Public Affairs, the movie: three gang theory in action

Here’s the funny bit in this post:

OK, that done, a senior detective has been found guilty of leaking the phone-hacking investigation to the NoTW. This is the nut of the matter:

Casburn, who was manager of the national financial investigation unit with counterterrorism, claimed she had never asked for money when she telephoned the News of the World on 11 September 2010. She said she made the call because she was concerned that resources from counter-terrorism and her unit were to be diverted into a new phone-hacking investigation.

To put it another way, someone in the counter-terrorism command leaked to (effectively) a suspect, in the hope that the suspect would use their political influence to direct more police resources into the counter-terrorism command and not incidentally, away from an investigation into their own crime. The key evidence is a NoTW reporter’s notes of the conversation, summarised in an e-mail apparently recovered from Data Pool 3:

“PHONE TAPPING. A senior policewoman … who claims to be working on the phone-tapping investigation wants to sell inside info on the police inquiry. She says the investigation was launched yesterday (Fri) by Yates and he is using ‘counter-terrorist assets’, which is highly unusual. An intelligence development team is being used and they are looking at six people. Coulson, Hoare and a woman she cannot remember the name of. The three other people used to work for the News of the World and police do not know where they are now (she did not know their names either). Pressure to conduct the inquiry is coming from Lord Prescott.”

It’s interesting that the conversation was framed specifically in political terms, that she apparently named the individual suspects, and that the names included Sean Hoare’s. It’s also worth looking at this in the light of the timeline – in September 2010, there was a major push on by top management to destroy incriminating e-mail, in a race between their IT outsourcers’ funk at the thought of it and Sienna Miller’s lawyers. Knowing who was targeted meant knowing what to get rid of.

Among much else, deploying three-gang theory, this demonstrates the degree to which the police used the press to manipulate politics, and also the degree of influence the NoTW was thought by policemen to have over the police. It was simultaneously an effort by part of the police to influence their own institution, and by the NoTW to influence the police.

Another way to look at this is that the police side helped the Murdoch side’s effort to keep Andy Coulson in place, in exchange for the NoTW helping keep up the fear-level on terrorism and therefore protect their budget. I have pointed out before that Neil Wallis was recruited by Dick Fedorcio in part to influence the politicians on behalf of the Met.

If anyone still needs convincing of the importance of the whole thing, well, this really ought to do it.

Meanwhile, I saw Chinatown on Thursday night, a great movie to see for the first time, and I note that there is a plot twist that got imitated in reality by the Murdoch gang; Jake Gittis places the head of Water & Power under surveillance, photographs him repeatedly meeting the same woman…but as it turns out, she’s not the one he’s looking for, and in a sense, he’s in the wrong movie. Similarly, Alex Marunchak set Jonathan Rees to follow DCI Dave Cook, and Rebekah Brooks told Andre Baker that he did it to find out who the woman he kept seeing was. She turned out, of course, to be his wife. My reading, at least, is that the same thing happened in Chinatown or is at least planted as a false trail.

Obviously if you were to cast Public Affairs (Chinatown‘s working title was supposedly just Water & Power but was changed late in the day in case the public didn’t get the joke), Hugh Grant would play himself, but most of the cast would be wasted on the character of Andy Coulson, and Jack Nicholson as Tom Watson would be silly (although the Brummie accent’s a keeper). That said, Faye Dunaway as Rebekah Brooks would be worth staying up for. Although, who do we cast for the various bloggers? Abby Lee, there’s a role to kill for.

Unfortunately or fortunately, the ending wouldn’t be as unremittingly grim, although the original takes a different complexion when you remember that John Huston’s character has taken a gunshot wound to the stomach in the pre-antibiotic era and is therefore probably going to die horribly in the next few days.

3 Comments on "Public Affairs, the movie: three gang theory in action"

  1. I agree that this story is significant. One way or another, the police appear to have managed to keep News International quite well-informed about investigations into phone-hacking. At one stage the Ginger Menace herself was interviewed as a potential victim, thus letting her (and NI) know that some potential victims were being interviewed and there was an investigation. Why many other potential victims were not interviewed has not been satisfactorily explained. Why a potential victim who was close to the suspects was interviewed has not been satisfactorily explained. I’m not going to be shocked if it turns out that the Ginger Menace’s phone wasn’t hacked after all.

    The problem with calling this the “three gang theory” is that it underplays the way that they were in and out of each other’s houses all day long.


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