13 February 2012

Do as I Say, Not as I Do.... (with update 14/2/2012)

In defence of The Sun, Trevor Kavanagh, Associate Editor, wrote this article in today's paper: 

This Witch Hunt Has Put Us Behind Ex-Soviet States on Press Freedom - Trevor Kavanagh - the Sun

It is a piece positively dripping with righteous indignation that the police should have had the temerity to enter the homes of five of his journalists to arrest them and conduct searches:

Witch-hunt has put us behind
ex-Soviet states
on Press freedom

The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh on
the biggest police operation
in British criminal history 

'They are subjects of the biggest police operation in British criminal history — bigger even than the Pan Am Lockerbie murder probe.
Major crime investigations are on hold as 171 police are drafted in to run three separate operations.
In one raid, two officers revealed they had been pulled off an elite 11-man anti-terror squad trying to protect the Olympics from a mass suicide attack.
Instead of being called in for questioning, 30 journalists have been needlessly dragged from their beds in dawn raids, arrested and held in police cells while their homes are ransacked.'

Anyone remotely familiar with the Sun's penchant for hyperbole and misplaced outrage will instantly recognise the style. Hurt, he is. Mr. Kavanagh is deeply hurt. He continues: 

'Wives and children have been humiliated as up to 20 officers at a time rip up floorboards and sift through intimate possessions, love letters and entirely private documents.'
That, Mr. Kavanagh, is the traditional modus operandi for the police when making surprise visits to premises where material may be found to substantiate documents they have already had provided to them - in this case by the Sun's parent company, News International. Mr. Kavanagh should be welll aware of these tactics - after all, whose paper has been known to arrive at premises about to be raided almost at the same moment as the Police?

From the Telegraph, 1st February 2012:

'Giving evidence in his defence on day eight of the trial, the Tottenham Hotspur manager said that the 6am police raid, in November 2007, was conducted while he was away.
He was actually returning from a match in Germany, and police at his house were accompanied by photographers from The Sun.
“It absolutely terrified my wife, who was there on her own. My wife was in a terrible state. They jammed the alarm on. She thought there was burglars and she was hysterical,” Redknapp said.
“Eventually she opened the gates and police came in with photographers alongside them. My wife thought I had been killed in a plane crash... there were pictures of my wife and house.”
Redknapp said he had never received an explanation why photographers were tipped off about the raid.

Seeking to persuade his readers of the enormous injustice done to his staff and to encourage the Sun's emotions of choice, rage and fury, Mr Kavanagh changes tack slightly to appeal to our more moral sensitivities (undoubtedly inculcated in us by the Sun over the years) thus:

'It is important that we do not jump to conclusions. 
Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted.'
That exhortation will have caused many a reader to choke on their morning tea or coffee. After all, this is this morning's Sun front page:

The Sun has decided, without the luxury of a copy of the post-mortem (not yet underway and some toxicology results not expected for weeks) that they can confidently pronounce cause of death - in a particularly judgemental way.

Mr. Kavanagh adds an interesting piece of data to his evidence of draconian treatment of his staff:
'Is it any surprise that Britain has dropped nine places to 28th, behind ex-Soviet bloc states Poland, Estonia and Slovakia, in the international Freedom of Speech league table?'
The table mentioned by Mr. Kavanagh can be found here in the Mail Online. Fascinating stuff! Britain 28th in a Reporters Without Borders (RWB) table of 179 countries...... What is extremely interesting is that of the 27 countries above Great Britain,

1. Finland and Norway
3. Estonia and the Netherlands
5. Austria
6. Iceland and Luxembourg
8. Switzerland
9. Cape Verde
10. Canada and Denmark
12. Sweden
13. New Zealand
14. Czech Republic
15. Ireland
16. Cyprus, Jamaica and Germany
19. Costa Rica
20. Belgium and Namibia
22. Japan and Surinam
24. Poland
25. Mali, OECS and Slovakia
28. United Kingdom

The Criteria used by the RWB to rank all countries are as follows:
  • Reporters Without Borders considers the number of journalists murdered, expelled or harassed, and the existence of a state monopoly on TV and radio, as well as the existence of censorship and self-censorship in the media, and the overall independence of media as well as the difficulties that foreign reporters may face.
So, in all honesty, not a league table which backs up Mr. Kavanagh's gripe about the British press' being on the brink of losing its freedom! Pity really, it was a particularly clever attempt to pull the wool over his readers' eyes!

Also fascinating is the fact that none of the countries higher than Britain in the RWB's table have a single Murdoch - owned paper to call their own.....

As well as Penning the heart-rending article in today's Sun, Mr. Kavanagh has been flitting, heavy of heart no doubt, from studio to studio seeking ears to listen to his lament. Here's a recording of one such from BBC Radio 4's World at One: -

Trevor Kavanagh on police investigation into the Sun (mp3)

Update: Statement from the Metropolitan Police in reply to Mr. Kavanagh's article:

Monday, 13th February 2012
The linked Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta are extremely difficult and complex with literally millions of pieces of documentation needing to be scrutinised and examined.
Given the seriousness of the allegations currently under investigation and the significant number of victims, the MPS does not believe that the level of resources devoted to the three inquiries is in any way disproportionate to the enormous task in hand.
There are 169 officers and staff currently deployed to the three linked investigations. Of these, 91 officers and staff are deployed to Operation Weeting; 61 to Operation Elveden; and 16 to Operation Tuleta with a Detective Chief Superintendent overseeing the three investigations. These resources are constantly reviewed and where they relate to corrupt payments to police officers the IPCC have oversight.
The majority have come from Specialist Crime; Territorial Policing and the Directorate of Professional Standards. At no stage has any major investigation been compromised as a result of these deployments.
Saturday's Operation Elveden arrests were as a result of information provided to officers by News Corporation's Management Standards Committee.
We would like to make it clear that no more than ten MPS officers attended each of the home addresses of the persons arrested as part of Operation Elveden on Saturday, 11 February. It should be noted that several officers are needed for the thorough and efficient search of an address, including, where appropriate, specialist search teams.