Tuesday, 7 September 2010
I am most puzzled by two aspects of the MetGate situation.
First, according to Assistant Commissioner John Yates, there were only to 10 to 12 cases which could be proved.
However, there were 91 unique (that is, not factory-set) PIN codes seized from Mulcaire on 8 August 2006. These PIN codes presumably mean interceptions or attempted interceptions had occurred.
Even before that raid, a Met internal document quoted by Nick Davies states:
"A vast number of unique voicemail numbers belonging to high-profile individuals (politicians, celebrities) have been identified as being accessed without authority. These may be the subject of a wider investigation in due course. A number of the targets of this unauthorised access have been informed."
The 10 to 12 cases are not easily reconcilable with the 91 figure or the "vast number".
Is there an explanation?
Second, it had been reported that Mulcaire is bound by a confidentiality agreement as part of a settlement with News International after he brought a claim for wrongful dismissal.
It appears the settlement amount was substantial.
This confidentiality obligation is the reason given for him not speaking on what happened.
However, it appears that Mulcaire was not actually an employee.
According to the invoices disclosed by John Prescott, Mulcaire contracted through a limited company.
It is thereby difficult to see how he was able to bring any claim in respect of his dismissal.
Nonetheless, the confidentiality provision which came about because of that threatened claim has more legal bite than it otherwise would have.
I wonder if there is any explanation why News International accepted such a compromise agreement in respect of a claim which appears to have been brought by an non-employee?
Perhaps the Home Office Select Committee, which has now announced an inquiry, can provide answers...
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