Too much police-press gossip: Britain`s ex-top cop
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Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2012, 23:18
London: Too much gossip between senior police officials and the press has led to breaches in confidentiality, the former head of Scotland Yard said on Monoday.

Paul Stephenson, who resigned last year over his force's failure to get to grips with the phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News International, testified that relations between a small number of police managers and the media were closer than necessary.

"There was a little too much gossipping about things that ought to have been confidential," he told a judge-led enquiry which is sifting through the scandal's fallout. He called the leaks "hugely distracting" and "unprofessional."

Stephenson didn't go into detail, but his comments are the latest to underline the often close and sometimes intimate relations between Britain's national press and its biggest police force.

Senior Scotland Yard official Sue Akers testified last week that journalists paid tens of thousands of pounds' worth of bribes to serving police officers, and Stephenson's former deputy, John Yates, was thrown onto the defencive Thursday after it was revealed that he'd shared Champagne with one of the many journalists who are now suspects in the scandal.

Elizabeth Filkin, who was commissioned by Scotland Yard to review its relationship with the press, testified that the problems also extended to freebies, noting that some senior officers had received a "very large" number of sports tickets from journalists.

Asked which media organisations were the most generous, she said: "There was certainly a lot of hospitality given by News International newspapers."

The scandal over the systematic interception of voice-mails has rocked Britain's establishment, leading to the arrest or resignation of dozens of reporters, public officials, and News International executives.

The saga has laid bare the overlapping links between the press, police, and politicians links which critics say nearly allowed Murdoch's British newspaper company to get away with years of wrongdoing.


First Published: Monday, March 05, 2012, 23:18

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