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Why Did Leveson, Politicians and Police Bury the Real Scandal of the 'Other Hacking' Report?

24/06/2013 09:32 BST | Updated 23/08/2013 10:12 BST

Phone-hacking is wrong. Theft of private information is wrong. Illegally obtaining confidential personal data is wrong.

But such awful behaviour was confined to the activities of a bunch of nasty newspapermen and a handful of unscrupulous private detectives, right?

Anyway, it has now all been fully exposed and put a stop to by Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry and the police investigations into the media, right?

Wrong. In fact that couldn't be more wrong. For a top secret police report buried for five years but finally exposed last weekend reveals that the media were merely bit part players in the illegal hacking industry.

That the real villains - responsible the report says for FOUR TIMES as many hackings, buggings, illegal interceptions, blagging and frauds as the press - were lawyers, big business, celebrities, and tycoons.

So why have the powers-that-be done nothing whatsoever about cracking down on the blue-chip Establishment crooks who committed 80% of the crimes, instead spent £40m and employed almost 200 police detectives to mount high-profile investigations of the press... And kept you, the great British public, completely in the dark about the facts?

Does this bizarre double-standard suggest law officers, politicians and the judiciary have used the bits of the hacking scandal that suits them to try and neuter the free press in this country?

Because, make no mistake, they have ALL been actively involved in both suppressing this official Report and driving forward the agenda to muzzle the media.

The investigation, called Project Riverside, was carried out in 2008 by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca). They analysed police investigations, court cases, intelligence files nationwide to discover the true shocking extent of information theft and hacking.

Breaking the story, the Independent newspaper said: "Some of the UK's most respectable firms have been accused of dirty tricks that make voicemail interception look like child's play".

The truly industrial scale of illegality Project Riverside uncovered is astonishing - listening in real-time to actual phone conversations; blagging bank and tax records; bribing police and so on.

The profile of those paying vast sums to have all this illegality carried out is breath-taking too. One of the most famous names in British showbiz, another extremely well-known media figure, one of the most glittering - and apparently squeaky-clean! - companies in the UK business, a major telecoms firm... The list goes on and on and on.

I know the identities of those tiny handful mentioned above and they are all truly household names.

The sums of money eclipse anything believed paid by the press - well, they would be, the offences involved are far more complex and serious in the criminal sense.

Live telephone eavesdropping for £7,000 a month; computer hacking cost similar; getting itemised private phone bills for £450 a time...

So when the News of the World phone-hacking scandal exploded in 2010-11, why was the dynamite evidence of Project Riverside kept secret?

Soca must have instantly seen it's relevance, and an opportunity to use its report to blow apart the myth that such activity was solely confined to media. That it was actually much more widespread in big business, the law, and among the super-rich and famous.

Scotland Yard was also informed of the findings of Project Riverside too - but as they set up task force after task force to persecute the press they ignored a much bigger problem.

Ministers and Home Office officials knew too - it was circulated to them routinely. They kept silent.

Most blatant of all, the legal profession and in particular Lord Justice Leveson himself knew all about the findings of the vital Soca report.

As he and his main press inquisitor Robert Jay QC - since richly rewarded for his work by promotion to be a Judge himself - assembled evidence for their damning report on the press, they were offered the Project Riverside report.

While not in anyway attempting to exonerate press wrongdoing, it did importantly set it in a vital context - not least that there was much greater criminality going on in our most respected professions.

Lord Justice Leveson declined to accept it. He apparently claimed it was irrelevant - despite it proving that in real terms the press's alleged voicemail interception activities were relatively small beer compared to massive illegality by his own profession.

The witness who believed the report was vital evidence for the Inquiry told me via twitter (@neilwallis1) this weekend that it was only when he threatened to video himself personally hand-delivering the Project Riverside Report to Lord Justice Leveson at his home and then put it on YouTube that it was agreed it could be quietly submitted...

But it was still ignored. Why? How could it be, when the entire future of the freedom of the press appears to hinge on the Leveson report?

MP Keith Vaz is chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. It led the investigations into the phone-hacking allegations against the News of the World.

He must now recall his committee, and get to the bottom of this. He must call SOCA and Scotland Yard, and ask why they sat on this report. He must demand the truth from the Home Office about why they did nothing about its findings.

Most of all he must call Lord Justice Leveson, and his lackey Robert Jay, and demand to know why they ignored and buried this vital report.

The freedom of the British press - and truth - is at stake.