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Operation Weeting

March 7, 2012 by staff 

Operation Weeting, Operation Weeting is a British police investigation that commenced on 26 January 2011, under the Specialist Crime Directorate of the Metropolitan Police Service into allegations of phone hacking in the News of the World phone hacking affair. The operation is being conducted alongside Operation Elveden, an investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to the police by those involved with phone hacking, and Operation Tuleta, an investigation into alleged computer hacking for the News of the World. All three operations are led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, Head of Organised Crime & Criminal Networks within the Specialist Crime Directorate.
In August 2006, the News of the World’s royal editor, Clive Goodman and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, were arrested by the Metropolitan Police, and later charged with hacking the telephones of members of the royal family by accessing voicemail messages, an offence under section 79 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. On 26 January 2007, both Goodman and Mulcaire pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to four and six months imprisonment respectively. On the same day, it was announced that Andy Coulson had resigned as editor of the News of the World. In 2007, that appeared to be the end of the News of the World royal phone hacking scandal.

In July 2009, The Guardian newspaper published a series of allegations that a culture of phone hacking went far beyond the single case of Goodman and Mulcaire’s hacking of the royal household. It was alleged that a much wider range of people across different areas of public life, including the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, the Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, politicians Tessa Jowell and Boris Johnson, publicist Max Clifford and even Rebekah Brooks, then editor of the News of the World’s sister paper The Sun. had been the victim of hacking ordered by the News of the World. The News of the World and its parent News Corporation strongly denied the allegations, and called on The Guardian to share any evidence it had with the police. In the wake of the allegations, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Stephenson asked the force’s Assistant Commissioner John Yates to review the original 2006 investigation in the light of any new evidence, with regards to potentially reopening the investigation. In a single 8-hour meeting, Yates decided not to take any further action.

In the wake of the police deciding not to instigate legal proceedings, several public figures who had allegedly been hacked began litigation proceedings against the News of the World’s owner News International, and against the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Those who began legal action included the football agent Sky Andrew, actress Sienna Miller, actor Steve Coogan, television presenter Chris Tarrant and football pundit Andy Gray. In the course of one of these litigation proceedings, that brought by Sienna Miller, papers lodged in the High Court suggested that Ian Edmondson, a senior editor at the News of the World, was involved in work undertaken by Mulcaire. In the wake of this new evidence, News International group general manager Will Lewis was tasked with reviewing any documents relating to the 2006 Goodman case within the company’s records and files. This review led Lewis to also re-examine all documents held by the legal firm Harbottle & Lewis, who had defended News International against an unfair dismissal case brought by Clive Goodman in 2007, in which he discovered questionable material. Lewis passed this material to a second legal firm, Hickman Rose, who in turn asked the former Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald to examine the evidence and report his findings to the News International board. Macdonald’s report found evidence of indirect hacking, breaches of national security and serious crime, which led Macdonald to recommend that the company immediately refer the matter to the police; News International did.

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