The cop who wanted to be a journalist

And a national inquiry into the news media’s relationship with power

Chiara Milford
6 min readNov 3, 2020

Chief Constable Andy Hayman had “a boyhood aspiration” of becoming a journalist.

In the early 2000s he was in charge of counter-terrorism and protecting Britain’s most powerful elite; the royal family and the prime minister. He studied criminology at Cambridge and rose through the ranks of the police force before becoming one of the highest ranking police officers in the country: Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations at the London Metropolitan police. When he started out as a constable in Norfolk, he probably never thought he would have such an exciting life.

Andy Hayman — Stefan Rousseau/PA

In 2006 he was charged with heading the investigation into the hacking of royal aides’ phones by a popular tabloid.

The News of the World (NotW) was the UK’s biggest selling Sunday paper. Part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, it carried a sordid reputation of reporting on celebrity scoops and sex scandals. When you mention the paper NotW, it’s generally alongside the phone hacking scandal that finally unravelled its tangled relationship with political elites and the police.

The inquiry Hayman chaired was not particularly thorough. They narrowly focused on one specific case, didn’t share all the documents they found, never questioned more than one reporter, and failed to contact potential victims.

Hayman never publicised his ambition to become a journalist. It was only at the 2011 Select Committee meeting into why his 2006 inquiry was so insubstantial that he talked about his dream to become either a cop or a journalist.

Hayman shared champagne dinners with senior figures at News International and NotW reporters. But he refutes that the Met’s “close relationship” with News International interfered with the inquiry. There are even accusations (although far from verified) that he was having an affair with a married civil servant and photos were kept by NotW as a way of blackmailing him into compliance. He denies having taken money from journalists to access stories, albeit fairly unconvincingly.

How could he betray his beloved press?

The 2006 inquiry resulted in the conviction of NotW royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. The public was assured that no-one else was involved in phone hacking. The Guardian kept pursuing the story.

In a series of exposés between 2009 and 2011, the Guardian revealed that NotW had a widespread practice of hacking the phones of potential sources. Thousands of phones were tapped by NotW reporters. Famous actors, former politicians, military officials and the relatives of missing teenagers were among those listed as potential victims. It was a huge story. After 168 years in circulation, the NotW folded in the wake of a mass boycott from advertisers in 2011.

The last edition of the News of the World — Paul Hackett/Reuters

Fellow News International asset, The Times, was in an awkward position. It couldn’t defend these journalistic practices, but it couldn’t come out aggressively against its own family of publications.

As one of the oldest newspapers in the country, The Times is a heritage publication if ever there was one. It’s a resolutely conservative broadsheet, bought by Murdoch in 1981. The paper’s connections to elite power-holders are displayed prominently on every front page: the royal crest embellishes the masthead. It’s a subscription only paper, most commonly read by the economically privileged (I don’t subscribe, but my Brexit-voting brother does).

After retiring from police work in 2007, Hayman took up a job as a columnist for The Times. He had fulfilled his dream, although the opinion pieces he wrote were far from what could be considered journalism. He used the crime column to defend his initial inquiry into phone hacking: “as is so often the case, in the storm of allegation and denial the facts get lost.” He maintains that it was “a small number — perhaps only a handful” of phones that were tampered with. When asked about the problematic optics of taking a job with a publication owned by the very company he was investigating in 2006, Hayman said he “just didn’t see that”.

The subsequent Leveson inquiry into the ethical standards of the British press revealed many more examples of shady journalism practices. But in 2018, the Conservative party dropped the second stage of the inquiry, which would have gone into the specifics around the practices of phone hacking.

There is so much to be said on this story. The amount of references for this blog alone shows you that there’s enough material for several books. I wanted to centre around the figure of Hayman because he held a position that gave him access to some of the most powerful people in Britain. His personal LinkedIn account describes him as maintaining “a broad sphere of influence.” Perhaps he saw policing and journalism as equal pathways to reaching power.

There has always been a revolving door between the media and power in Britain. The NotW editor-in-chief accused of overseeing wide spread phone hacking, Andy Coulson, became the director of communications for Downing Street, only resigning when irrefutable evidence became public.

The phone hacking scandal partially unravelled the messy web of power, politics and the press. But that web is far from untangled. There will be other scandals equally as destructive to our understanding of democracy. Perhaps it’s time for those of us living in so-called liberal media systems to stop kidding ourselves that we have a free press. If this teaches us anything, it’s that the press is anything but free.


*These are behind The Times’ paywall. Please contact me if you would like access to specific articles.

Addley, Esther. “Leveson Inquiry: A Year That Called Press, Police and Politicians to Account.” The Guardian, 28 Nov. 2012,

*Ben Webster, Dominic. “Named and Shamed: The Stories That Put an Entire Industry in the Dock.” The Times, 30 Nov 2012,

Booth, Robert. “Pressure Mounts on David Cameron over Andy Coulson’s Security Level.” The Guardian, 21 July 2011,

*”Coulson Resignation: How the Drama Unfolded.” The Times, 21 Jan 2012,

Davies, Nick. “Murdoch Papers Paid out £1m to Gag Phone-Hacking Victims.” The Guardian, 8 July 2009,

“Phone Hacking Approved by Top News of the World Executive — New Files.” The Guardian, 15 Dec. 2010,

“Phone Hacking: Met Police Put on Spot by Ignored Leads and Discreet Omissions.” The Guardian, 6 Sept. 2010,

“Trail of Hacking and Deceit under Nose of Tory PR Chief.” The Guardian, 8 July 2009,

Gallagher, Ian. “Was Anti-Terror Boss Who Failed to Nail the News of the World Compromised by These Pictures?” Daily Mail, 9 July 2011,

*Hayman, Andy. “News of the World Investigation Was No Half Hearted Affair.” The Times, 11 July 2009.

Hayman, Andy. LinkedIn

*”Hayman: ‘No Impropriety.’” The Times, 13 July 2011,

Hoggart, Simon. “Andy Hayman Stars at Phone-Hacking Committee Session | Simon Hoggart’s Sketch.” The Guardian, 12 July 2011,

Laville, Sandra. “Phone Hacking: The Hunt for Corrupt Officers and 4,000 Possible Victims.” The Guardian, 7 July 2011,

Marshall, Sarah. “Officer-Turned-Times Columnist: ‘I Did Not Exploit My Contacts.’”, 1 Mar. 2012,

Mulholland, Hélène. “Andy Hayman ‘Unwise’ to Dine with News International Executives.” The Guardian, 13 July 2011,

“Phone Hacking: IPCC to Probe Met Press Chief Fedorcio.” BBC News, 19 July 2011,

*O’Neill, Sean. “Police Anti Terrorism Chief Andy Hayman Quits as Rumours and Allegations Grow.” The Times, 05 Dec 2007,

Tryhorn, Chris. “Clive Goodman Sentenced to Four Months.” The Guardian, 26 Jan. 2007,

“Unauthorised Tapping into or Hacking of Mobile Communications (14th July 2011).” UK Parliament, 14 July 2011,

Van Natta, Don. “Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond (Published 2010).” NYTimes, 1 Sept. 2010,

*Webster, Ben. “Eight People Charged with Phone Hacking at the News of the World.” The Times, 24 July 2012,