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Bugs, strip-searches and gagging orders – The bizarre story of Her Majesty versus Sally Murrer… (and some even more bizarre claims from Private Eye)

with 14 comments

The press freedom organisation Reporters Sans Frontieres doesn’t usually have too much to say about abuses against media workers here in Britain, but their latest report details some worrying cases – none stranger than the ongoing trial of the Milton Keynes local journalist Sally Murrer.

In May last year, Murrer was arrested by eight police officers, strip-searched and charged with “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office”. She was then accused of paying police officers to supply her with information for stories she could then sell on to the national press, a charge which she firmly denies. The police told her that she had been under surveillance for weeks, and played her recordings of telephone conversations she had had with her friend Mark Kearney, a Thames Valley police officer, which they said proved the case. Murrer was told that they already had enough information to send her to prison for life, and that the police need only show that she had heard information deemed ‘sensitive’ in order to convict her. Kearney and a former police officer Derek Webb (now a private investigator), have also been charged in the same case.

Then in February this year, it was revealed that Mark Kearney had been involved in the secret bugging of the Labour MP and lawyer, Sadiq Khan, during his visits to a childhood friend, Babar Ahmad, who has been detained without charge for several years, pending extradition to the United States (where he is accused of involvement in terrorism). Kearney claims that he repeatedly raised ethical and legal concerns about the work he had been asked to do. He and Murrer believe that the case being brought against him – and Murrer – was a somewhat clumsy attempt to prevent him from blowing the whistle.

Now the print edition of the magazine Private Eye reports an even more bizarre twist. The Eye claims that the detective-turned-private-investigator Derek Webb had been carrying out surveillance operations for the tabloid press against a number of high-profile public figures suspected of having affairs. These reportedly include two un-named (due to the usual legal gagging orders) cabinet ministers, together with the infamous former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, and the director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald – the man in charge of the department overseeing the case against Webb, Kearney and Murrer. The police seized Derek Webb’s diaries (in which he details his surveillance work) as evidence to be used in the case case against him. Now the crown prosecution service has reportedly declined requests by Webb’s defence team for access to the diaries, claiming that it no longer has them…

14 Responses

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  1. I think is very troubling. There are certain laws in place that govern what is and what isn’t lawfully acceptable and those guidelines need to be followed. These infractions must be fixed quickly!

    Private Investigator

    September 2, 2008 at 9:25 pm

  2. “Babar Ahmad, who has been detained without charge for several years, pending extradition to the United States”

    Surely that can’t be right. Is it supposed to say ‘detained without trial’?

    da finks

    September 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

  3. Good point – from what I can gather, he was arrested at the request of the US, after a US court issued a charge against him, but has never been charged in the UK or, as I understand it, had the chance to challenge the basis on which he was charged in the US.

    The terms of the extradition agreement the UK signed with the US mean that they do not need to present prima facie evidence to support such requests… I should probably make an amend to reflect all of this. There’s some more background here:


    September 5, 2008 at 8:57 pm

  4. […] cited the case of Sally Murrer, who is currently on trial for allegedly receiving information from a police officer that he had […]

  5. da fink,

    It’s not right, but it is a fact, Babar Ahmad still does not face any charges under British Law and he may be extradited to the US without ever having the chance to challenge any evidence presented by the US against him.

    More info on his case is here:


    September 19, 2008 at 2:13 am

  6. A quote from Babar Ahmad:

    “I find it strange that people in the UK are arguing today whether it is humane to detain someone without charge beyond 28 days, e.g. up to 42 days, when I have already been detained without charge for nearly four years. Such debates are smokescreens to hide the real injustices that are happening in Britain today.” – Babar Ahmad, Britain’s longest detained-without-charge British detainee, held as part of the ‘War of Terror’.


    September 19, 2008 at 12:22 pm

  7. […] Top Posts Echoes of Sally Murrer case as senior UK opposition politician arrested by counter-terrorism policeVideo: Alexis Sinduhije mobbed by well-wishers ahead of his court appearance for “insulting the President”Sarah Palin, Africa, and the Harding Institute for Freedom and DemocracyBugs, strip-searches and gagging orders – The bizarre story of Her Majesty versus Sally Murrer… (a… […]

  8. […] Vindictive prosecution falls apart as journalist Sally Murrer is cleared of all charges November 28, 2008 Just one day after the shadow Home Office minister Damian Green was arrested by nine counter-terrorism officers on suspicion of “aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office” – an arcane charge stemming from his publishing embarrassing revelations from a government whistleblower, news was released that the local journalist Sally Murrer had been fully cleared of a similar charge, in a costly court case which has been dragging on since May 2007. […]

  9. […] police who recklessly fail in their duty. It has never been used against a “watchdog” until R v Kearney and Murrer. The latter was a local newspaper journalist charged by Thames Valley Police with “aiding and […]

  10. В очередной раз убеждаюсь, что замечательных людей в стране много)


    August 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm

  11. Видел это у кого-то вконтакте. Может это были Вы???


    August 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm

  12. Уроки не даёте случаем?)))


    August 3, 2011 at 4:46 am

  13. Не жалею, что потратил пару минут и зашёл к Вам!


    August 3, 2011 at 5:34 am

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