Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 03:30:34 AM EST
We've had a week of fun at the Leveson Inquiry, we're now onto the second module of part one which covers the interactions between the police and the press. The first section seemed to consist of heroes and villains, the innocent and their tormentors in the press and their victims. The second part has appeared to consist of villains on both sides of the argument. Dodgy reporters and corrupt cops, with the occasional stellar performance by the honest copper.
The big news this week has been all about a horse, although it should have been all about corruption between journalists and the Metropolitan Police. But this story's duck house is a horse called Raisa. And Raisa was a retired police horse who was placed with Rebekah Brooks. In less intense periods the fact that a newspaper editor whose husband owns a stable was looking after a retired police horse would go almost unremarked, but this isn't a normal time.
At the beginning of the week it seemed to be a momentary detail that would flutter away in the wind of details emerging from the Inquiry. Stories linking the senior echelons of News International to the apparent interference in the investigation of the axe-murder of a private investigator. But the horse story had legs. Firstly the press people at Number 10 were most evasive when pressed on whether David Cameron had ridden the horse. We knew that the prime minister had a history of riding out with Ms Brooks, Paul McMullen had talked about having hidden in a hedge to report on Cameron and Brooks riding together in the tape that Hugh Grant had recorded:
How Raisa the ex-police horse could come to symbolise the phone hacking scandal - Telegraph
Mr McMullan had told Grant: "Cameron went horse riding regularly with Rebekah. I know, because as well as door-stepping celebrities, I've also door-stepped my ex-boss by hiding in the bushes, waiting for her to come past with Cameron on a horse . . . before the election to show that - you know - Murdoch was backing Cameron."
After Three days we had this statement From Cameron at a press conference, which the media is taking as an admittance:
Note how the Prime Minister specifically doesn't deny going out riding with Rebekah, rather his entire denial is built around riding with her husband, it's all very carefully worded, and makes me think that if the press keeps pushing there's rather more to this story still to come out.
However all of these stories are very distracting and managed to distract the press from police and press appearing utterly corrupt, or utterly inept. (And sometimes both.) You have to think that the PR firms retained by the Met have earned their money and then some by managing to keep the media focussed on a knackered old horse rather than evidence that they weren't doing their jobs. In the middle of the week, the police put out a statement that when the horse had been returned to them, it had not been in a very good condition. You'd have to ask if this was fair, or rather was it a PR attack trying to make Ms Brooks look cruel to animals and hence make the Met look to be the good guys in the horse story.
Of course no story is complete without its own Downfall parody:
Strange coincidences and gangsters.
Could this story get any weirder, well someone reminded me yesterday of a seemingly unconnected detail. (Unfortunately I don't remember who so can't give them the appropriate praise.) Back in the year 2000 there was an on-going feud between two figures in the London Underworld. On the one hand we have "Mad" Frankie Fraser a famous 1960's gangster, and on the other side we have Dave Courtney another famous former villain. Now Frankie claims that Dave has both embellished his criminal career to improve his standing with the book-buying and movie-going public, and also claims that he is a police informant.
My disrespect for 'Dodgy' Dave is not confined to the fact that he was exposed as a 'grass' in open court, but it also extends to the nature of the case that put him in court.
The case was particularly nasty. A young mother involved in a custody battle with the father of the child was 'fitted-up' with a Class 1 drug by the father, a crooked policeman, a 'dodgy' private detective, and it was alleged Courtney.
The innocent mother of good character was arrested on a false charge based on 'planted' evidence, She was the put in a prison cell and arraigned in court. The dreadful stress this must have caused to this woman, and her family would have to be experienced to fully understand its depth, and all because of her love for her child.
The police responsible for refusing to accept what appeared an open and shut case deserve credit for instigating an undercover operation and proving the innocence of the young mother.
Now those of you following this Murdoch story might find that detail somewhat familiar, the dodgy private investigator is one Johnathan Rees with close links to Andy Coulson who worked for the News of the World both at the time he was arrested for this action, and was re-employed after he came out of prison, something that Andy Coulson, ex-editor of the News of the World, and later David Cameron's press secretary signed off on.
Now I say strange coincidence, because Frankie writes this outrage because this has come to light as the trial is a detail in a TV program about "Celebrity villain" Courtney. The TV program is made for a UK firm called Carlton TV and their Director of Corporate Affairs at the time was one David Cameron.
Is there more to this? And is this what the editor of the Times was hinting at with his story about the cleaner in his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry? Private Eye has said that the person detailed in that story, although unnamed in evidence, is Cameron, so was it another jigsaw piece that is a step towards linking Dave to Villains and Murderers if he doesn't back off?
Only Dave knows.