Following up my story yesterday (HERE) on the scandalous conduct of many of our national newspapers and journalists I can now exclusively reveal the contents of a report to be submitted to Parliament tomorrow by the Information Commissioner, which outlines the extent to which our national newspapers - and their journalists - are breaking the law to obtain confidential information illegally.
1. Daily Mail - 952 incidents by 58 different journalists
2. Sunday People - 802 incidents by 50 different journalists
3. Daily Mirror - 681 incidents by 45 different journalists
4. Mail on Sunday - 266 incidents by 33 different journalists
5. News of the World - 182 different incidents by 19 different journalists
Yesterday on Lord Ashcroft.com it was revealed through a Freedom of Information request that 305 different journalists had been identified during Operation Motorman as using one particular agency to obtain confidential information like telephone records, bank account details and medical records.
I can reveal that following this FOI request from Lord Ashcroft the Information Commissioner has decided that the disclosure of further information is in the public interest and will now be submitting a special report to Parliament tomorrow.
From the 'league table' figures above it would seem that the Daily Mail and the Sunday People are the chief miscreants here. However, it's not quite so simple. Virtually all newspapers used the agency in Hampshire which was raided during Operation Motorman, but we all know there are other similar agencies. So this is clearly the one which was most used by the Mail, but there are no doubt others which its rivals use, possibly just as often.
There are several questions arising from this. If the authorities know the details of which newspapers use these agencies to break the law on their behalf, and if the agencies know which journalists have engaged their services, why are they not all joining News of the World reporter Clive Goodman in the dock this week? Goodman was caught out (and has pleaded guilty) intercepting mobile phone calls of the rich and famous, in particular the Royal Family.
So far as I am aware no charges have been laid against any newspaper or journalist. I am no lawyer and I do not know what the charges would be, but after the report is laid before Parliament tomorrow, do not be surprised if there are some fairly serious repercussions. After all, the Information Commissioner is pressing for a two year jail sentence for any journalist or editor caught soliciting illegal information of this sort.
To me this is a huge story, but for obvious reasons I do not expect to read about it in our national newspapers tomorrow. It is therefore important that the Blogosphere does a viral marketing job on this story and transmits it as widely as possible. Go to it!
UPDATE: The Telegraph are covering this story on their website HERE.