The author of a report into press-police relations has said police officers were “shocked” and “amazed” at the level of hospitality enjoyed by senior members of the Metropolitan police.
“Most of the people that I spoke to within the Met felt that people had been receiving excessive hospitality,” Elizabeth Filkin told the Leveson Inquiry this afternoon.
The former parliamentary commissioner for standards, whose report into the ethical issues arising from the relationship between the media and police was published at the start of this year, also told the Inquiry that information about senior officers’ private lives was kept out of the media by journalists who received exclusive stories “as a trade”.
Filkin had spoken to Metropolitan police staff, politicians and journalists as part of her inquiry.
She said that officers told her they would not use the Met’s internal whistleblower service because they did not trust it. “There were concerns or fears about their future if they were regarded, in their terms that they used to me, as a troublemaker,” she added.
Filkin also said that almost all police officers who spoke to her told her the force was harmed by leaks to the press and that Met staff were “loath” to tell staff they were carrying out inquiries into leaks.
Reiterating her report’s recommendations, Filkin called for contact between the police and media to be more transparent, suggesting it be recorded.
Agreeing with Filkin’s suggestions, Roger Baker, of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) told the Inquiry that officers should keep a record of discussions with the media “so that there can be a record of it to safeguard the public”.
“There needs to be a real clarity on what is appropriate and what isn’t,” Baker added later. “If no clarity on rules, you can’t regulate.”
The HMIC published a report last December entitled Without Fear or Favour, which looked into police relations and integrity. It recommended a more consistent approach country-wide on sending out a clearer message to staff on what is acceptable in terms of hospitality, relationships and information disclosure.
The Inquiry continues tomorrow, with evidence from former Metropolitan police staff.
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