Not just the newspapers that were hacking? Could lawyers have been at it too? No way...

If it is a crime to pay an official to release information, as in Murdoch, why is it not a crime to pay an official to conceal it, as in NHS?

by Robin Mitchinson on 31 July 2013 13:38

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The point of Leveson was to stitch-up the Dirty Digger (unflatteringly, aka Rupert Murdoch), not to open a large can of wriggly things that would lead to an even bigger scandal. But the word has been on the street for quite a long time that hacking by newspapers was the tip of a very dirty iceberg.

It now transpires that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has a dossier containing the names of 102 suspects – lawyers, banks, insurers, and wealthy individuals amongst them.

Amongst the suspects are 20 law firms (what we once called ’solicitors' practices’ when the law was a profession instead of a trade). Getting a peep at the case for the other side or insider knowledge of its assets could be highly profitable. It could also get a solicitor struck off; but the dodge would be to get information at extreme arm’s length by contracting-out the funny business to agents who would then employ the private eye.

It is said that a number of blue-chip companies are involved. Advance knowledge of a competitor’s financial performance or the attitude of individual directors to a take-over bid, for example, could be highly profitable.

It is not only phone-hacking and waylaying e-mails. CRO information has been harvested also. So who are the prime suspects?

SOCA has given the list to the Home Affairs Committee, but the Chairman, Keith ‘Slippery’ Vaz MP is not happy because he has been told that it is ‘not for publication’ because disclosure could prejudice ‘on-going inquiries’.

On-going? SOCA has known all about it for 9 years and did nothing until the Dowler case hit the fan. It would seem that feeling the collars of a few hacks is one thing, but upsetting the big-shots of business is quite another. But the government is going to make it a crime to be an unlicensed private detective, so that should about do it!

This leaves us with a paradox. If it is a crime to pay an official to release information, as in Murdoch, why is it not a crime to pay an official to conceal it, as in NHS?

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