Met police assign over 100 officers to hacking probe


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The Independent Online

The number of officers dedicated to Scotland Yard's phone-hacking inquiry and two other related investigations has surged past 100.

The Independent has been told that a total of 108 detectives and support staff are now working on Operation Weeting, the Yard's ongoing inquiry into phone-hacking by the News of the World, and two linked investigations: Operation Elveden, a police corruption probe, and Operation Tuleta, which is looking at the hacking of computers.

Funding is available for a further 20 officers, meaning the Yard potentially has 128 staff to dedicate to its investigations – a near tripling of the 45 detectives originally assigned to Weeting when launched in January.

The expansion means that nearly 200 police across the UK are now investigating claims of illegal newsgathering by Rupert Murdoch's media empire. In Scotland, Strathclyde Police has dedicated over 50 officers to Operation Rubicon, its investigation into allegations of perjury involving the former NOTW editor Andy Coulson and wider claims of phone-hacking aimed at public figures.

The Yard had been criticised for the sluggish pace at which it informed victims of the NOTW's private investigator Glenn Mulcaire after it took six months to inform only 170 of the 3,870 people whose names appear on the records seized from his home.

Since then, the rate of notifications has increased with 452 potential victims now informed. More than 60 public figures and victims of crime have also launched civil damages claims against the NOTW.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said yesterday: "We cannot rush this process as letting people know they may have been the victim of phone-hacking invariably stimulates the demand for substantial amounts of 'disclosure' on the Met's part, some of which will be to enable people to pursue civil actions. "

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new Met Police Commissioner, told MPs this week there were 30 separate investigations, reviews, inquiries and legal actions into phone-hacking, which have led to the arrest of 16 people.