Police warned on press 'flirting'


Metropolitan Police officers have been warned against “late night carousing” and alcohol-fuelled “flirting” with journalists in an official inquiry report which castigates senior Scotland Yard figures for their cosy relationships with the media.

Officers have been told they must in future record in their notebooks details of conversations with journalists and inform Scotland Yard of friends or relatives who are employed in the media.

Elizabeth Filkin, the former parliamentary commissioner for standards, said the “improper disclosure of information” from Scotland yard was “damaging to the public, the Metropolitan Police service and to the policing of London”. Releasing her report today she said: I did identify a number of serious problems, some in my view very serious.”

Ms Filkin was asked to investigate the subject after the phone-hacking scandal revealed the intimacy of Scotland Yard and News International. “There was speculation that cosy relationships involving excessive hospitality, between some senior police officers and News of the World journalists, undermined the willingness of the police to pursue possible criminal offences,” said Ms Filkin.

Her report – based on interviews with police of different ranks, Metropolitan Police staff and media workers - contained scathing criticism of the Yard’s higher echelons. “It was said by some police officers and staff that there appeared to be one rule for senior contact with the media and another for the rest of the organisation.”

Nick Hardwick, former chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was quoted saying: “I think that there was a set of very unhealthy relationships in the senior team at the Met. Some weren’t just briefing against us (the IPCC) but they were briefing against each other.”

Ms Filkin was told that media hospitality had become a problem. “Many of those who spoke to me said that a culture had developed, at some senior levels in the organisation, which made it normal, and in some cases expected, that contact with the media would be close,” she said. “Hospitality which is now widely considered inappropriate was accepted.”

Responding to the report today, Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe agreed to greater openness in relations with the media and said: “Meetings will no longer be enhanced by hospitality and alcohol.”

Ms Filkin uncovered a culture of leaking information, which was both authorised and unauthorised. Some officers tipped off the media for reasons including “vanity, ‘buzz’, flirtation, a sense of power and control and professional advantage”. But the Scotland Yard press office was also seen as “impartial”. One officer alleged to Ms Filkin that a story about a tragic death had been leaked by the press office ahead of the victim’s family being informed because the Yard was trying to “prevent the publication of damaging information” about a member of the Metropolitan police management board.

The report called on Scotland Yard to improve public trust by being more transparent in its dealings with the media. Briefings should be given on the record to minimise attribution to “police sources” and in the “tea and coffee territory” of a police station or incident room.

It offered police officers a warning guide to “ten tactics” used by the media, including “yet another bottle of wine at lunch”, and “flirting…designed to get you to drop your defences and say far more than you intended”. As a final piece of advice to the force which has seen its reputation tarnished by its failures investigating phone-hacking, the report warned: “It may help to assume you are being recorded when you talk to journalists.”

Ms Filkin also recommended that Scotland Yard be less reliant on the national print media. She quoted former Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, who resigned in July over his links to the former News of the World editor Neil Wallis. “The [Metropolitan Police] should bother a little less about parts of the written media,” said Sir Paul. “And invest heavily in both internal communications and its ability to communicate directly with people via new social media opportunities.”

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam