Chapter 27 – The Daily Chronicle
The Editor of the Daily Chronicle had been appointed to the Royal Commission to review press behaviour following the tragic death of Lady Diana, The Princess of Wales. One of the few women on the panel. The inquest into the horrific car crash in a Paris underpass that had caused Diana’s death, had concluded that press intrusion had contributed to the accident. It had emerged that the Mercedes luxury saloon she had been travelling in, was being chased at high speed by scores of paparazzi on motor bikes and scooters.
Later it emerged that the press had breached privacy by hacking the voicemails and mobile phones of the Royal Family, both at the time of the accident and also afterwards. The Daily Chronicle was not the worst offender, but had been cited in more than one incident of hacking. The Editor kept her job, but it meant she wasn’t going to break the rules again.
However she was a shrewd hack and knew a damn good story when she saw one. She liked Cathy, she was a gifted journalist and would go far, but she also knew that in her enthusiasm for a story, Cathy often bent the rules. The Editor wanted verification of the story, and had spoken to her quietly in her office, and then sent her a carefully worded email that would form the basis of an audit trail later. Cathy understood the game.
At 7.32 PM, Cathy placed a call from her office phone to a mobile number. She placed it on her office phone because all calls were recorded, and she also knew that the time would be recorded accurately to 1,000th of a second. The person who answered his mobile phone was the Head of Police Pathology and Forensic Crime at Hampshire Constabulary. The name and number had not been hard to find. The name was on the internet, the mobile phone number took Martha two calls to get and a promise of a lunch ‘sometime soon.’
Cathy was polite, apologised for calling so late, but said she was a journalist on a deadline and wanted clarification of a story for her Editor. She used her practiced honey tones, and was slightly provocative and flirtatious in her language, which she knew worked well on most men. It would also mean the male person on the call, would be less willing to have the audio recording of the call made public later.
Cathy said in her little girl voice, ‘this really is quite difficult for me, I’m not used to calling men of such experience as you, but are there any special details of the murder yesterday that we should know. I’m afraid my Editor has had to go out to an important dinner at the Palace, and I have to ask these questions?’
‘Well Cathy, I cannot comment at all on the murder enquiry my job is to examine the bodies for evidence.’
‘I see, but have you found anything unusual about the bodies? I hate the idea of dead bodies, all that blood and stuff.’
‘This is certainly one of the most gruesome double murders I have seen in a long time.’
‘Gruesome, sounds like something out of the Middle Ages. How horrible.’
Cathy was carefully calculating by a reference to the Middle Ages, she was hoping this may open the man up.
‘It certainly is horrible, I have never seen anything like it’.
‘I can’t tell you that Cathy.’
‘Was it like one of those Middle Age horror stories, like being shot with an arrow, or having your head chopped off with an axe?’
‘Something like that, but I can say no more.’
‘Thank you’, said Cathy, ‘you have been most helpful’.
She then hung-up.
Martha put down her headset. Cathy stood and gave Martha a high five. ‘Result!’
The Editor listened to the tape and sanctioned the next step of the operation which was to send a transcript of the article to Hampshire Constabulary for comment by 9 PM. The story would now include a ‘double denial’ from the Pathologist, effectively saying they do not deny these incidents happened.
At 8.55 PM, the story was emailed together with an internet link to the sound track of the taped phone conversation with the Pathologist.
The timing was significant, because this gave Hampshire Police just one hour to persuade a Judge at the High Court to issue an injunction to stop the story from being published. If no injunction was received the presses would begin to roll at 10.30 PM. At midnight the newspapers sales team would begin to syndicate the story around the world, which could well appear in the later editions of the other British Sunday morning papers. In any case the Daily Chronicle’s website would be live with the story in a few hours, which would then get syndicated by news wires world-wide.
Hampshire Police had just one hour and 5 minutes to keep the genie in the bottle. They failed.