Monday, January 24, 2011

Operation Caryatid

With the resignation of Andrew Coulson over alleged "phone hacking" at the News of the World during his editorship of the paper, political and media attention is now turning to the Metropolitan Police investigation of the case ( for example see Here )

During the trial of Tommy Sheridan, the High Court of Glasgow heard testimony from the Senior Investigating Officer on the inquiry, Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Williams. Given the interest in this issue we thought readers would be interested in a summary of DCS Williams' evidence in response to questions from Mr Sheridan, who was representing himself

For background Mr Sheridan was exploring the issue as his name and details had been found in a notebook belonging to Glen Mulcaire, who was later convicted for illegally accessing voicemails,. Mr Mulcaire was later cited as a witness in the case but was excused due to illness.

Detective Chief Superintendent Williams told the court that Operation Caryatid, the police code name for the inquiry, was launched after a complaint had been received from the "Royal Household" in December 2005. Despite a long investigation however the only evidence that "reached the level of proof" was that there was only "one victim" who DCS Williams named as James Pinkerton, a "private secretary in the Royal Household."

DCS Williams was then  asked if he he knew of any involvement in the offence beyond Glen Mulcaire (a private investigator) and Clive Goodman (the Royal editor of the News of the World) He stated he was "not aware" of any.

Asked about Mr Mulcaire's relationship with the News of the World, DCS Williams replied "he was paid by them, that's all I know"

DCS Williams denied a suggestion that he had "taken direction on who to focus on" during the investigation from the Crown Prosecution Service, but had taken advice from them due to the "complexity of the law" in this area.

DCS Williams agreed that 2978 telephone numbers had been recovered from Mr Mulcaire's notebooks but told the court "the mere presence of a name and address does not mean anything unlawful has gone on." adding that this had also been the view of the Crown Prosecution Service when they had reviewed the case last year.

The witness confirmed that the police investigation had recovered the contract between Mr Mulcaire and the News of the World, and when asked if this "was worth £105,000 per annum" replied that this "sounds like the right amount." Asked if the contract had been signed on behalf of the News of the World by Greg Miskiw responded "that sounds right"

DCS Williams confirmed that the inquiry had not questioned Mr Miskiw as he believed he "would have no legal basis to arrest or interview" him. The investigating officers also did not question Andrew Coulson, then editor of the News of the World. DCS Williams also told the court that Mr Goodman had "refused to answer" any questions from the police. The inquiry had also asked solicitors for the News of the World for any relevant information but were told this could not be provided as "they did not have it."

DCS Williams had not sought a "court order" as the News of the World had cooperated he was "not entitled to get a court order." Asked if the solicitors for the News of the World had had been cooperative, DCS Williams replied he had "no reason to think otherwise and had been advised by a Queens Council and the Crown Prosecution Service over the process he had followed. The witness added that he had asked questions of the News of the World's solicitors and had been told that no relevant documents existed. DCS Williams told the court that he had "no reason to doubt the solicitors."

DCS Williams concluded his testimony by stating that he had found "no evidence of a conspiracy at the News of the World." at denied a suggestions that he had treated the newspaper or it's executives with "kid gloves."

Our full reports on DCS Williams' testimony can be found Here and Here


Anonymous said...

The only reason the Met failed to investigate phonehacking was that noone wanted to go undercover and shag Andy Coulson.

(via @davidschneider )

Anonymous said...

ney luck tommy

Susan Boyle has been named 2010 Scot of the Year by a landslide margin.

The singer, who became a household name after her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, scooped 95% of votes cast for the award, organised by London-based charity ScotsCare.

Boyle was recently nominated for a Grammy, while her second album The Gift enjoyed phenomenal success on both sides of the Atlantic, going to number one in both the UK and the USA.

The charity poll made headlines last week when it emerged convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan was in the running.

In the end, the former MSP - who will be sentenced on Wednesday - finished second with 3% of the vote, with Star Wars actor Ewan McGregor coming third.

Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, was fourth, while Andy Robinson - the English coach of the Scottish rugby team - made up the top five.

Sheridan was nominated "for showing his fighting spirit". He was named as one of 12 original finalists of the annual contest at the beginning of December while his trial was ongoing.

The disgraced politician made the shortlist after suggestions from supporters of the charity and people who the charity helps. Following his conviction at the High Court in Glasgow last month, judge Lord Bracadale told Sheridan to expect a prison term.

ScotsCare help Scottish people in the London area with issues such as employment. The group also assist elderly people and the homeless, and hold regular lunches and events to build a ‘Scottish community’ in one of the world’s largest cities.

Last year’s winner was actor Gerard Butler. Gordon Brown and Sir Chris Hoy have also picked up the award.

Avid Reader said...

Fascinating stuff James. Thanks for keeping us up to date, and for the reminders of testimony given by people involved in the News of the World and Operation Carytid. (Where do they get these names from?)

I'm sure there is much more to come out about the whole business, and I wonder if these witnesses will come to regret their testimony in the Sheridan Trial.

Well done to The Guardian for sticking with the story. And to you for the excellent blog and very relevant extracts.

Denizen said...

A Caryatid is a stone figure - that supports an architectural element eg an overhanging porch roof. Maidens as in the Erichtheion in Athens. Atlas as in that porch next to the entrance to Frazer's on Argyll Street.

I know: I deserve the award for nerd of the year.

I can't help thinking that there is a classical student in the Met - a Nigel stuck in a tiny windowless office in Scotland Yard - who thinks these things up because they have some significance. This may be nothing more than that the old newspaper offices in Fleet Street had Caryatids all over them. I prefer the idea that the Met is the Caryatid. It is holding up the whole bloody construction of lies from falling in on News International.

Hope all are putting starch on their upper lips. There's nothing left but to show grace in the face of adversity.

Anonymous said...

still does not change the real facts.

yulefae said...

Do you think Coulson could be dubbed up wae Tommy?

paw said...

Less than a couple of days now, James, and we can forget this "lifestyle" stuff.

On Wednesday we'll hear, I suppose;

- Sheridan's plea for a lenient sentence. I can hardly imagine him delivering this in the right tone. I do hope he lets his lawyer do this.

-Lord Bracadale delivering the sentence of X years.

-Uproar and protests about the harsh sentence of X years.

-Justification of X. It could have been X+2, even X*2.


And we'll get to hear what James Doleman concludes from having sat through the whole of this long trial.

I hope you get a good sleep and get there early. There might be a long queue for seats!

Good Luck James. Looking forward to your report on real events in court again.

CB said...

Or even X^2.

Avid Reader said...

Denizen said

"I prefer the idea that the Met is the Caryatid. It is holding up the whole bloody construction of lies from falling in on News International."

A nerd with interesting information and a good line in irony and humour! Can't be bad. Thanks for the comment.

James Doleman said...

I should have mentioned that DCS Williams was asked why the operations was named Caryatid and told the court that names are chosen at random.

Anonymous said...

is it true the Judge is closing the court for sentencing? No public or cameras?

Anonymous said...

Is it Glasgow or Edinburgh the papers are living conflicting venues.

James Doleman said...

Hello Anon 1, As far as I am aware the court is open to the public, there will be no cameras as those are never allowed.

Anon2, sentencing was originally to be held in Edinburgh but has now been moved to Glasgow High Court.

Best Regards


Say It Ain't So Joe said...

I am not sure if the judge is empowered to close the court even if he wanted to. Justice being seen to be done means that proceedings should be dealt with in open court with the public permitted to attend. Certain types of business are taken in 'chambers' but I am not aware that a sentencing diet ever would be.
Photography/recording is generally not permitted of live court proceedings and, indeed, I know of one Sheriff who even frowns on taking photographs of their court empty and without any proceedings taking place. That said BBC have experimented a couple of times with footage of proceedings which I can only assume took place with authority from the very top and consent/agreement of all parties. The last time they were showing proceedings in the Glasgow Domestic Offenders court if I recall correctly.

Peter said...

Just a note - the particular sentencing possibilities that are implicitly referred to on this site (and explicitly referred to in various Scottish and UK newspapers) are not comprehensive.

There is a certain frothing at the mouth in parts of the media against Sheridan when it comes to this matter.

Despite what they say other options are available.

I will not say here what they are to ensure that there is no breach of site policy.

In my opinion some of those alternative options, especially in light of the startling new evidence that has been revealed since the verdict, are appropriate for consideration at least.

In light of the fast developing enquiries (including the now extended CPS and ICO enquiry) that now overlap with this case those options may be presented for consideration by the defence.

They may choose not to of course but if they were it would be reasonable in my view.



Critical-eye said...

To date, there is no evidence that TS's phone was hacked. Certainly, none was presented in Court.

However, there is one possibility.

Robert Peston has reported that the NOTW strategy includes making substantial payments to those who have been hacked.

Now the NOTW will almost certainly win its appeal in the libel case, and be awarded costs reported to be £500,000 against TS. So if evidence emerges that TS's phone was hacked, the NOTW could pay him, say, £100,000, which could then be set against the legal costs.

It seems not a bad deal for the NOTW, since the NOTW will probably never see most of the £500,000 in any case.

Anonymous said...

Could someone explain to me, why - even if the NOTW are guilty of phone hacking - this should have any bearing on whether or not TS committed perjury, and why it should have any bearing on the sentence passed?

CB said...

Critical Eye

Was the phone hacking an example of the left wing tendency to infringe the law?

Allegations have been made of payments by newspapers to police officers in return for personal information about individuals. Do you exclude the possibility of this on the grounds that such law breaking is the preserve of the left?

Say It Ain't Joe said...

That's the rub Anon 2.16 p.m. Whilst there has been much said since 23rd December nothing in the nature of 'startling new evidence' has been which should colour the jury's verdict in any way.

I agree with Peter (it had to happen some time) that it would be sensible for the court to give full consideration to non-custodial, community based disposals. As a general point a court can, however , only impose a Probation Order where the offender appearing before it indicates that they are willing to address their offending behaviour as part of the order.

When faced with an offender whose position is 'wisnae me', 'the verdict's a joke' or 'It's not a crime anyway' the court's options become somewhat limited.

Much will depend on what is before the court tomorrow in the form of background reports and what is said in any plea-in-mitigation.

It remains my hope that Mr Sheridan plays a safety-first strategy of getting Counsel to deliver the plea-in-mitigation. The stakes are clearly high and the right words said in the right way could have a profoundly positive effect.

yulefae said...

Am off to Cyprus tomos so will miss the hulabaloo,but in all honesty i want ts to be given a fair crack of the whip,pardon the pun.

As peter said the papers seem to think they are right as usual,there are allsorts of disposals at LB,S disposal,maybe a seat at holyrood,wake the place up.

It was just last week they Murdoch Machine had the landlord in the JO case guilty

Sarcastic Alexander said...


Don't come on here with your logical line of questioning. A News of the World journalist was jailed for being involved in the hacking of Prince William's phone. How, then, can Tommy Sheridan be guilty of perjury?
Really, some people.

yulefae said...

Say It Ain't Joe said...

When faced with an offender whose position is 'wisnae me', 'the verdict's a joke' or 'It's not a crime anyway' the court's options become somewhat limited

Am i,m missing something?
a,ve not heard or read a stastement from TS saying this,a think you will need to wait to here his plea in mit first to suggest he is going down that road

Anonymous said...

@ Paw - as far as I am aware Sheridan has no legal representative to address the court on his behalf.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 - Ignore what the papers say - it's definitely Glasgow.

Anonymous said...

Aye, it's a gamble for a hypothetical convicted person:

1. 'Fess up and there is the chance of leaving by the front door with your loving wife and off home to your wee girl

2. Maintain your "innocence" and most likely receive porridge.


3. ' Fess up and STILL leave by the back door.

What a tough one to call!

Say It Ain't So Joe said...

Re 4.40. That's right.
I was speaking in hypothetical terms.
Certain things have to be said in certain ways so as to nudge the court towards a particular disposal. That needs to be done in any case where the offender's continued liberty is in the hands of the court.
I don't know what Tommy Sheridan's p-i-m is going to say but yes, I ventured that if certain lines were to be over-emphasised in the p-i-m then the hands of the court could be tied a bit.

To emphasise what I have said before - I don't think that if the court stops short of custody then justice would not be served.

Not sure if this will appear at all but I hope that I have clarified that I don't know what TS will say. I do have a view on what he ought not though...

Surreptitious Evil said...

TS appeared, from my limited exposure to what he said, to be making a parallel non-legally-specific case to the jury that basically amounted to "they've all got it infamy". In that context, both the phone-hacking and the apparent limitations of the police investigation are significant.

What they don't actually amount to is evidence that what TS said, on affirmation, in the libel trial was what he believed to be true. But, if the jury believe you to be innocent (in the face of the evidence) or sufficiently hard-done-to that they are willing to go for the long-honoured route of a perverse acquital then that is a reasonable strategy.

Or, of course, he could honestly believe that "the Man" is so frightened by the charisma of TS ex-MSP, that there is a huge conspiracy to bring him down. Involving the SSP, NI, the Met, L&B and the Procurator Fiscal. Not to mention TS himself, who chose to bring the libel case.

Say It Ain't So Joe said...

Following the p-i-m on Twitter.Amazing.

It sounds like he's on his game and has swotted up on comparatives- credit to the man for that.

Not much time seems to have been spent on recommendations arising from the Social Enquiry Report bar that he's 'low-risk' of re-offending. The judge may have more to say on that??