Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

If It's the Media, Don't Drink or Flirt, Police Told

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

If It's the Media, Don't Drink or Flirt, Police Told

Article excerpt

A report commissioned by the police in response to the phone- hacking scandal urges officers to be cautious when dealing with the news media.

Do not indulge in "late-night carousing" with journalists. Do not flirt with them, either. And above all, advised a report, if you are a police officer, do not let a member of the news media ply you with alcohol in an effort to get you to "drop your defenses" and start saying things you should keep to yourself.

"These are all longstanding media tactics to get you to spill the beans," warned the report, an investigation into the relationship between the news media and the Metropolitan Police Service released here Wednesday.

The report was commissioned by the police last summer in response to the phone-hacking scandal that led Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. to close the disgraced The News of the World tabloid. Under pressure from Parliament, the police admitted that senior officers had had frequent lunches and dinners with editors and reporters from The News of the World, had hired an editor just after he had resigned from the paper and had continued to socialize with The News of the World journalists who were suspected of hacking.

It also became clear that the police, compromised by their relationship to the paper, had failed to properly investigate phone hacking by The News of the World despite having extensive evidence.

As a result, two of London's top police officials -- Commissioner Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner John Yates -- resigned.

The report, by Dame Elizabeth Filkin, a former senior civil servant, does not single out The News of the World for particular censure.

Instead, it paints a picture of an all-too-cozy and virtually unregulated relationship between the British news media and the police, full of potentially compromising social encounters lubricated by large amounts of liquor, unauthorized leaks to reporters, payment to police officers for news tips and information, and special favors on both sides for preferential treatment.

In a news conference, Dame Elizabeth praised both the news media and the police. But, she said, "it does appear that the close relationship between some senior members of the Met and some sections of the media compromised the capacity of both those institutions to scrutinize the activities of the other. …

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