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
News
people
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
Supersize art

Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
James Dean: Back on the big screen

James Dean: Back on the big screen

As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
10 best activity books for children

10 best activity books for children

Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

Politicians urged to find radical solution
Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

Ukraine crisis

How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

A history of the First World War in 100 moments
Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?