London: In an unprecedented suggestion, a UK
inquiry in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal on Wednesday asked
police to avoid drinking alcohol with journalists, saying
"drinking loosens tongues".
The inquiry was set up last year in the wake of the
phone-hacking scandal, when it was revealed that some police
officers were too close to journalists, amidst suggestions
that information for use in news stories may have been traded
The inquiry, headed by Dame Elizabeth Filkin, a former
parliamentary standards commissioner, said the "close
relationship" between parts of Scotland Yard and the media had
caused "serious harm".
The report said information had previously been given to
journalists "inappropriately", which had "compromised" the way
police and the media scrutinised each other`s activities.
Dame Elizabeth said drinking alcohol with journalists
should be an "uncommon event" for police because "drinking
loosens tongues", and called for a new approach based on "more
extensive, open and impartial" provision of information to the
The report tells officers to "watch out" for "late-night
carousing, long sessions, yet another bottle of wine at lunch
- these are all long-standing media tactics to get you to
spill the beans. Avoid."
In the report, Dame Elizabeth added: "I recommend greater
openness in providing information to the public, much of which
will be through the media.
The two new roles which I suggest - public information
and integrity champions - will drive the change, making media
contact permissible but not unconditional. Unequivocal and
sustained leadership must be given."
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said
new rules for officers and their relationship with journalists
will be implemented.
He said: "There should be no more secret conversations.
There should be no more improper contact and by that
what I mean is between the police and the media - that which
is of a selfish, rather than a public interest.
Meetings will no longer be enhanced by hospitality
and alcohol. It doesn`t mean to say there will never be an
occasion when we take hospitality with journalists, but on the
whole, we wouldn`t expect to see it."