Today we tell how Mr Mohan also:
- MAINTAINS inextricably close links to The Sun
- WAS ACCUSED of signing off payments to an alleged medical records thief
- IS PERSONAL friends with new Sun Editor-in-Chief Victoria Newton – his co-accused in High Court phone-hacking allegations
- WAS GROOMED for a top slot in Murdoch’s corporation by controversial CEO Rebekah Brooks, while;
- THE SUN has been widely criticised for publishing more than 40 stories since she was arrested, and:
- MS FLACK’S ex-boyfriend hit out at PR “w*****s” for not supporting her enough
By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
CAROLINE Flack was being advised on “crisis management” in the six weeks before her death by a former editor of The Sun with alleged links to phone hacking and the use of illegal private investigators, Byline Investigates can reveal.
Dominic Mohan, whose former paper was forced to take down a story published the day before her suicide that mocked Ms Flack, was “recruited” to “help” the troubled television presenter in the run up to her trial for alleged assault.
The news comes hours after Ms Flack’s ex-boyfriend Andrew Brady, from Cheshire, slammed “PR w***ers” who “knew she needed help and you did f*** all” – and as her management company Money Management UK continues to advertise her client profile on its website.
The Sun and its tabloid rivals have been at the eye of a storm of criticism for fuelling continued coverage of Ms Flack’s personal circumstances by printing and republishing social media commentary about her.
Indeed, in a Tweet on February 8, Mr Mohan himself described as “insightful” an article by Jeremy Clarkson in which The Sun columnist ridiculed Ms Flack’s final Instagram post for its grammar.
Byline Investigates can now tell how Mr Mohan was appointed Ms Flack’s “crisis public relations” manager, with a brief to look after her interests, in January.
However, the journalist, who joined The Sun in 1996, working on its Bizarre showbiz column alongside Andy Coulson – who would later go on to be convicted of phone hacking offences at the Old Bailey in 2014 – has himself been accused in the High Court of co-running a Sun editorial team that signed off cash payments to a private investigator who, it is alleged, illegally obtained medical records.
Among the alleged victims of The Sun’s allegedly unlawful news-gathering were a singer’s suicidal family member, victims of the 7/7 terrorism attacks on London, an actor’s dead toddler son, a drug-overdose television star, a captain of industry while they were dying, an entertainer suffering miscarriage, an actor during rehabilitation for alcoholism, a Hollywood couple’s child in hospital, a TV star getting liposuction, and a member of the public who died after childbirth.
These allegations, alongside many others relating to allegedly industrial-scale ‘unlawful information gathering’ by The Sun, will be tested by the Court when it is asked to make findings at a hearing scheduled to take place in October this year.
Ms Flack was found dead on Saturday this week at her North London apartment, provoking an outpouring of national dismay, and leading a spokesman for Boris Johnson yesterday (February 17) to say of controversial online media content: “The industry must continue their efforts to go further. We expect them to have robust processes in place removing content breaching their acceptable use policies.”
On the same day as the remark, the MailOnline chose to publish interior photographs of the apartment in which Ms Flack’s body was found by a family member on Saturday.
As Byline Investigates published this story, a petition urging the Government to: “Consider a law that would make it a criminal offence, not dissimilar to Corporate Manslaughter, for the British Media to knowingly and relentlessly bully a person, whether they be in the public eye or not, up to the point that they take their own life,” had reached 712,795 signatures.
Since the announcement of the Love Island presenter’s death, both The Sun and unnamed members of her “management team” have sought to shift blame for her apparent suicide on to the Crown Prosecution Service.
This is because, they claim, the CPS informed Ms Flack’s lawyers, shortly before her death, of a decision to press ahead with assault allegations against her.
However, Ms Flack’s former partner Andrew Brady took particular aim at Dan Wootton of The Sun and Money Management in a piece written on his personal blog yesterday.
Mr Brady wrote: “[To] Money Management, you knew how dedicated Caroline was. You knew how hurtful this industry was to her. You knew she needed help. I had a conversation with your team surrounding her mental health on several occasions, and I made you aware of precisely this outcome if you allowed it to continue. You had countless opportunities to get her help, and you didn’t.”
On December 13 last year, Ms Flack was charged with domestic violence against her boyfriend Lewis Burton.
An inquest into the circumstances of Ms Flack’s death is due to open tomorrow at 10am at Poplar Coroners’ Court, when it expected to be adjourned to a date to be set.
Sources close to The Sun have told Byline Investigates that Mr Mohan was appointed around six weeks ago to deal with the press and TV issues that arose from the allegations against her.
Dominic Mohan: a controversial tabloid journalist
He has repeatedly been accused of involvement in allegations of phone hacking and medical records blagging in long-running litigation at the High Court.
Scores of claimants are suing The Sun’s parent company News Group Newspapers for industrial-scale allegations of privacy breaches.
Many of the allegations relate to Mr Mohan’s editorship of the Bizarre showbiz column between 1998 and 2003.
He went on to become the paper’s Assistant Editor and columnist before being made Associate Editor (Features) in 2004, Deputy Editor in 2007 – and appointment made by Rebekah Brooks, who was found not guilty on phone hacking and corruption charges at the Old Bailey in 2014 – and then eventually became Editor between 2009 and 2012.
Mr Mohan has also been accused of giving inaccurate testimony to the 2012 part of the Leveson Inquiry into press conduct about his knowledge of private investigators, in which he denied knowingly using their illegal services, although he admitted using “legitimate” so-called “search agents”.
However, among evidence already exhibited in claimants’ skeleton arguments deployed at the High Court in London in June 2017 were examples of emails between Mr Mohan and Sun reporter Caroline Iggulden discussing the use of a PI firm called ‘Express Locate International’ (ELI), which is today recognised as Britain’s most prolific known supplier of information obtained illegally by deception (known as blagging).
The court document states: “In relation to The Sun the Defendant has disclosed yet more documents which demonstrate that illegal information gathering was rife at the newspaper during this period.
“Of particular note are the following documents: “a. Document 270 – An email dated 14 March 2006 from Caroline Iggulden to Dominic Mohan, Editor of The Sun, which states: “ELI rang him posing as the phone company and he said his surname was Taf. But obviously if we use that he might guess how we got it as he didn’t mention this name during our conversation.”
In November 2019, Byline Investigates reported from the High Court that Mr Mohan was one of twelve editors at The Sun who have been accused of phone hacking and commissioning illegal private investigators.
The court was told that Mr Mohan’s byline appeared on “suspicious’ articles”.
Later in the proceedings, heard on October 31 and November 1 last year in Court 31 of the Rolls Building in London, a lawyer for the Claimants said Mr Mohan was allegedly involved in “concealment” and “authorisation” of alleged illegal activities – which NGN denies.
In October 2017, the High Court heard that Dominic Mohan and his ex-co-columnist Victoria Newton repeatedly used private investigators to illegally obtain people’s private data for stories.
The damaging allegations undermined the paper’s denials of wrongdoing to the first part of the Leveson Inquiry.
Mr Mohan was named multiple times in thousands of documents which Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers has been forced to hand over to claimants alleging phone hacking at the tabloid.
In July 2018 Mohan was named as one of 50 serving or former Rupert Murdoch journalists – many very senior – who allegedly used private investigators.
Before that the claimants alleged a “hub of illegality” existed in The Sun’s newsroom where “key players” paid for the private medical information. Mr Mohan was alleged to be one of the “editorial approvers” of cash payments, which also include Rebekah Brooks, and ex-senior Sun executive Geoff Webster.
Byline Investigates has put this story to Mr Mohan, Money Management, and News UK for comment, and will update it in due course.
- Byline Investigates is a news site devoted to uncovering wrongdoing and hypocrisy in the mainstream media. If you have a story you would like us to cover, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org