After the police killed Ian Tomlinson in April 2009 they put out a string of lies to try to get away with it. They claimed to have had 'no contact' with Tomlinson, that their officers tried to revive him whilst protesters threw a hail of bottles (in fact protesters tried to get an ambulance for him whilst the police refused to speak to medical staff). They had a dodgy autopsy done saying it was all natural causes. They had the 'Independent' Police Complaints Commission say there was no CCTV in the area, and after people published photos of the cameras they amended that to say they 'weren't working'.
And they did almost get away with it. Then the Guardian published the footage of the police assault. The response was to go round to the Guardian's offices and (glove puppeting an IPCC official) tell them to take it off the website. Anything to keep themselves in the clear.
Yesterday the head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, resigned because of the phone hacking scandal (and Assistant Commissioner John Yates looks set to follow today). Like a thousand guilty coppers before him, he knows if you resign there's no real investigation and you keep your pension.
Press reports made much of the fact that Stephenson had a £12,000 stay in a health spa that the owners had 'forgotten' to give him a bill for. It's easily done, my workplace is always doing twelve grand's worth of work for a solitary client and then and absent mindedly neglecting to ask for payment. And a copper taking a massive freebie is in no way suspicious at all.
The spa and the Met both employed Neil Wallis, ex-Deputy Editor of News Of The World, to do their PR. Both sides say this is a coincidence and they didn't know about it. Stephenson now says the real reason was that he should have told the Prime Minister that Wallis was implicated in the phone hacking scandal.
However, it's interesting that the resignations comes less than 48 hours after it was revealed that the toppest of the Met's top brass, including Stephenson himself, made not one but two intimidating visits to the Guardian to tell them that their coverage of the hacking scandal was exaggerated. They particularly disliked the claims that the police were in any way colluding in the hacking.
These visits came two months after they started employing Wallis. If they didn't know Wallis was implicated, and if they didn't know the full extent of the hacking and the police's integral part in it, then it's a bit of a coincidence and pretty poor detective work (especially for professional investigators). From here, it looks very like the same tactics used on the same newspaper to cover their guilt on the killing of Ian Tomlison.
Resignation is no substitute for prosecution and conviction. It's time for the police to start arresting one another.
The Times - a Murdoch paper glad of an opportunity to deflect blame - says today
Journalists who bribe policemen are indicative of a flawed industry. Policemen who can be bribed are indicative of a flawed state.
This is true, but ignores the fact that the media barons, politicians and police are all prongs on the same fork. They share the same aims and values, and seek to maintain the same powers for one another.
And, just as the police response to the final damburst of information about the Mark Kennedy/Ratcliffe affair was to throw some blame on to the Crown Prosecution Service, so Stephenson has lost no time in waving an accusatory finger at David Cameron. He points out that the Met's man Wallis had left the News of The World without a hint of impropriety, whereas Cameron's man Coulson - Wallis' boss - had been forced to resign because of the phone hacking scandal. The implication is that if Stephenson had to go, it counts doubly for Cameron.
We can dream, can't we? They didn't imprison Al Capone for the Valentines Day Massacre, they finally got him in jail for tax evasion. By the same token, I want to see Coulson go down, not for the phone hacking but for getting Cameron into power. But like the feds with Capone, I'll take whatever I can get.
That said, if there's one thing this last week has taught us it's that we can't tell what's coming. This story is *still* gathering pace and is finally beginning to properly bring the Tories and police into it.
Even if it doesn't bring Cameron down, it can certainly be his Dodgy Dossier moment, the point at which the wider public consciously understands that the leader is a duplicitous scumfuck and that the real power is held by a shady swarm of evil people around him whose names we don't know.