Recordings have surfaced that suggest the private security of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was compromised, and he was the target of a media vendetta after his paper exposed the phone hacking scandal.
In the first recording from the January 10 2013, former private detective Jonathan Rees, twice arrested under suspicion of murdering his former partner Daniel Morgan, and jailed for perverting the course of justice in 2000, can be heard explaining how Rusbridger’s enemies got access to details of his personal life, and that he was subject to a vendetta for exposing the rampant phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s News International, which led to the closure of News of the World in July 2011.
“People have suffered,” Rees agreed: “Did they honestly believe when they started all this that “people would forget?”
Rees was asked whether there was a lot of anger at the Guardian from people “fucked off at the way they wrecked the industry.”
“People have suffered,” Rees agreed: “Did they honestly believe when they started all this that ‘people would forget?'”
He then explained details of Rusbridger’s security:
“He’s very, very paranoid:” Rees said: “He must realise that hurting all these people, that some people will come back. Obviously he knows where all the skeletons… He must know a bit of what we know. He’s very paranoid and he thinks he’s under surveillance the whole time. He pays a thousand, nearly two thousand pounds a timem once every month, or once every couple of months, to have his house debugged. I know the chap whose doing it…he’s got a little office…”
In an extraordinary admission, Rees then goes on to suggest that the ‘ex military’ surveillance experts hired by Rusbridger were feeding information back his enemies.
In the first recording Rees goes into great detail about Rusbridger’s wife, children and the location and style of his house overlooking some canals. There is additional gossip about “foetid socks” under the desk of Rusbridger’s private home office.
Asked if the counter surveillance team had found anything, Rees demurs, but adds: “Nice to see he’s looking over his shoulder. He’s paranoid.”
Later that month, in another conversation recorded at his Surrey home, Rees claimed: “I’m going to smash the Guardian down, Rusbridger and Nick Davies.”
Not only do the taped revelations suggest that the dark arts were alive and well in 2013, involving press vendettas, and possible double agents, but it comes hot of the heels of Rees’ appearance last week at a preliminary hearing of the public inquiry into undercover policing,
Rees claimed: “I’m going to smash the Guardian down, Rusbridger and Nick Davies.”
In a personal statement to the inquiry on 7 October Rees made a bid to become a core participant at the Pitchford Inquiry. He claimed that he and Southern Investigations were also targeted by illegal and or unethical surveillance because a former police officer, Derek Haslam, acted as a confidential informant for the Met over the private detective agency’s work.
“We didn’t realise, it wasn’t till 2006 that we received anonymously from a source a document in the post which was a small window of information, a six-week report, of his reports to his police handlers who were very, very senior police officers, one ex-Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, one deputy assistant and numerous other very senior police officers, and he was reporting directly to them. We didn’t know this until 2006”
What Rees did not tell the Pitchford Inquiry was that the identity of Haslam had been revealed though an illegal eblaster Trojan on his computer; “we exposed Haslam” Rees boasted in 2013.
Rees also failed to mention that the surveillance of Southern Investigations – a detective company notorious for bribing police officers, and bugging, blagging and burglary to get stories for the press – was because it was being investigated over the murder of Daniel Morgan.
UPDATE: Nick Davies suggests Rusbridger hired the additional protection during the height of the Milly Dowler scandal.
His book Hack Attack documents the incident like this:
“I was still picking up warnings that there might be some kind of surveillance on me and the Guardian editor. On my advice, Rusbridger commissioned an upmarket security consultancy to make sure there was no listening device in his home. Stupidly, the consultancy subcontracted the job to a specialist who was close friends with the group of corrupt investigators around Jonathan Rees, thus creating the risk which they were supposed to eliminate.The specialist, we heard, searched through paperwork in Rusbridger’s study and possibly photographed pages from his private diary.”