It has been the icon of London policing since 1967. Now fresh investigations reveal the sign has been propelled by a static exercise bicycle deep in the bowels of New Scotland Yard for over ten years. The list of people who pedalled that bicycle, unearthed by the phone hacking enquiry, is made up almost completely of News International staff. The enquiry is bracing itself for evidence that NI journalists pedalled, sometimes for hours on end, in return for celebrity phone numbers and email account details. The more the sign turned, the more information police officers imparted. One journalist recalls that pedalling was hard going. “An hour was all I could take, and it nearly destroyed me. But, in terms of getting murder victims’ family details, the rewards were huge. I actually saw Rebekah Wade on the bike, and she made the sign spin like a top. They told her to slow down. But she was well known for being fit. But I’ve heard James Murdoch could barely get it going without a tape of his father’s voice encouraging him.”
One intriguing memo from NI man Neil Wallis, controversially hired by the Met to handle PR, outlined a novel way of using the sign to deflect attention. When a Met chief had a "difficult" piece of news to impart to the cameras, the sign would stop revolving at the crucial moment, then mysteriously start revolving again in the opposite direction.