Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It Seems Like I've Been Here Before

BBC1 has ordered a sixth series of the comedy quiz show Would I Lie To You? Another nine half-hour shows, hosted by Rob Brydon, will be broadcast in an 8.30pm slot later this spring. Team captains Lee Mack and David Mitchell will both return, whilst Richard Madeley has tweeted that he will be one of the panelists in one episode. Series five, which went out in the autumn, started with four million viewers, and averaged slightly over three and a half million over the course of its run. Peter Holmes, he executive producer for programmer-makers Zeppotron said: 'We already have some amazing names and unbelievable stories lined-up for series six.' The episodes will be recorded at Pinewood Studios from next month.

Doctor Who writer Toby Whithouse has alluded to some of the changes coming in the next series of the show. The BBC's popular long-running SF family drama's seventh series will see Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) departing, with a new companion replacing the pair. Whithouse, who is expected to write the third episode, told The Hollywood Reporter that he is 'aware' of 'some plans for the new companion. In terms of the series as a whole there are quite a few things I know,' he said. As one would expect since he's writing for it. 'The one downside of working on Doctor Who is that you know what's coming up.' The Being Human creator agreed that it was time for Matt Smith's Doctor to get a new assistant, adding that the show's companions 'have a natural shelf life. I know a bit about the new companion, [but] I don't know who they cast,' he explained. 'Even if I did, if I told you [showrunner] Steven Moffat would come out here and punch me in the neck.' Ooo, and you don't want that, dear blog reader, trust me. You wouldn't like The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) when he's angry. 'Steven is one of the cleverest, most inventive people I've ever met in my life, and so you know it is in very safe hands with him. If he makes decisions, the chances are it's for the best - it's the best thing for the show.'

As well as production commencing on the new series of Doctor Who last Monday in Penarth, later in the week saw filming taking place at Southerndown Beach, the distinctive Dunraven Bay location has featured in a number of BBC Wales programmes, including Merlin and Being Human, and has been used previously in Doctor Who to represent an alien planet (Army of Ghosts), Bad Wolf Bay (Doomsday and Journey's End) and Alfava Metraxis (The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone). Matt Smith, Arthur Darvill and guest star Mark Williams were pictured during filming, which was covered by a number of media sources including the Sun, Radio Times and the Western Mail.
Now, this is something of a strange one. Cardiff City Council has been ordered to release any material that it holds relating to Doctor Who after failing to contest a decision from the UK's information regulator. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham had ordered the local authority to release the information last year, after receiving a complaint from a journalist named Christopher Hastings that his request for the council to release 'written complaints and correspondence' relating to the television series had been denied. Why Hastings wants this information is not made entirely clear. The council contested the ICO's decision, having withheld the information on the basis that dealing with the request would have 'taken longer than eighteen hours of work.' But an Information Rights Tribunal has now backed the Information Commissioner's original decision, unanimously dismissing the council's appeal after finding that the authority had 'not produced sufficient evidence' that the work would take this long. It said the council had 'failed to adduce "cogent" evidence to support their assertion' and that it had 'failed to demonstrate that they had undertaken a process involving "an investigation followed by an exercise of assessment and calculation." The tribunal therefore concluded that the appellant had failed to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that responding to Mr Hastings' enquiry would have involved in excess of eighteen hours work,' judges said. The tribunal added that it was 'bewildered' by the 'nature and quality of evidence' provided by Cardiff City Council, with two council officers - Phil Bradshaw and Dave Parsons - contradicting each other, and one of them (Bradshaw) 'contradicting himself.' It was also suggested that evidence from council freedom of information officer, Parsons, consisted of 'little more than a bald assertion that the work required would "obviously" take longer than eighteen hours.' A spokesman for the council said they were 'disappointed' at the decision and that they remained concerned it would take 'significantly longer' than eighteen hours to process the FoI request. 'In hindsight we accept we did not provide sufficient evidence to the tribunal in regard of the costs of processing the request for information, however, we note that the tribunal recognised the efforts made to clarify the request which were rejected by the requester of the information.' Although not forming a formal part the judgement, the tribunal said Hastings himself had adopted an 'unhelpful manner' in declining to narrow the scope of his enquiry. But judges were also concerned about a 'lack of an appropriate case or record management system' at the local authority. The council has now said a records management system and improved procedures are being implemented. But it accepted that there had been failings in their processes, and that a council leader had asked for a 'full review' of procedures as he was not aware of the tribunal until it was underway.

Being Human's Michael Socha has talked about Mark Gatiss's upcoming guest role in the popular BBC3 horror-flatshare comedy gestalt. Sherlock actor and co-creator Gatiss will play the vampire Mr Snow in a forthcoming episode of the supernatural drama. 'He's one of my favourite guest stars,' Socha, who plays werewolf Tom, told Entertainment Weekly. 'He really, actually, genuinely scared me when I was doing scenes with him. He's incredible.' Socha also admitted that he had been nervous about joining Being Human full-time, following the departure of original stars Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner and Sinead Keenan in rapid succession. 'At first, I was quite nervous,' he confessed. 'Being Human has got such a massive group of fans - a very hardcore, loyal group of fans. I thought that they had the potential to lose all of them. But I think now that people have actually watched the show, they've gotten themselves back into it and trust us nearly, if not as much, as the previous cast.'

Soaplife suggests that Scott & Bailey's second season will start on ITV on Monday 12 March (it was, of course, on Sundays last year) and Love Life is scheduled for Thursday 15 March.

Attending the Oscars is 'overwhelming and extraordinary', according to Benedict Cumberbatch. 'It's just wonderful, to be invited to the party and feel like you belong to something as glamorous on any kind of a level. It's still utterly overwhelming, extraordinarily sort of high-octane glamour,' admitted the Sherlock star during Sunday night's celebrations in Los Angeles. But Cumberbatch made it clear that, for him, being at the Oscars was more about his career than any childhood wish fulfilment of hob-nobbing with the glitterati. 'I watched an interview with an actress this afternoon saying "Oh, I'd dreamed of this as a kid." But I never did, and to me it's about work - it's great that I'm here, but I'm here because I'm working,' he told ITV's breakfast flop Daybreak. Yet even the man who plays the ice-cold detective couldn't hide his genuine excitement at rubbing shoulders with the stars - including some fans of Sherlock. 'The most extraordinary people who you've watched all your life are sitting in the seat next to you or wandering to get a drink, going, "Oh, I've just seen you in something" - I cannot believe it. And then, lots of them have seen Sherlock, which is great!' Cumberbatch attended the eighty fourth Academy Awards after starring in two nominated films, War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. They were up for best film and best adapted screenplay, respectively, but fell foul of the hugely successful The Artist and The Descendants.

Hustle finished its final - eighth - series with an overall average of 6.21 million viewers per episode and average timeshift of 1.39 million. Those figures are down 0.58m and up 0.25m respectively on the 2011 series. Which might suggest that the show just about ended at the right time, with the majority of its audience still intact and before it dropped significantly in quality. Call The Midwife, meanwhile, finishes its - astonishingly successful - first year with a final series average of 10.61 million per episode and average timeshift of 1.93 million. Not quite enough to be the top timeshifted drama of the year so far, but bloody close - Sherlock managed around ten thousand more timeshifters per episode. The happiest person in all this will be Danny Cohen who has two big dramas on his channel. Will any other dramas bar, perhaps, the Doctor Who Christmas episode be as big as those two on BBC1 this year? It's doubtful. Maybe New Tricks when it returns in the autumn. Danny has had a brilliant first quarter of 2012 so far. If it's any consolation, Dan, it can only go downhill from here! For the next three months on BBC1 it's Silent Witness and The Apprentice that are the big hitters and the big unknown of The Voice. For Danny Cohen The Voice could define him for the rest of his career at the Beeb regardless of what else he has done or will do in the future.

Grumpy old horrorshow Ade Edmondson (last funny, 1992) has 'slammed' (that's yer actual tabloidspeak for 'criticised' ... only with less syllables) soaps for their 'unpleasant' portrayal of British people. And, this is a new thing? The Young Ones and Bottom legend, these days reducing to fronting depressingly banal travelogues like The Dales described British soaps as 'selfish' and 'aggressive.' The fifty five-year-old told Reader's Digest: 'Can someone tell me what's wrong with a bit of feel-good telly? Haven't we got enough selfish, aggressive programmes? The soaps are full of unpleasant people. If you watched an average week of British TV, you'd come away thinking we're a nation of murderous, drink-driving, egotistical con-artists. I'm sorry, but this country's not like that. The vast majority of us are decent, funny and friendly.' Says a man who spent twenty five years playing extremely violent (if occasionally funny) skullcrackers like Vyvyan Bastard, Sir Adrian Dangerous and Richie Rich. Oh, the irony. Mind you, this is Adrian Edmondson talking, he's got previous form over exactly this sort of knobcheese glakery. Cheer up, y'grumpy sod!

A tabloid report has claimed there is a 'crisis' at EastEnders as ratings have 'slumped.' Last year it was Coronation Street which was supposedly 'in crisis', this year it's EastEnders if the tabloids are to be believed. Which they seldom are. But, as usual when a tabloid does a story based on television ratings figures, stripped of any context, it bears about as much relevance to reality as the contents of Ade Edmondson's head. The Mirra is claiming that 'bosses' (again, a beautifully tabloidesque word used because, it seems, tabloid writers don't believe that their readers have the intellectual capacity - or the wordskills - to get their head around the concept of 'executives') at the BBC are 'in crisis talks' as ratings for flagship soap EastEnders have fallen, the paper claims, by one and a half million viewers. The tabloid also claims that there are 'concerns' over the number of 'youth characters' currently in the soap and how much attention they receive sparking criticisms that EastEnders is 'turning into Hollyoaks' with older characters being sidelined leaving older audiences feeling alienated. 'EastEnders is going through a major transition, and some of the BBC's senior managers are concerned the show might suffer long term if well-loved characters are sidelined,' an alleged (and, of course, anonymous) 'source' allegedly told the Mirra. The paper goes on to say that BBC's 'drama chief' John Yorke is at 'odds' with EastEnders' executive producer, Bryan Kirkwood, over the number of younger characters in the soap. The alleged 'source' allegedly told the Mirra 'At the moment there are more youngsters in Albert Square than there are in Hollyoaks. John is concerned that viewers may be put off by the new stars, and wants to get it back to a more traditional feel. It's a worrying time, and urgent action is planned.' Just for a bit of balance, according to BARB the consolidated final audience figures for the four episodes of EastEnders shown in the week ending 19 February (the last full week for which figures are currently available) were 9.53m, 9.24m, 6.49m and 8.96m. Admittedly, the Thursday figure was very low for EastEnders - it was probably affected by the big audience Channel Five pulled in for the Manchester United vs Ajax match that evening - although the BBC3 repeat for that episode later the same night brought in a further 1.42m viewers. But, as we always say even with regard to shows that do appear to have lost, at least in the short term, a portion of their audience (as, say, Britain's Got Talent undeniably did last year) no show pulling in figures in the eight to nine million range, no matter what they were getting last year, can be described as 'in crisis' or anything even remotely like it. And, anybody who describes them thus is a foolish fool in their foolishness.

Downton Abbey has reportedly cast two new actors for its third series. Cara Theobald will play a new kitchen maid called Ivy in the Carnival Films period drama, while it has also been confirmed that Lucille Sharp has joined as lady's maid Miss Reid. Last week, it was revealed that Matt Milne, the star of War Horse, had signed up to play a footman named Alfred. In January, Oscar-nominated actress Shirley MacLaine was brought in to portray Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern). Sharp's Miss Reid is to serve as Martha Levinson's maid in the Lord Snooty-penned piece. Downton Abbey is expected to return with a new series on ITV later this year.

The BBC has come fifth in this year's annual UK Consumer Superbrands survey. The corporation was the highest-scoring UK organisation in the poll, with an index of seventy nine out of one hundred. Which is ... better than seventy eight. Apparently. Watch-maker Rolex topped the survey, followed by multi-national firms Coca-Cola, Google and Mercedes-Benz. This is the sixth year in which the BBC appears in the top five in the poll of the UK's strongest brands, which has been running since 1995. Other UK brands in the top twenty include the Royal Albert Hall and John Lewis. But technology firms Apple and Microsoft dropped out of the top ten to numbers eighteen and forty five respectively. The vote involved a survey of more than two thousand adults, following a selection process by The Centre for Brand Analysis. This constitutes 'news', apparently.

Filming has begun in South London on BBC3's Some Girls, written by Game On author Bernadette Davis. The six-part series follows 'the lives and loves of a group of quirky sixteen year old girls who play on the same school football team and live on the same inner city estate.' So, it's a BBC version of Skins, basically. Produced by Justin Davies (whose previous credits include Absolutely Fabulous, Beautiful People and Psychoville) and directed by Adam Miller, Some Girls stars Adelayo Adedayo as Viva, the great Colin Salmon as her dad Rob, Dolly Wells as her stepmother, Anna and Natasha Jonas, Mandeep Dhillon and Alice Felgate as her friends. Justin Davies commented: 'Some Girls is a very funny snapshot of four underdogs. It is an unadulterated celebration of teenage life; messy, sexy and a little bit wrong – but always lots of fun.'

And, so to phone-hacking. Yeah, why not?
Charlotte Church says she was 'sickened and disgusted' by what she discovered during her legal action against News International over phone-hacking. Church and her parents have agreed damages and costs of six hundred thousand smackers with News Group Newspapers - publishers of the defunct, disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World. The High Court heard that the singer's phone was repeatedly hacked when she was just sixteen years old. The court agreed that thirty three articles in the paper had been due to her family's voicemails being hacked. The settlement includes three hundred thousand knicker in legal costs and a - very - public apology from a not particularly contrite News International. Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Church said it was an 'important day' for her and her family. 'I brought this legal claim with my parents, as many others have done, because we wanted to find out the truth about what this newspaper group had done in the pursuit of stories about our family. What I have discovered as the litigation has gone on has sickened and disgusted me. Nothing was deemed off limits by those who pursued me and my family, just to make money for a multinational news corporation.' The court heard that Church's phone was hacked in 2002 and journalists also placed her under surveillance and gained access to her medical records. The court also heard that her mother, Maria, was at 'her lowest ebb' and was 'coerced' into doing an interview with the paper's journalists about how she had self-harmed and attempted suicide after reporters gained information from hacked voicemails about her medical history. The family's solicitor, Mike Brookes, told the court: 'She felt she had no choice but to give the interview and was deeply traumatised by the publication of the story in the News of the World.' He said: 'The News of the World targeted Charlotte and her voicemail messages repeatedly, and in doing so unlawfully obtained her private medical information and details of her personal relationships with her family and friends. Even her first teenage boyfriend. They then ran stories about Charlotte using this information.' The BBC's legal affairs correspondent, Clive Coleman, said that the award, the last of the first wave of sixty settlements against News International, was one of the highest. He said it gave 'an insight' into some of the things that had taken place and the deeply personal nature of the intrusion which Church was clearly very angry about outside court. 'We got a sense of how important the process of litigation here is, the process of discovery, with Ms Church saying it has only been in the last few days that she really learned the full extent of what had been happening,' he added. Church said she had discovered that, despite an apology she believed the paper was 'not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught.' She added that 'money could never mend the damage that was done,' and she would use her portion of the settlement to protect her children from further invasions of privacy. The twenty six-year-old singer said that she was now planning to focus on helping the criminal investigation and Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media ethics. In November, she told the Leveson Inquiry that her mother had attempted suicide 'at least in part' because she had known the newspaper was going to publish details of her father's affair. She told the hearing paparazzi had taken pictures up her skirt, there were photographers outside her house on most days and her manager had found evidence of a camera hidden in a shrub outside her home. 'I really wanted to take it all the way as well. I am really sorry, I hope people don't feel let down, but the thing is it's not so black and white, it's definitely not a case of money; it became totally irrelevant,' Church added, in an interview with the Gruniad. Church, the newspaper notes, doesn't know how far up the chain at News International knowledge of phone-hacking went but, it claims, she has 'strong views' about former Scum of the World editors Andy Coulson and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, who went on to become News International chief executive. 'I don't know what their involvement was, but looking at their positions as editor of the News of the World, the other being the head of the umbrella company, I think they behaved very irresponsibly and I think they put a lot of people at risk.'

Documents revealing the full extent of the Metropolitan police cover-up over phone-hacking have been unearthed after legal discovery battles by Scum of the World victims. The files' contents were detailed on Monday to the Leveson inquiry in sworn written statements from the former deputy prime minister John Prescott and the former Met deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick, who was himself a hacking victim. Paddick used his insider knowledge to depict the existence of 'a widespread fear' of the tabloids among senior police officers and what he called a general 'culture of cover-up' at the Met. But the detailed allegations that he and Prescott made about the hacking affair are even more startling. According to the evidence, specific lies appear to have been told not only to individual victims, but to government ministers, parliament, the judges and the public. Police attempts to undermine the Gruniad's reporting when it first disclosed the scandal in 2009 are shown to have been wrong. There had been a 'conspiracy of silence', Prescott said. According to the evidence presented on Monday, police knew from the outset that John Prescott was a hacking victim, but told him exactly the opposite; police immediately identified hundreds of hacking targets in the seized files of the private detective Glenn Mulcaire in 2006, but later claimed that they were 'unaware' of them; police never received key financial evidence or computers from News International; police 'tipped off' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks, the then editor of the Sun, about the scope of their investigation; police discovered in Mulcaire's files highly sensitive leaks from within their own ranks which could have endangered those with new identities. An unknown police officer reversed a recorded decision to inform key victims, ensuring a cover-up. Some of the most senior officers who handled the case have already testified to MPs on the Commons media committee. They are being recalled under oath by Lord Justice Leveson later this week. These include the former assistant commissioner John Yates, who has resigned and is currently employed as a consultant by the ruling family in Bahrain; the former deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke and the former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman. Police investigations were 'thorough and appropriate' to start with, said Paddick. The Scum of the World's royal reporter Clive Goodman was targeted in 2006 after members of the royal household complained that their phones were being interfered with. The documents reveal, however, that police realised from the outset that phone-hacking was a potentially huge issue. On 4 April 2006, Detective Superintendent Philip Williams wrote that the ability to intercept voicemails was 'highly unlikely to be limited to Goodman alone' and could be 'too expensive' to investigate by the royal security squad. In May, after Mulcaire had been linked to the alleged crime, the case officer Mark Maberley wrote of 'sophisticated and organised interception of voice messages.' His senior investigating officer, Keith Surtees, proposed that 'given the large number of non-royal victims' a better-equipped squad should take over. Paddick said that he did not understand why this never happened. The team then discovered that the then Labour cabinet minister Tessa Jowell was being hacked. When Mulcaire's property was raided on 8 August 2006 they found that John Prescott, then the Deputy Prime Minister, was also being targeted. A transcript of Mulcaire's interrogation on the following day was revealed on Monday. Prescott said that he found the transcript 'quite staggering' when it was eventually disclosed to him five years later. The interrogator, a DC Gallagher, was recorded saying: 'Another page here has got the name John Prescott. There's another name underneath, first of all it says adviser and then the name Joan Hammell. You've got her telephone numbers and DI numbers, password numbers and Vodafone passwords and an address.' Police regarded the Prescott allegation as so significant in 2006 that they included his name in a draft application for a search warrant for the Scum of the World, for some reason still unknown, which was never executed. The draft said that Mulcaire had been receiving extra payments of two hundred and fifty smackers a time 'which appear to be linked to assistance given in relation to specific stories.' It added: 'The details contained in these invoices demonstrate these stories involve individuals in the public eye such as "Prescott."' The evidence police already held included two two hundred and fifty knicker bills which Mulcaire presented to News International dated 7 May 2006 and 21 May 2006. One said: 'Story – other Prescott assist – TXT' and the other: 'Story: Other Prescott assist – TXT: Urgent.' Other damning evidence which later came to light, and would have been discovered had police pursued inquiries at the time, included an internal News International e-mail dated 28 April 2006. It was headed 'Joan Hammell: adviser to Prescott,' and gave instructions on how to access her voicemail box, saying that there were 'forty five messages to be listened to.' But police did not push ahead. There was a 'tense stand-off' at the Scum of the World offices when police arrived, according to the case officer. Stuart Kuttner, the managing editor, and the Farrers solicitor Julian Pike met police and allegedly 'obstructed' them. The accounts department was not searched as intended, nor were Goodman's safe and computer taken away. The paper's lawyers continued to stall and refuse to provide documents, and falsely claim to be co-operating, according to Paddick. Police never served a planned production order to 'identify other individuals' who had committed offences. Paddick said: 'It is not usual that a suspect would be permitted to fob the police off in this way.' Nevertheless, by 10 August 2006, police had identified 'hundreds of individuals including royals, MPs, sports stars, military, police, celebrities and journalists' among the Scum of the World's alleged hacking victims. A printed analysis with names, addresses and contact details of four hundred and eighteen of them had been prepared. In summer 2006 a decision was recorded in the decision log to warn all the victims, especially those such as politicians, military and police, where there were security concerns. But this decision was reversed, with no record kept of the reversal or who had actually made the decision. Only 'a tiny fraction' of victims were told at that stage, with Paddick and Prescott among those kept in the dark. Paddick said: 'I have no idea who made that decision.' According to Paddick, police also went on to 'tip-off' well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks (then Wade) about the 'limited police strategy' which had been decided upon. On 15 September 2006, a conversation between Brooks and 'cops' is described in an internal News International e-mail. According to the e-mail, police 'reassured' Brooks that the Met would not widen the hacking case to include other Scum of the World 'people', as long as no more direct evidence was forthcoming. 'The [Metropolitan police service] were effectively tipping [the Scum of the World] off and [they] could do then, as indeed they did, avoid providing evidence of the involvement of other journalists,' Paddick said. The contents of Brooks's conversation were subsequently passed to Andy Coulson, then Scum of the World editor, by the paper's lawyer Tom Crone. All three subsequently falsely claimed that hacking was limited to 'one rogue reporter' and continued to do so, publicly, for another four years. The police remained silent, and the facts were covered up until the Gruniad disclosed in July 2009 that 'public figures were targeted by investigators, including John Prescott.' A News International statement after the publication of the first Gruniad hacking story - by Nick Davies - said: 'All of these irresponsible and unsubstantiated allegations against News of the World and other News International titles and its journalists are false.' This was untrue. A letter from Brooks, still editor of the Sun at this stage, to John Whittingdale, the chairman of the Commons culture and media committee, in response to Gruniad allegations stated, boldly: 'The Guardian coverage has, we believe, substantially and likely deliberately misled the British public.' This was untrue. Coulson, the by now former editor of the Scum of the World, told the committee: 'I have never condoned the use of phone-hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone-hacking took place. I took full responsibility at the time for what happened but without my knowledge and resigned.' Whether this was untrue or not, time will tell. In August 2009, the Scum of the World's new editor, Colin Myler, to the Press Complaints Commission: 'Our internal inquiries have found no evidence of involvement by News of the World staff other than Clive Goodman in phone message interception beyond the e-mail transcript which emerged in April 2008 during the Gordon Taylor litigation and which has since been revealed in the original Guardian report.' This was untrue. Myler further told the PCC that allegations by the Gruniad that police 'found evidence of News Group's staff using private investigators who hacked into thousands of mobile phones,' and that the police findings 'put the figure at two or three thousand mobiles' were 'not just unsubstantiated and irresponsible, they were wholly false.' In actual fact, events have proved that they were something of an underestimate. Myler's denials, however, were wholly false. Lord Prescott said he was 'astonished' to read the Gruniad story and wrote, immediately, to the Met. John Yates rang the then Deputy Prime Minister in his car the next day to deny that there was anything to the Gruniad's story. This was untrue. He went on to deny it at a press conference, saying: 'This investigation has not uncovered any evidence that John Prescott's telephone had been tapped,' and again to the home affairs committee on 7 September 2010: '[Prescott] has never been hacked to my knowledge and there is no evidence that he has.' He insisted that every potential victim had been told 'where we had even the minutest possibility they may have been the subject of an attempt to hack.' All of these statements are untrue. Hayman – by then employed by News International to write a column for The Times – claimed on the radio that Prescott was 'ranting' and 'wasting public money.' He also claimed that the police had 'left no stone unturned.' This was untrue. Police then apparently misled a judge, according to the evidence given to Leveson, in an attempt to block Prescott's lawsuit against them. Permission to sue was initially refused in February 2011 because of a false assurance that there was no evidence Prescott's voicemail had ever been hacked. Not until 30 September last year were the documents finally disclosed. Prescott told Leveson on Monday it was 'deeply shocking' for him to find that police had 'supported and assisted an organisation guilty of criminal behaviour. They appear to have protected the perpetrators and misled the victims,' he said. Paddick said that he was similarly misled. After writing personally to Yates he had originally been assured that 'we have no documentation to suggest that [you] were subjected to unlawful monitoring or interception.' This was untrue. He eventually discovered that his name and details as 'police commander' were on one of Mulcaire's three hundred and twenty computer 'project lists.' Police also filed a misleading defence to Paddick's judicial review case, claiming there was 'no evidence' about him and that the full Mulcaire material had not been examined because it was 'too voluminous, chaotic and disorganised and difficult to decipher.' One of the documents now emerging is a witness statement from case officer Maberley. He disclosed that Mulcaire's 'project list' included new identities of people in the witness protection scheme, such as the two Bulger defendants. This included 'people who had been given new identities by the police for their own protection.' Paddick said that it must have been leaked by the police. If it reached the Scum of the World, 'this could have serious consequences for those individuals.' It should have been handled with the utmost seriousness. But Mulcaire was never questioned about it, and, because he agreed to plead guilty, 'the whole thing appears to have been covered up.' Paddick said that the public might not be convinced by the renewed Met investigations, despite Sue Akers's undoubted integrity, because News Corporation ultimately controlled what evidence was turned over, and Met officers were themselves allegedly heavily implicated in corruption.

So, as we have seen, both well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks and the Prime Minister's, ahem, 'chum', Andy Coulson were warned as early as 2006 that there was evidence of widespread hacking at the Scum of the World, according to an e-mail which was submitted in evidence to the Leveson inquiry. The internal News International e-mail shows that an unnamed police source told Brooks there were between one hundred and one hundred and ten alleged 'victims' while the Scum of the World was under criminal investigation for hacking phones in the royal household. She was also told there were records suggesting News International had paid more than one million smackers to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed to carry out the hacking. The e-mail from News International lawyer Tom Crone to the then Scum of the World editor, Andy Coulson, sets out what the police knew and the steps which they were planning to take in their first phone-hacking investigation. It was based on information which Crone says had been passed to him by Rebekah Brooks, then Wade, who was the editor of the Sun at the time. She had been the Scum of the World editor before Coulson. 'They are confident they have Clive [Goodman] and [Mulcaire] bang to rights on the palace interception,' says Crone's e-mail to Coulson in deliciously Sweeney-esque style. Cor blimey, guv'nor, it's a fair cop an' no mistake. The e-mail further informed Coulson that police had 'recovered payment records' from News International to Mulcaire: 'The only payment records they found were from News International, the News of the World retainer and other invoices. They said that over the period they looked at (going way back) there seemed to be over one million pounds of payments.' Both Brooks and Coulson have - repeatedly - denied that they had any knowledge of phone-hacking in the years after the successful prosecution of royal correspondent Goodman and Mulcaire in 2007, although Coulson resigned from his position to take what he termed 'ultimate' responsibility. The e-mail was sent at 10.34am on 15 September 2006. Crone begins: 'Andy, here's [what] Rebekah told me about info relayed to her by cops.' And, as previously noted, isn'[t it nice to see that even when they're e-mailing each other, News International executives use Sun-speak and never use a two syllable word ('police') where a one-syllable word ('cops') will do instead? The e-mail then sets out ten key developments about what the police had discovered after arresting Mulcaire and raiding his premises. 'Their purpose is to insure that when Glenn Mulcaire comes up in court the full case against him is there for the court to see (rather than just the present palace charges). All they are asking victims is "did you give anyone permission to access your voicemail?" And if not "do you wish to make a formal complaint?"' says the e-mail. 'They are confident that they can then charge Glenn Mulcaire in relation to those victims. They are keen that the charges should demonstrate the scale of Glenn Mulcaire's activities so they would feature victims from different areas of public life, politics, showbiz, etc.' The e-mail shows that the police source had told Brooks that raids on Mulcaire's premises had recovered voice recordings and notes from them. But the extensive e-mail, read out by Robert Jay QC at the Leveson inquiry, also seems to show the officer had said the police investigation would be limited in scope: 'They suggested that they were not widening the case to include other News of the World people but would do so if they got direct evidence. Say, News of the World journos directly accessing the voicemails (this is what did for Clive).' Another passage outlines the strength of the police case at that time: 'They do have Glenn Mulcaire's phone records which show sequences of contacts with News of the World before and after accesses. Obviously they don't have the content of the calls so this is at best circumstantial.' The e-mail goes on to say police knew the pattern of victims being targeted, and which ones detectives would visit. The e-mail says the police were 'confident' five to ten victims would co-operate with a prosecution of Mulcaire. The e-mail ends by saying: 'They are going to contact RW today to see if she wishes to take it further.' RW, it was suggested by Jay, 'most likely' refers to Rebekah Wade.

Fresh allegations of a 'culture of illegal payments' at the Sun newspaper have significantly increased the likelihood that US authorities will prosecute News Corp, according to legal experts. US authorities are considering bringing action against Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the Sun's parent company, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, legislation which allows officials to go after US firms alleged to have bribed foreign officials. If found guilty, News Corp faces a possible court case and hundreds of millions in fines. This week, Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers told the Leveson inquiry that there was 'a culture of illegal payments' at the Sun to 'a network of corrupted officials.' The Sun and its former sister paper, the disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World, are owned by News International, a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corp, the US media giant which also owns FOX, the Wall Street Journal, Harper Collins publishing and a controlling stake in BSkyB, among other assets. 'This is obviously a very significant development with regards to the likelihood of a US prosecution,' said Mark MacDougall, partner in the Washington office of the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and a former federal prosecutor. 'If the British authorities are articulating a pattern, a defined scheme, to bribe officials, that is a very big deal.' The latest allegations significantly increase the likelihood of an FCPA action, said Mike Koehler, professor of business law at Butler University and author of the FCPA Professor blog. 'Last July, when we first started talking about this, there was one newspaper, the News of the World and one category of foreign official, the police. Now we have another newspaper and a much broader category of foreign officials,' said Koehler. 'The evidence seems to suggest that there was a recognition that these payments may have been illegal and the notion that there were attempts to disguise the nature of these payments,' said Koehler. These elements would fall under the remit of the FCPA. The original investigation centred on payment to police officers, and there had been some argument that the police did not fit the FCPA's definition of 'foreign government officials.' Tom Fox, a Houston-based lawyer who specialises in FCPA cases and anti-corruption law, said that Akers's allegations that payments had been made to 'police, military, government, prison and health and others' had destroyed that argument. 'Speaking of a culture of corruption is really bad,' said Fox. 'There are two main types of FCPA case. In the first, a company has policies in place but fails to detect corruption. The second is far worse. And that's when there is a programme in place and you ignore it.' Koehler said that any prosecution was most likely under the 'books and records and internal control provisions' of the FCPA. 'If a company is misrepresenting payments or has insufficient internal controls to stop illegal payments before they occur, [FCPA officials] will take action,' he said. In Akers's testimony, she claimed that there were 'systems' in place at the Sun to hide the identity of sources, and evidence to suggest those making the payments fully realised that what they were doing was wrong. FCPA experts said the mounting evidence was also likely to put paid to arguments that the payments were too small and localised an issue to trigger a full FCPA case. In several recent cases brought by US financial watchdog the Securities and Exchange Commission, action was taken against foreign subsidiaries because their accounts were consolidated with a US parent company. In February Smith & Nephew, a UK-based medical supplies company, paid twenty two million dollars to settle charges that it had made 'illicit payments to public doctors employed by government hospitals or agencies in Greece.' S&N was hit by an FCPA action because it consolidated its accounts with its Memphis-based US subsidiary. Last April, New York-based Comverse Technology settled charges that it had violated the FCPA's books and records and internal controls provisions for payments made thorough an Israeli subsidiary. Koehler said that the majority of FCPA cases were now being brought on books and record-keeping, as they were easier to prove. 'The allegation that the subsidiaries' problematic books and records were consolidated with the parent company issuer's books and records for purposes of financial reporting is made in nearly every SEC FCPA enforcement action,' he said. FCPA experts said investigators would be looking for any similar evidence of payments that could violate FCPA rules in other News Corp markets like Australia. MacDougall said the investigations could also have ramifications for News Corp in the US. 'If any of this decision-making was made in the US, or if information flowed into the US outlets then that significantly increases exposure for those involved,' he said. MacDougall added that there were a variety of statutes under US law that prosecutors could consider should they find direct US involvement in the case. 'US prosecutors powers are very broad, and necessarily so,' he said. But no case is likely to be brought against the firm soon. Koehler said typically it takes two to four years before the US authorities feel they have thoroughly exhausted an FCPA inquiry and decided whether or not to press charges.

A private detective at the centre of allegations that computers were hacked for the Scum of the World has been jailed for illegal 'blagging' in a separate case. Philip Campbell Smith was one of four investigators who have become the first to be jailed for accessing private information for cash. Along with Daniel Summers, Graham Freeman and Adam Spears, he was involved in a blagging conspiracy where they accessed confidential information at the behest of wealthy clients. Smith, a former army officer, who also admitted possessing three rounds of ammunition in a separate case, is under investigation over allegations that he hacked the computer of a former British army intelligence officer for the now defunct, disgraced and disgraceful tabloid in 2006. Some of the hacked information allegedly related to two IRA informants who were both high-profile assassination targets including Freddie Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife. Sentencing Summers to twelve months in The Big House, Spears and Smith to eight months and Freeman to six months behind bars, Judge Andrew Campbell said: 'You knew it [the information] would be obtained by using criminal deception. The fact is you were all charging for your services and in some cases charging very considerable sums. I am satisfied that each of you knew that if you were caught you were likely to face a charge that carried imprisonment. Indeed Mr Freeman wrote an e-mail advising a client of that very fact.' Sandip Patel, prosecuting, said that Summers - 'a self-confessed blagger' - was the 'lynchpin' of the conspiracy, using his skills to get confidential information from banks, holders of medical records, HMRC, the DVLA, the Criminal Records Bureau, Interpol and others by pretending to be the individual concerned or from a bank or other legitimate institution. Operating from his flat in Teddington, the thirty two-year-old, who describes himself as 'an information broker,' was subcontracted to get the details by Smith, fifty three, and Freeman, fifty one, who ran the private investigation firm Brookmans International. Freeman, who lives in Spain, would e-mail or phone Smith about the work and investigators believe Smith would then pass the work on to Summers, charging clients up to five grand a time. In an e-mail to a client about why their charges were that high, Freeman wrote, apparently, proudly, that police and Interpol databases which might be accessed were 'not open to the general public and are tightly regulated,' meaning that 'should we be apprehended a custodial sentence' may be handed out. Summers was also asked to extract information by Spears, seventy two, a retired Metropolitan police detective inspector, for his consultancy firm Global Intelligence Services Ltd. The quartet were caught out when an undercover police officer bought Summers's laptop from him for five hundred and ninety quid in October 2008 and a forensic examination retrieved evidence of his activities, which Summers thought he had deleted. When he was arrested in May 2009 Summers, who is said to be an alcoholic, told police: 'I'm in the biggest shit imaginable. Do you want to talk now? I'll sing like a canary.' He freely admitted that he knew what he had been doing was illegal and revealed his three main clients, who were subsequently arrested. He later said: 'I'm glad this has happened because now it has stopped. I can't do it any more.' The four men all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain information by false representation between January 2007 and May 2009 but claimed some of those they investigated were criminals themselves. In one case they investigated suspects accused of duping hundreds of members of the public in a multimillion-pound fraud. But, although a judge said in some of the cases those investigated had almost certainly committed crimes, it was still 'no excuse' for what the defendants did in their naughtiness. Kingston crown court heard that some information came from corrupt police and there was the suggestion that hacking - phone and computer - could have been used, but this did not form part of the prosecution case against the four. However, a 'source' supposedly with knowledge of the case, which was brought by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, allegedly told the Gruniad: 'There could have been hacking. There is some suggestion they got mobile phone passwords and pins to hack voicemails and text messages.' The 'source' allegedly also suggested that computer hacking with a trojan virus was 'also possible.' Smith, a former intelligence services officer, who served in the British army between 1986 and 1991 including tours of Northern Ireland, is now understood to be under investigation by a Scotland Yard inquiry, Operation Kalmyk, which is examining allegations that e-mail hacking may have been used against several dozen targets. The computer that Smith is suspected of hacking belonged to the former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst. It is claimed that this activity was commissioned by Alex Marunchak, who was a senior editor on the Scum of the World when it was edited by Andy Coulson. Marunchak denies the allegations. The material accessed by the hacker included messages concerning at least two agents who had informed on the Provisional IRA: Scappaticci and a second informant known as Kevin Fulton. Both men were regarded as high-risk targets for assassination. Hurst was one of the few people who knew their whereabouts and the e-mails contained information capable of disclosing this. Hurst found out Smith had hacked his computer and went on to tape him confessing to it. Sections of that confession were broadcast last year as part of a BBC Panorama programme. Smith is also alleged to have hacked the e-mail of a former police officer who was acting as a police informer known as Joe Poulton between September 2005 and January 2006. Operation Kalmyk is investigating the allegations in the BBC Panorama programme. Smith, who has a previous conviction for soliciting a woman for prostitution in 2004, was further sentenced to four months in the slammer for possessing three rounds of ammunition which were found in a cupboard at his home. This will run concurrently with the eight-month sentence for blagging.

The sentencing of a film actor who racially abused his ex-girlfriend has been adjourned after he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. James Howson, twenty four, of Leeds, admitted racially aggravated harassment last month and was due to be sentenced at Leeds Magistrates' Court. The case was adjourned however after the court heard that he was in a Newcastle hospital. Howson starred in the latest film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, which was released last year. He won the role after he attended auditions advertised in a JobCentre and was the first black actor to ever play Emily Bronte's Heathcliff. Speaking outside the court Anthony Sugare, Howson's solicitor, said: 'The position is that on arriving at court this morning, I was told that the court itself had heard from the hospital that he had been taken in there under the Mental Health Act for a period of twenty eight days for observation.' At a previous hearing the court was told Howson shouted racist abuse and threats at his former girlfriend after their three-year relationship ended. Howson is now expected to be sentenced on 26 March.

Noel Gallagher has suggested that he would judge The X Factor for a million smackers fee. Hell, for a million smackers, I'd join The X Factor. The former Oasis songwriter and guitarist, who confirmed last year that he turned down an offer to join the panel, added that he was drawn to the lucrative role. 'It's about six months' work, innit? I reckon it would have to be a million pounds after tax,' he told Radio Times. 'I say that tongue-in-cheek. I don't really want to do it. But a million pounds for six months' work? That's good money if you can get it. Even I don't earn that much.' Gallagher revealed that Simon Cowell wanted him to be the 'alpha male' of the refreshed X Factor panel. The musician recalled: 'He said, "Basically [I want] somebody to replace me", and I was like, "What, you mean have all the kids round my house in the back garden and saying to big lunatics, I've made my decision and I can only take three." No, that's not going to happen in my house, the missus would kick off for a start!'

An Accrington Stanley ('who are they?') fan from Brazil flew almost six thousand miles from his hometown to watch his favourite team. Lose. Diego Guerra revealed that he fell in love with the League Two club in 2006 after watching them beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the Carling Cup online. Since then, he has studied the club, followed the team's results and brought them to - virtual - Premier League glory on Football Manager. Guerra explained that fellow fans urged him to come to the UK to see a game, where he was also given a tour by club officials. 'Talking to fans on the Internet forums they said I should come, so that's what I did,' he told the Mirra. The Rio de Janeiro resident saw his team lose 2-0 to Crewe Alexandra, but insisted that he still enjoyed his experience. 'I think the club shows what's right about football as it's a local club,' he said. 'I like the history about the club struggling through the years but how the fans never let it die.' He added that Accrington Stanley were rather different in stature to his local team Flamengo, saying: 'They are one of the biggest clubs in Brazil with thirty five million fans and have players like Ronaldinho.'

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a truly mighty slab of yer actual indie-eighties dance crossover. Bring The News. Tune.

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