Did News Ltd make – and then break – a
secret deal with NSW police to supress reports forewarning police
targets of last week’s terror raids? And did that lead to a key suspect
fleeing the country?

This week’s (implicit) admission by Fairfax
editor-in-chief Mark Scott that he agreed to a request by NSW Police
Commissioner Ken Moroney to suppress news of iminent terror arrests
raises the question: what was News Ltd’s role in events that led to the
police’s worst result: a very public tip-off that might have allowed a
suspect to flee the net?

Well placed sources tell us that
following John Howard’s press conference the day after the Melbourne
Cup blowing the lid off the nationwide police operation, Ken Moroney
called Fairfax and News with a plea: “Don’t run your stories on the
terror cells in Melbourne and Sydney.” Scott reluctantly agreed, but
only after Moroney vowed that News Ltd had agreed to pull the stories
also. But either News hadn’t made the deal, or reneged – and next day
they had their “scoop“, infuriating police. Shortly after, a key suspect decamped, leaving a burned-out car and a drum of mysterious liquid.

On Wednesday morning, we sent the following email to The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell:

“You might have seen our story yesterday revealing that
Fairfax’s Mark Scott agreed with NSW police chief Moroney on Wednesday
2 November to withhold reports forewarning police targets of last
week’s planned terror raids. We’re told that, according to Moroney,
News gave a similar undertaking. Is this correct? If not, were you
approached by police seeking the suppression of some relevant facts,
and what was your response?”

His office replied: “He will give you an answer this afternoon….”

hours later, and no response from News – despite some prompting from
us. We can only wonder why News is having trouble putting together a
few cogent pars. Naturally, we’ll give Chris Mitchell the benefit of
the doubt until Monday, when we’ll feel free to draw our own