Corruption in Britain a 'Black Comedy', writes Bell

The Herald columnist, Ian Bell, today writes of “a black comedy” of pretending that corruption does not exist in British public life, following claims yesterday at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards of “a culture at The Sun [newspaper] of illegal payments” to public officials, including police officers.

Writes Bell, in a lengthy piece: “Patronage expressed in cash rewards, with information as a commodity, becomes a weapon.”

He later writes: “Much of this affair has the air of a black comedy. We like to pretend that corruption does not afflict British public life. We then like to pretend that when bad apples do appear a free and fearless press will root them out. Asking why an orchard full of tainted apples can spring up is not our habit.”

Yesterday, Sue Akers, deputy assistant commissionier at the Metropolitan Police told the Leveson Inquiry: “There appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments, and systems have been created to facilitate such payments whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the money.” 

Akers is heading a police investigation into illegal behaviour by journalists.