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Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Cosy relationship with press 'not just police'

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The Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, investigating allegations of illegal payments by journalists, told the Leveson inquiry into press standards yesterday that she has evidence of a network of "corrupted officials" and that there appeared to have been "a culture of illegal payments" at the Sun.

Speaking to the Today programme's James Naughtie, the former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said that while he does not think the last Labour government did anything corrupt while in power, he accepts that politicians were "too keen to curry favour" and make their agenda attractive to News International.

Lord Falconer said it was "not remotely inconceivable" that, if politicians thought it was acceptable to court the media, other public officials might follow.

He went on to say that he regretted that the relationship politicians had with the media, saying "the effect has been in part that other parts of public life would feel it was legitimate to get into an over cosy relationship with the press".

Sir Chris Fox, former head of Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said that he accepted that this was very serious and insidious but that "this is a cultural thing not just a police thing".

He said that the police are very aware of the damage newspaper headlines can do to the police but "to give away salacious details or indiscretions destroys any confidence police have with the public."

Sir Chris said these allegations would "sharpen up every police officers view of standards and a new culture will arise" but pointed out that there is an issue of balance in that these particular allegations focuses on Fleet Street and the Met and is not across the board.

Simon Jenkins, Guardian columnist and former editor of the Times and the Evening Standard, said it became a "running fixation" on Downing Street by Alistair Campbell to stay in favour with the press following the 1992 election in which Labour believed it lost the election because of the Sun but he questioned how much you can blame the press for that.

He added that "the opening up of ethical sores is not a bad thing."


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