupt serving police officers and misuse the Police National Computer”.
So what of the role of the Directorate of Professional Standards in the 2006-07 investigation?

Standard practice in the MET is that the DPS should be informed of any intelligence that the security of a 'protected person' for their immediate attention:  "Investigating officers should contact the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) in all cases where protection measures have the potential to be frustrated because of the existence or suspicion of corruption within a Law Enforcement or Government Agency." p2 (here)

Yet, in the case of Operation Caryatid, the DPS took no known action.

The Leveson Report continues:
It is argued by the Core Participant Victims that the apparent failure to act on this adds to the impression that there were areas of investigation which were highly sensitive and which made the MPS unwilling to probe further. Although I understand the concern, it would not be appropriate for me to go further. Suffice to say, the current criminal investigation continues and my determination not to prejudice that investigation has meant that further detail has not been explored in the evidence. The points that I have made about the individual officers responsible for the conduct of Operation Caryatid are not affected and remain, even if there was some additional thread which could have been followed.
Given there was evidence from 2006 the highly sensitive witness protection programme had been breached, the DPS's inertia is disturbing.  But there was another opportunity for it to be re-visited in 2009 as a result of John Yates' quasi-review of Caryatid.  At the MET Commissioner's request, Yates (by then himself heading Specialist  Operations) believed he had the necessary objectivity for the task as he had not led the original 06-07 phone hacking investigation. Yates concluded there was no 'new' information. Technically, that may be accurate as the evidence regarding 'protected persons' was not 'new' as it had been seen by Specialist Operations, WPU (Witness Protection Unit) and DPS three years earlier.

Yates could, presumably, have been more diligent and asked questions about this sensitive evidence and the motivations for the lack of action by the DPS.  At the very least he should perhaps have challenged the senior officer who headed the MET portfolio which included the Directorate of Professional Standards in 2006-07.

That senior officer was Acting Assistant Commissioner JOHN YATES. (here)

Monday 3 February 2014

The Met - Upsetting The Apple Cart

From my regular contributor.

In October 1999, John Stevens, then Deputy Commissioner of the  Metropolitan Police (MET), gave a high profile address at the 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Durban.  His speech was entitled 'Integrity is not negotiable'. (here)

Of MET corruption he said,
Concerns were again raised about five years ago, when our criminal intelligence branch noted that several of our major crime operations had been compromised, and intelligence suggested that corruption had been a major factor. This gave an uncomfortable indication that organised crime had infiltrated our ranks.
We now realise that while we did deal with the "rotten apples", the approach did not destroy the tree from which they had been picked. This meant that a new batch of rotten apples could grow in another season.
Within a few months Stevens was appointed MET Commissioner, serving 2000-05.  With his 'rotten apples' speech heralding then a new era of integrity, how did his tenure of leadership leave the MET five years later?

When his successor Ian Blair took over in Jan '06, this was the MET Management Board that he inherited from  John Stevens:

It was reportedly a troubled Management Board - divisive, riven with rivalries, prone to press briefing against its own leader Commissioner Blair.  Striking too is just how many of outgoing Commissioner Stevens' 11-strong Management Board have had their professional lives touched in some way by the subsequent Hackgate scandals -  a total of seven (plus another senior officer about to join the Board)

Blair was appointed Commissioner in Dec 05. Blair's term of office coincided with the original phone hacking investigation into Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, Operation Caryatid ('06-07).  He resigned in 2008 as the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, openly expressed he had no confidence in Blair's Commissionership. Throughout, Blair is alleged to have been subject to adverse press criticism as a result of senior colleagues briefing against him.

Fedoriwas questioned closely at the Leveson Inquiry about leaks to the press from the MET Management Board - he denied being the source of the leaks.  Following Hackgate disclosues, Fedorcio resigned on the announcement that the Independent Police Complaints Commission were to instigate proceedings against him for gross misconduct. (here)

When Temporary Commissioner in Jan '11, following significant new information provided by News Corp's Management and Standards Committee, Tim Godwin authorised the start of Operation Weeting. Its focus was to investigate allegations of widespread voicemail interceptions by the News of the World.

2000-02 Hayman headed MET Anti-Corruption Command. 2005-07 he was Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO) responsible for counter-terrorism, royalty protection and allied matters. Under that remit, Hayman was in overall command of the controversial Operation Caryatid (phone hacking).  Hayman resigned in 2007. (see here)

House joined the MET as a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in 2001.  In 2005, he was appointed to Assistant Commissioner, first in Central Operations and then heading Specialist Crime Directorate.  In 2007 he took up post as Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police and, in October 2012, he was appointed as the first Chief Constable of Police Scotland.  As such, House is ultimately responsible for Strathclyde Police's ongoing Operation Rubicon.  It is the investigation into alleged perjury by News of the World staff regarding Tommy Sheridan, and the wider consideration of alleged hacking of Scots victims.

Tiplady was criticized by the Independent Police Complaints Commission following an IPCC investigation into the involvement of members of the MET Management Board in the employment of an immediate family member of a former News of the World executive. By the time of the IPCC Report in March '12 Martin Tiplady had resigned from the MET.  The critical Report said, "Despite Mr Tiplady’s claimed lack of direct involvement, the evidence suggests that the overall responsibility for this lack of adherence to policy rests with him. In a written response to the IPCC dated 6 February 2012 he accepted 'that it might be possible to criticise me for not ensuring that staff properly followed recruitment guidelines'. ”  (para 76 here)

[For absolute clarity, the Report made clear that there was no suggestion the relative of the News of the World executive in question, who assisted by meeting investigators and providing a statement, acted inappropriately in obtaining employment with the MET.]

Stephenson succeeded Ian Blair as MET Commissioner in 2008. In July '09, it was Commissioner Stephenson who tasked John Yates with establishing the facts surrounding the Guardian breaking the story of more widespread phone hacking than was evidenced by Operation Caryatid.  Stephenson resigned in July '11 "as a consequence of the ongoing speculation and accusations relating to the Met's links with News International at a senior level "

By mid 2007 the MET Management Board looked like this:

JOHN YATES had by now joined the Management Board.  Included in his portfolio was the Directorate of Professional Standards - motto 'Integrity is non-negotiable'.

[As an aside, Stephen Rimmer became Interim Chair of the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2013, at the time when SOCA was embroiled in controversy over Operation Millipede.]

TWO REPORTS - Spring 2006

Just as Ian Blair started his Commissionership, two key reports were authored - one very likely reached the Commissioner's desk, the other certainly did not.

The first was authored by JOHN YATES. Dated 31 January '06, It ran to "53 pages and 316 paragraphs", and comprised an assessment for the re-opening of investigations into the murder of Daniel Morgan (see here). "The MPA [Yates] report, as it has been called, went on, amongst other things, to make numerous criticisms of the first investigation into the murder, to refer to the loss of exhibits and exhibit books since that investigation and to point to deficiencies in the evidence obtained."  (pp36-37 here)

The second, dated April 2006, was submitted by an officer working on the phone-hacking enquiry, and it appears to have been withheld from Commissioner Blair. First reported by James Cusick and Cahil Milmo
in the Independent (Apr '12), they called it "a suppressed police-intelligence report which outlines allegations that a senior Met manager set out to cripple his own Commissioner...the report contains incendiary claims that the Met's eight-strong management board was 'compromised' – effectively no longer secure – with intelligence details from a reopened murder investigation being passed out of the Yard along with material reflecting a civil war inside the Met's upper echelons" (here)

The Evening Standard revisited the issue to add more detail (here):
The former commissioner first learned of the report when a whistleblower handed it to him in December 2011 at the height of the Leveson Inquiry.  When he learned that Met anti-corruption officers had intelligence to suggest his senior team had been compromised six years earlier yet told him nothing about it, Lord Blair visited Scotland Yard... Lord Blair, who led the Met between 2005 and 2008, asked his former colleagues to investigate the allegations, find out who knew about the security breach and discover why he was not told. 
This Evening Standard report by Tom Harper subsequently prompted questions to Sir Brian Leveson about his 'gagging' when he appeared before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in Oct '13.  (here)

Leveson was clearly unable or unwilling to be drawn on the issue of the MET allegedly serving a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate.

Nevertheless, his responses to relevant questions do reward closer scrutiny, particularly in light of an intriguing intervention from Chair of the CMS Select Committee, John Whittingdale
Q829 Tracey Crouch: The Evening Standard reported that a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner handed a very serious report to your inquiry...which the Met then claimed a public interest immunity over. This then prevented you from referring to it in public or considering it for the conclusions of your report...My understanding is that there was an application for public interest immunity for a particular document... given to you by a former senior police officer alleging corruption... a certificate was issued, which was reported in the Evening Standard, and that, as a consequence of that certificate, you were unable to consider it as part of your recommendations on the relationship between the police and the press. Of course, that is a matter that is of great interest.
Sir Brian Leveson: "I am sorry, this question has - [long pause]
Tracey Crouch: Flummoxed?
Sir Brian Leveson: No, that is not - "
John Whittingdale (Chair) then intervened, "Sir Brian, I begin to get nervous when we talk about matters that should be or could be the subject of criminal action. I rely on you as rather better informed than me to warn us if we are straying into areas we should not.
Q833 "Tracey Crouch: I will curb my questions on that matter... Given my previous question and given ongoing concerns, not to mention the Daniel Morgan case that you reference once in your report, do you think the Met Police were, in fact, the right police force to conduct the current operations into journalist activities?"
Sir Brian Leveson: "I am not going to comment on that. I do say, which reflects a little bit on your last question, that there were some relationships between the press and very senior officers of the Metropolitan Police of which I was critical, of which you will be aware.
I did not go into too much detail, for reasons that the Chairman has just identified.
The circumstances surrounding the revisiting of Operation Caryatid in 2009 and 2010 are analysed - again I use the adjective tedious - at great length in my report, and the circumstances of the reopening of the investigation in January 2011 are also identified. We are still seeing the consequences flow through the system."
So it might be that the fallout from Hackgate is not over.  John Stevens assertion in Durban in '99 that "while we did deal with the 'rotten apples' the approach did not destroy the tree from which they had been picked" may have been prescient.   His legacy in the form of the MET Management Board he bequeathed to his successor might yet be tested against his yardstick of integrity being non-negotiable.