By Raphael Satter
AP/Brisbane Times, April 10, 2012
The names of three dozen journalists allegedly involved with a shady private investigator have been leaked to the internet, posing another potential embarrassment for Britain's scandal-tarred media.
Paul Staines, who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes, on Tuesday published what he said were more than 1000 recorded transactions between staffers at Rupert Murdoch's News International and freelance detective Steve Whittamore, who was convicted of trading in illegally obtained information.
In a blog post, Staines said he wanted to expose "industrial scale criminality" perpetrated by Britain's press, accusing newspaper groups of refusing to name names because they "do not wish to report their own crimes."
Whittamore worked with hundreds of reporters, breaking or bending the law to keep clients supplied with unlisted numbers, vehicle registrations records, and other confidential information. The private eye was convicted in 2005, but none of the journalists named in his files were ever punished.
Interest in Whittamore and his associates has been revived by Britain's phone hacking scandal, which erupted last year after it emerged that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid routinely hacked phones and bribed officials to win scoops.
Several organisations - including the Guardian, The Independent, and ITV News - have run stories based on the documents recovered from Whittamore's office, but so far none have identified the journalists involved.
Staines did so Tuesday, publishing a spreadsheet naming 35 journalists from News International - a small subset of the more than 300 reporters named in Whittamore's files.
A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office - which investigated Whittamore - declined to authenticate the spreadsheet, but in a statement his organisation said that authorities had been mulling whether to release the information before it appeared online.
"It's most unfortunate that Guido Fawkes has chosen to jump the gun," the statement said.
News International did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
"Timeline: Mail on Sunday and private investigator Steve Whittamore" - The Guardian, January 11, 2012