Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab): As the Prime Minister has previously said, the hacking inquiry should go where the evidence takes it. The Metropolitan police are in possession of paperwork detailing the dealings of criminal private investigator Jonathan Rees. It strongly suggests that, on behalf of News International, he was illegally targeting members of the royal family, senior politicians and high-level terrorist informers, yet the head of Operation Weeting has recently written to me to explain that this evidence may be outside the inquiry’s terms of reference. Prime Minister, I believe powerful forces are involved in a cover-up; please tell me what you intend to do to make sure that that does not happen.
The Prime Minister: I know the hon. Gentleman takes a close interest in this subject, and the point I would make to him is that there is a police inquiry, and a police inquiry does not need terms of reference. The police are free to investigate the evidence and take that wherever it leads them, and then mount a prosecution with the Crown Prosecution Service if the evidence supports that. In the case of phone hacking, which is illegal and wrong, there have been prosecutions and imprisonments, and if that is where the evidence takes them, that is what will happen in the future. There are no terms of reference as far as I am concerned; the police are able to look at any evidence and all evidence they can find.
Note, in particular, the bit about he was illegally targeting … high-level terrorist informers.
When a hush descends on the Commons at PMQs it involves either body-bags or something similar. This was one such moment. Watson had hit a nerve. What is even more peculiar is that, while Cameron says the Met are already up-and-doing, Watson has a letter from the Met saying it’s all beyond their terms of reference.
Watson’s reference leads us instantly to a Guardian story, by Nick Davies, on 11th March, which dished the dirt on this Jonathan Rees. The relevance comes well down the page:
One person who is familiar with Rees’s operations claims that he or one of his associates started using Trojan Horse software, which allowed them to email a target’s computer and copy the contents of its hard disk. This source claims that they used this tactic when they were hired by the News of the World to gather background on Freddy Scapaticci, a former IRA man who had been exposed as an MI6 informer codenamed Stakeknife.
Davies updated some details for yesterday’s Guardian:
The successful hacking of a computer belonging to the former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst was achieved in July 2006 by sending Hurst an email containing a Trojan programme which copied Hurst’s emails and relayed them back to the hacker. This included messages he had exchanged with at least two agents who informed on the Provisional IRA — Freddie Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife; and a second informant known as Kevin Fulton. Both men were regarded as high-risk targets for assassination. Hurst was one of the very few people who knew their whereabouts. The hacker cannot be named for legal reasons.
In other words, Davies has the name, but can’t divulge.
Why does “Philip Campbell Smith” spring out of the ether? Perhaps it was prompted by indictments for fraud and illegally possessing live 9mm parabellum ammunition (TT20107303), at Kingston Crown Court. If that’s still sub judice, it explains the “legal reasons”. Mr Smith is a.k.a. “Rob Lewis”
As for the former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst, he is the real name of “Martin Ingram” . Hurst was a Staff Sergeant in the Intelligence Corps. In other words, with Hurst and Smith, we have two (at least) direct connections to the notorious Force Research Unit, at Thiepval Barracks, in Lisburn.
Obviously, we are nowhere near the end of this business.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 News are on the case (but, surprisingly?) it isn’t on their web-site.