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back to article Cops cuff journo over anonymous plod blogger unmasking

Scotland Yard officers arrested a 28-year-old man this morning on suspicion of computer hacking relating to the identification of a previously anonymous blogger in 2009. The Met said the suspect is a journalist and that he was cuffed as part of the force's Operation Tuleta investigation into alleged computer hacking by …

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Best news all day! Woohooooo!

For those of you unaware, the Nightjack blog is WELL worth a read. In a few hours it re-wrote many of my preconceptions regarding our police and legal system. Here was a man, with an insightful and valuable message, conveyed in an interesting manner.

And yet some hack had to go and unmask him, and cost him his job. Because he could. Out of jealousy, spite or desperation for a few column inches.

One bad journo broke the law to take down a good amateur journo and a decent, honest copper.

I hope they put him in a cell with Bubba.

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Absolutely

I was a regular reader of Nightjack, and it was an absolute pleasure - informative words from a humane and intelligent man. Someone always has to ruin things, and I'm glad that idiot journalist is facing court for what he did.

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99% agree

... it was hardly in the public interest to unmask Nightjack - on the contrary, it was in the public interest for him to be able to carry on blogging.

I have to disagree 1% because of the Bubba comment. I realise it's a joke but I think we need to distance ourselves from the idea that we give people custodial sentences in the expectation (let alone hope) that they will be bullied or even sexually assaulted by other inmates. That's a tad uncivilized IMHO.

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Anonymous Coward

Because he could ?

Although it might sound a tad conspiritorial, my guess is that the journo in question was told to. There has been a long running campaign against blogging and free (as in beer) content on the web by the Murdoch press, and the unmasking of Nightjack was probably a part of it.

The thrust of their reporting at the time was "ooh look, police blogs are a Really Bad Thing because they can be used to violate the anonymity of victims of crime". They neglected to point out that the only idenification of victims described ehose plight had been described on the blog was by their own hacks.

The irony of this in the light of more recent events is almost unbelievable.

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Big Brother

Re: Conspiracies

I always have a laugh when people think the government is involved in some sort of conspiracy; especially when I remember that these are the same governments where their leaders will walk around with secret documents in full view of journalists; leave USB drives full of confidential info on the bus; or even fall asleep on the train with sensitive data shown on their laptops. These people have issues literally covering their own asses, let alone conspiracies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Conspiracies

And where did the OP (me) say the government was involved ?

As a regular Times/Sunday Times reader, I can say for sure that there has been an ongoing campaign against blogs and free journalistic content (mainly in the commentary rather than the news sections). Presumably, and not unresonably, this is because it is seen as a threat to paid-for content.

My point was that the unmasking of Nightjack would have been consistent with the aims of this campaign, and the outing of whistle-blowers is otherwise a very odd thing for any publication to do - would you go to them if you had information that was in the public interest but would cause you grief if you were idenified as the source ?

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Facepalm

(Sorry, that wasn't clear: It cost Nightjack his 'job' as a blogger, not a police officer. The police force just gave him a warning and made him stop...)

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WTF?

So .. the police sacked the blogger and now prosecute the journo who identified him ? So did they want him identified or not ? And if the source of the evidence was criminally obtained, was the sacking illegal ?

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> sacked the blogger and now prosecute the journo

Sure, why not... If (big IF, I hold no opinion on the subject) the blogger genuinely should have been dismissed it doesn't affect whether or not what the journo did was a crime.

If a blackmailer was blackmailing a murderer you wouldn't want the murderer let off because he was being blackmailed, and you wouldn't want the blackmailer let off because he was blackmailing a murderer.

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Stop

"So .. the police sacked the blogger and now prosecute the journo who identified him ? So did they want him identified or not ? And if the source of the evidence was criminally obtained, was the sacking illegal ?"

See my clarification: He was warned, and told not to blog. He did not lose his job as a policeman.

But anyway... a wrong does not cancel out another wrong. If I steal a car and use it to run a thief off the road, I am still responsible for committing a crime.

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Holmes

Seems it's not the first time he's been done for hacking.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3966045.stm

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Not an illustrious start to a career, is it?

"Well I broke into the shop and stole the goods because it was really easy and I wanted to prove to everyone I could do it. So it's not fair I should be punished."

What a twunt. No doubt he'll fall under the beady 'Eye' for future discussion in the Street of Shame.

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So he's an Oxford PPE graduate who is working as a journalist, first for NI and now for the Guardian. What's the bet he was angling for a political career? Hopefully some constituency has dodged having him as their MP.

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@Bumpy Cat

> working as a journalist, first for NI and now for the Guardian

He appears to be freelancing (does that mean unemployable?), and has submitted articles to the Guardian and Telegraph.

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As I recall

The silly sod admitted he had hacked it, told is editor who pulled a face and then they tried to sweep it under the carpet until it came out at Levenson.

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Re: As I recall

"As I recall The silly sod admitted he had hacked it, told is editor who pulled a face and then they tried to sweep it under the carpet until it came out at Levenson."

Not quite: I believe the editor LIED HIS STINKING ASS OFF about it at Levenson, as far as he could:

"At that time, it was not clear to Mr Chappell or to me exactly what Mr Foster had done, but the suggestion that he had accessed someone’s email account was a matter of great concern to both of us."

That was hardly coming clean in front of a board of enquiry.

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Happy

NightJack is suing News International

more on this at the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/aug/29/times-journalist-arrested-computer-hacking

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Good. I usually go with the assumption that police are demi-criminal thugs and I haven't been too disappointed so far.

This makes it critically important to look after the good, honest, intelligent ones; if for no other reason than to chip away a little at the "them and us" mentality that politicians and the police organisation themselves -especially the Met- seem to be aiming for. More 'policing by consent' and less 'political enforcement by means of sticks and tasers' is definitely called for. Nightjack had it right; and I'm glad that Patrick Foster is going to receive a well-deserved spanking.

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Anonymous Coward

Do you know any?

"...I usually go with the assumption that police are demi-criminal thugs and I haven't been too disappointed so far...."

Aim low, you'll never be disappointed, however if you aim high you may be surprised how rarely you are disappointed.

Do you actually know any police? I suspect not, I know a few and they are all upstanding citizens who do a very hard job and get slagged off for it really rather a lot by people who have no idea about what they do. It's like BMW drivers, the vast majority are perfectly normal drivers, it's the ones who give you a reason to remember them (ie: drive like an arse) that give the majority the bad name.

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Re: Do you know any?

My own personal experience. Had I had different experiences then I would have typed different things. Sometimes it was me being a dick, of course, and I got my choke chain tugged. Fair enough. Sometimes, however, it wasn't...but being innocent apparently makes little to no difference to the sentencing if it's policemen you're being stitched up by.

I grew up believing in the police; in justice; and that the innocent had nothing to fear. After my experiences in the last 15 years my position defaults to "don't trust the buggers as far as you can spit a hedgehog".

It's not just me with that opinion; although I may be a little more emphatic, having been on the pointy end.

Nightjack was one of the good ones; pointing out the many, many things that are going wrong with modern policing...but doing so from good inside information and with an eloquence that I couldn't hope to match. The enforcement of the political "cause de jour"; the insane management decisions; the quotas (yeah, I know there isn't a quota but if you come back without enough arrests you're going to be asked why); the beancounting...all the things that are turning the police from an independent organisation on the side of justice into lapdogs for whoever happens to be in power today.

I'm sure that there are many decent policepersons. And you do tend to remember the more traumatic experiences rather than the times things go well. Nevertheless policing does attract more than it's share of bullies and -yes- thugs and I expect that seeing the worse side of humanity day in and day out may well change some people for the worse even if they joined up with the best and fluffiest of intentions.

As an organisation and individually -until proved otherwise- the safest position is not to trust the police in my experience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do you know any?

I don't really know where to start, but you say that you're sure there are lots of good Police, you seem to agree that it's only the ones that you remember that colour your opinion and then go on to say never trust them.

I thought like that when I was about 16, but that was at the time of things like the Miners' strike and the Battle of theBeanfield, things are very much different now, you know.

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Stop

Re: Do you know any?

It's not just him. You should never talk to the police.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wXkI4t7nuc

That's a lawyer and a (police) detective both agreeing. Don't trust them, Ever. Don't say anything, until you have talked to council. I'm not saying they aren't mostly good people trying to help their community, I'm saying trusting them is not in your best interest, for a number of reasons.

yes, I know that video is on US law, but it does make the point that "don't trust the police" isn't an anti-police postiion, it's just good advice.

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Vic
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Joke

Re: Do you know any?

> It's like BMW drivers

It's that tiny 99% minority that give the rest a bad name...

Vic.

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Can we have some more please?

I wonder how much police effort was put into this arrest and how much information Nightjack contributed to it? It was all worthwhile..

We need more Nightjack style insider info from police, NHS, MOD and other hot beds of intrigue, so this arrest may help to encourage others to blog. After all, the government is supposed to be encouraging whistle blowers and I see this kind of anonymous blogging as just a bit of precaution, as whistle blowers continue to become ostracised by colleagues and lose their jobs.

I have tried to get NHS staff and others to contribute to an anonymous blog, but there are sadly no takers willing to write, to talk, or who will go out on a limb. We cannot leave all this to Private Eye, surely?

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Re: Can we have some more please?

Nightjack (archive)

Inspector Gadget

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Anonymous Coward

Anonymous blogs

Should be hosted offshore and accessed via Tor, or something like that.

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Meh

The *first* duty of a newspaper

Is to *sell( newspapers.

Unmasking a popular but anonymous blogger sells *newspapers*.

At News International everything else is *secondary*.

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Anonymous Coward

No one is above the law

Especially Hacks.

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Gimp

Why not?

Give the plod an honour imo

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Anonymous Coward

Lessons to be learned

When you think you are above the law, you are in for a rude reality check.

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