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
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
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