6 Jul 2011

Rebekah Brooks met police over ‘media intrusion’

Following the Channel 4 News revelation that a police detective was under surveillance by News of the World journalists, the Met confirms that Rebekah Brooks was aware that the officer was targeted.

The Metropolitan Police have told Channel 4 News that in 2003 officers met the former editor of the News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, over claims that a police officer was shadowed by journalists from the paper.

The allegations – exclusively revealed by Channel 4 News on Tuesday – involve a surveillance operation during a crucial murder investigation which implicated private investigators who had alleged links to News International.

In 2002 a BBC Crimewatch report investigating a notorious unsolved murder featured senior detective Dave Cook. Later, Cook realised he was being followed after colleagues informed him he was being targeted by journalists at the News of the World.

So concerned were police that a witness protection unit was mobilised along with a counter surveillance team to watch journalists allegedly following Cook.

When finally confronted, the News of the World apparently said they were interested in whether Dave Cook was having an affair with a Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames. They were in fact married at the time.

Jacqui Hames told Channel 4 News that she has been contacted by Operation Weeting detectives investigating the phone hacking scandal.

On Wednesday she voiced fears that her personal details had been sold by someone in the police force to the News of the World.

Brooks meets police

Following the report by Channel 4 News the Metropolitan Police have confirmed the issue of “media intrusion” was addressed with News of the World executives.

Rebekah Brooks – editor of the newspaper at the time and now CEO of News International – was told by police in 2003 that an officer had raised concerns about intrusion.

The outcome of the meeting remains unclear, but both the News of the World and the Metropolitan Police appear never to have spoken about it publicly.

In response to questioning by Channel 4 News, the Metropolitan Police confirmed a meeting took place between Dick Fedorcio – the Met’s longstanding Director of Public Affairs – Commander Andy Baker, Dave Cook and Rebekah Brooks on 9 January 2003.

“The meeting was held to discuss concerns raised by an officer about media intrusion he believed was taking place,” the Met police said, adding that they had “not received any formal complaint relating to the alleged selling of details of a personnel file.”

On Wednesday Channel 4 News wrote to News International asking them to confirm Rebecca Brooks was at the meeting; whether she responded to concerns by Dave Cook; whether she raised the issue with her bosses at News International; and whether any action was taken.

News International told Channel 4 News on Tuesday that they are not aware of the claims that a police officer was targeted, but that any allegations would be investigated.