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MPs to quiz cops on failure to investigate phone-hacking

The assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police will be grilled on why he chose not to reopen inquiries in 2009.

John Yates will today be asked why he failed to uncover more evidence of NOTW phone-hacking in 2007 - and why he chose not to re-open his investigations in 2009.
John Yates will today be asked why he failed to uncover more evidence of NOTW phone-hacking in 2007 - and why he chose not to re-open his investigations in 2009.
Image: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

TWO SENIOR OFFICERS in London’s Metropolitan Police – including its assistant commissioner John Yates – are to appear before a House of Commons committee today to face questioning on their dismal handling of the News of the World hacking scandal.

Police led by Yates decided not to re-open investigations into the scandal in 2009, when the Guardian began to publish details of the NotW’s endemic phone-hacking practices, saying there was no need to revisit the case.

An earlier investigation had been closed in 2007 when the newspaper’s Royal Editor, Clive Goodwin, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were both jailed for illegally accessing the voicemails of members of the Royal Family.

It has since emerged that the practice went far beyond the Royal Family – prompting questions over why Yates’ original investigation failed to uncover such evidence.

The Guardian said Yates will tell the Home Affairs Committee he had decided not to formally re-open the investigation without carrying out any preliminary inquiries into the affair.

He is to assert that the failure to uncover other criminal activity was because of ‘cock-ups and confusion’, and not because of any police conspiracy or collusion. Yates told last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph that his decision not to revisit the matter in 2009 was “pretty crap”.

Yesterday two Labour MPs called on Yates to resign over his handling of the affair, claiming he had lied to parliament when saying there were “very few victims” of mobile-phone hacking.

“He is in charge of counter-terrorism in this country, for heaven’s sake! Surely he should resign,” Labour MP Chris Bryant said.

Accusations

The Met has meanwhile accused News International of trying to undermine its latest investigations into the phone-hacking affair, claiming the company leaked details of internal emails in a bid to “divert attention from elsewhere”.

The BBC’s Robert Peston yesterday reported that police officers from the Royal Protection Unit, who were paid up to £1,000 at a time in exchange for phone numbers of the Royal Family and its associates.

That revelation was contained in emails uncovered by News International during the original police investigation in 2007, but which were not handed over to police until last month.

Police believe that only a small number of people could have been aware of the emails’ contents, and that the public disclosure of the facts was designed to detract from the latest investigations.

Yesterday the Guardian revealed that other papers in the News International stable were also engaged in hacking activities targeting Gordon Brown, with the Sun accessing the medical records of his son and the Sunday Times managing to receive details from his bank account.

The proposed takeover of broadcaster BSkyB by News International’s parent company News Corporation has been referred to the UK’s competitions commission, deferring a decision for months.

Yesterday shareholders in News Corp launched legal action against the company, claiming that their shares had plummeted in value as a result of News Corp’s failure to fully investigate the phone-hacking affair.

More: Gordon Brown’s bank account and medical records hacked >

More: NotW emails: Police ‘sold royal family’s mobile phone numbers’ >

And: Shareholders sue News Corp over hacking scandal >

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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