I wrote the following letter to the Guardian on this story over a year ago.
My letter said:
• The Guardian, Saturday 25 July 2009
It is a distraction to focus on the spying activities of the News of the World and the testimony of Andy Coulson while he worked at the News of the World (Andy Coulson tells MPs 'things went badly wrong' at News of the World, 22 July). A wider investigation of the activities of private investigators may well show that these sorts of services are offered by a plethora of companies, usually owned by ex-special branch or retired secret services personnel who believe themselves to be above the law. These companies are not properly policed or regulated.
An ex-special branch officer may feel his contacts within his local police force will make his activities subject to the most benign interpretation. He may employ moonlighting serving officers who allow him access to current intelligence. He will then also be assiduous in recruiting ex-SIS, MI5, GCHQ, SAS or SBS personnel whose contacts extend well beyond local boundaries to ensure utter immunity from the rule of law. The growing tendency for the security services to turn to these sorts of privatised companies, to ensure absolute deniability, is also worrying.
If one considers the profitable activities of companies like QinetiQ, Blackwater, Sandline International and myriad similar companies, their dominance in providing these sorts of less well advertised services in trouble hotspots all over the world and at home, one cannot but surmise that industrial and personal spying on largely innocent people has been turned into a very lucrative industry.
It's time that we turned the spotlight on all the amoral private investigators who operate with impunity outside the rule of law.
This article appeared on p33 of the Main section section of the Guardian on Saturday 25 July 2009. It was published on guardian.co.uk at 00.06 BST on Saturday 25 July 2009.
When I Googled Private Investigators in Oakham and Leicestershire I found seven companies listed. This list is clearly not definitive since Nigel Bullock, who has recruits from Leicestershire police, one of whom has assured me he was working under cover at a local company, is not listed in these companies. If over seven private investigators are gaining a good living in the local area then it is evident that more needs to be done to police the ex-policemen who seem to feel they are above the rule of law.
I have recently complained to Inspector Monks at Oakham police station that my email accounts appear to have been hacked and hijacked. One of the addresses – last used at around the time of the 2005 General Election: email@example.com appears to be used on another blog to post fraudulent comments, supposedly from me. The account would not open using my usual passwords used at the time and I haven’t used this account for several years. More worryingly a current address: firstname.lastname@example.org also seems to have been used to post yet more comments on the same blog. I have only made two posts on that blog in the last two months. Yet there appear to be a plethora of posts in different styles. I made two comments on that blog on 3 July and another two on 31 August using my email account email@example.com. The two send on 3 July were to wish Martin well on his trip to Gay Pride and on 31 August I posted a comment about Burley on the Hill, one time residence of Asil Nadir and a disclaimer saying I had made no other comments anonymously on his blog, despite my name being signed to them. I will not use this account to send out emails again, since the security is clearly breached. So any email emanating from me from either of those accounts should be immediately deleted and binned without opening.
Sgt Roy Collier telephoned me following my letter of complaint about this hacking to Inspector Monks at Oakham Police Station. He said he was a guardian of public funds and would not waste funds in finding out who had breached my privacy and hacked into my email accounts. I asked him for a letter confirming this. Sgt Collier declined to send me a letter, saying it would be a waste of his time and a waste of funds. I suggested that implied a lack of confidence in his own decision and went on to ask: ‘Are you standing on the square on this one?’ His reply was ‘Yes.’ Say no more. He went on to say that if he could offer any police assistance for other complaints he would be happy to do so.
However Oakham Police are happy, according to Martin Brookes’ blog to try to issue harassment notices brought by local Councillors and their chums when mentioned on Martin Brookes’ blog. Does this not strike you as double standards?
Bloggers blog because that is the last resort in a country whose press has given up free speech or oversight of democracy. We bloggers are the last bastion of vigilance over an increasingly out of control establishment intent on wielding power without accountability.
If the News of The World, and possibly Andy Coulson, the ex-editor of the News of the World at the time of the hacking debacle, now Director of Communication for David Cameron’s Conservative Party, according to the New York Times, are immune from proper investigation then we do not live in a democracy with functioning institutions. We lesser mortals, faced with the same degree of intrusion, are defenceless hostages to fortune as criminal forces successfully hijack our email accounts. When it is a possibility that Private Investigation companies may be supplying the information to hack into those private accounts and those ex-police Private Investigators are immune from the rule of law then it surely begins to look as if we are living in an establishment anarchy.
If the price of democracy is eternal vigilance, and those who exercise vigilance through free speech are hacked, harried and hijacked, it makes a nonsense of our claim to be a fully functioning democracy. Our efforts to deliver democracy at the point of a gun in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to show that those in power do not really understand the concept of democracy. When our Private Investigation companies are above the rule of law and conspire with those in power to undermine the very institutions which ensure democratic power, then we are in very deep water. The canals and waterways of public life appear to be infested with a noxious pollution and there does not appear to be any political will to address the problem. The powerful will always subvert institutions in their pursuit of power. An unchecked’Will to Power’ will always result in anarchy. We need to understand that we enable this sort of corruption to continue if we fail to deal with it adequately.
The New York Times reports that Andy Coulson, ex-editor of The News Of The World, is implicated in the bugging of senior members of the Labour Cabinet, as well as members of the Royal Family. Full story in the New York Times – URL:
The URL for the Guardian story is: