Leveson: Time to lift the lid on Motorman | Hacking inquiry – Hacked off
There is an open secret at the Leveson inquiry. The judge knows it; the lawyers all know it; the witnesses from the press – including the editors – all know it. In fact only one significant party is kept in the dark: the public in whose name the inquiry acts.And it’s not a small secret but a huge one, an entire database relating to illegal activity carried out at the behest of journalists working for national newspapers over a number of years. Occasionally it is mentioned in public evidence at the inquiry, almost always in vague and general terms. Yet there is nothing vague about it; it brims with detail.It names journalists who commissioned thousands of actions which they must or should have known were, on the face of it, illegal. It records dates and payments for these transactions. It identifies the members of the public who were targets of this activity – thousands of them, although only a handful have been told it happened.This secret has been secret too long, and the prevailing situation at the inquiry, of nudge-nudge-wink-wink exclusive knowledge, cannot be justified legally or morally. The only beneficiaries are journalists who have done wrong and their employers, and a public inquiry into press conduct has no business covering up wrongdoing by journalists.It is time the Motorman files were made public. They should be redacted to protect the privacy of the victims but otherwise they should be published in their entirety and in a way that clearly shows which journalists commissioned what activities for which newspapers at what prices. Then let journalists and newspapers justify their actions if they can.