Revealed: Cameron supercop’s company mired in bugging and hacking allegations

by Atul Hatwal

In the week that newspaper hacking exploded back onto the front pages, it has emerged that the company run by David Cameron’s American crime tsar, Bill Bratton, is mired in a British court case accused of illegal bugging and hacking.

Bill Bratton, a former chief of the LA Police Department is chairman of the private detective agency, Kroll. In June this year, Kroll were accused in court papers by Dr. Martin Coward, a leading city investment manager, of planting covert surveillance devices in his house in Steyning, West Sussex.

Coward claims that Kroll agents illegally broke into his property last December and hid bugs and video cameras in the kitchen and in the fireplace of his study as well as a GPS tracking device in his car.

Evidence referenced in the court papers included the surveillance devices and, most extraordinarily, a video made inadvertently by the bungling snoopers on the surveillance cameras as they were planting them.

Following the hacking allegations against Andy Coulson, these accusations involving David Cameron’s latest appointment will raise new doubts about the prime minister’s judgement.

In July David Cameron described illegal hacking as, “…simply disgusting”. He went on to express regret about hiring Andy Coulson, telling MPs that with hindsight “I would not have offered him the job and I expect that he wouldn’t have taken it”.

But the court case involving Bratton’s company has been in the public domain since June and widely reported in the media.

In a move reminiscent of the approach to Andy Coulson’s appointment, no one in Number Ten seems to have completed even a cursory background check on Bratton and Kroll.

Kroll’s position in such a high profile court case raises questions on whether Bratton can continue to advise the prime minister on law and order issues while his company is in the dock accused of serious criminality.

This is not the first time that Kroll has found itself in court.

In 2004, five senior Kroll executives in Brazil were arrested for illegal surveillance of a Brazillian subsidiary of Telecom Italia on behalf of Brasil Telecom.

The targets were alleged to have included advisers to President Lula and prompted the then Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, to raise the issue at the highest levels with the Brazillian government.

Senior figures in the British police have long been sceptical about Bill Bratton. In response to David Cameron’s initial desire to make Bratton the new Met Commissioner, Sir Hugh Orde, president of the association of chief police officers was dismissive saying,

“The notion that you can ship someone in from another country to run a police force in a different environment and different culture is quite simply stupid”.

Following Bratton’s appointment last week as an advisor to the prime minister on tackling gang culture in the aftermath of the riots, Orde could scarcely conceal his frustration, telling the Independent on Sunday,

“I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area that has over 400 of them. It seems to me if you’ve got 400 gangs then you’re not being very effective. If you look at the style of policing in the states, and their level of violence, they are fundamentally different to over here”.

These new allegations of Bratton’s American company bugging a British citizen are likely to confirm the suspicions held by Orde and his senior colleagues in the police force.

Kroll’s ominous corporate motto is “When you need to know, call Kroll”. It is startling, as the criminal investigations pile up into his friends and former employees in News International, that the prime minister has done just that.

Atul Hatwal is associate editor of Labour Uncut.


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4 Responses to “Revealed: Cameron supercop’s company mired in bugging and hacking allegations”

  1. Richard says:

    Perfectly consistent recruitment policy at N° 10 then.

  2. Henrik says:

    Kroll performs corporate investigations and sometimes falls out with local jurisdictions? Hold the front page. In other news, bears exercise lavatorial preferences in densely wooded areas and prominent German cleric espouses Catholic faith.

    Yawn. Non-story.

  3. Given its content I’m surprised this article hasn’t received more media coverage. Good read, Atul.

  4. SupaCop Bill Bratton firm Kroll alleged Corruption with City London Police.
    Docs revealed in court show how Kroll got City London Police to spend £1m pursuing what Sussex Police confirmed was ‘civil matter’.
    Info at http://www.policeexpenses.co.uk

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