The Indy article here has some amazing details on the Steve Whittamore scandal that happened in 2003 (and no one seemed to care that much about at the time, certainly there wasn't a public inquiry or any arrests).
A former police officer has revealed how the authorities have known for more than eight years the vast scale on which media organisations employed private detectives to obtain the personal information of thousands of individuals, including the families and friends of murder victims .
The Independent has conducted a detailed examination of the files seized as part of Operation Motorman in 2003, and has been told by the lead investigator on that inquiry that his team was forbidden from interviewing journalists who were paying for criminal records checks, vehicle registration searches, and other illegal practicesThe former officer says eg :
When we enlightened them with what we'd found I was subsequently told, within a few days, that we [the investigations unit] weren't allowed to talk to journalists and that he [the Information Commissioner] would deal with the press. It was fear, they were frightened
We told them what our plan of action was. We intended to put together 30 or 40 prosecution packages and then go for conspiracy, which would involve the blaggers, the private detectives, the corrupt sellers of the information, right up to the journalists.
And what about this ?When I mentioned the press, I still remember the words which one of them said: "We can't take them on, they're too big for us."
I was not present at the Whittamore court case but I was told that the first thing the judge said was a comment about not seeing any journalists in the dockThis case involved journalists from nearly all the major press organisations.
But not Milly Dowler - is that the big difference ??