News International lied and prevaricated, say police chiefs

Mr Clarke admitted his officers failed to carry out a full inquiry, and said he was not sure all the material had been read

News International told lies and prevaricated in a concerted attempt to thwart Scotland Yard's investigations into phone hacking, two of the country's most senior police officers told Parliament yesterday.

In bruising exchanges with MPs, police chiefs were attacked for incompetence in failing to examine the mountain of evidence seized from the disgraced private investigator Glenn Mulcaire that showed the staggering, industrial extent of phone hacking by the News of the World.

But the former deputy assistant commissioner Peter Clarke, who conducted the original inquiry in 2006, insisted that he had been thwarted by the company's efforts to obstruct the investigation. He told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that he had pursued his inquiry as far as he could through correspondence with the NOTW's lawyers.

But he said: "This is a major global organisation with access to the best legal advice, in my view deliberately trying to thwart a police investigation."

Mr Clarke added: "If at any time News International had offered some meaningful co-operation instead of prevarication and what we now know to be lies, we would not be here today."

Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who concluded two years ago that there was no evidence of widespread hacking after a review lasting eight hours – despite 11,000 pages of documents which suggested the contrary – protested that the NOTW "appears to have failed to co-operate in the way that we now know they should have with the relevant police inquiries up until January of this year".

He said: "They have only recently supplied information and evidence that would clearly have had a significant impact on the decisions that I took in 2009 had it been provided to us."

Following Mr Yates' appearance in front of the inquiry, the former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown called on him to resign, saying: "This is a man employed for judgment and it is plain by his own admission that he has made a very serious error of judgment."

Mr Clarke, who was the country's chief counter-terror officer, admitted his officers failed to carry out an "exhaustive examination" of the 11,000 documents seized from Mulcaire, which contained the private contact details of hundreds of people. He said: "I can't be sure all the material was read."

He argued that his team was under pressure at the time the hacking allegations first surfaced, investigating 70 suspected terrorist operations following the London bombings of 7 July 2005.

Mr Yates decided in January 2009 not to reopen the haccking investigation following a brief re-examination of fresh claims in newspapers – a decision he admitted yesterday was "poor".

He repeatedly argued that the claims appeared at the time to contain no new evidence, although he conceded he had obtained no revised legal advice.

Labour MP Stephen McCabe remarked that he did not "seem like the dogged determined sleuth everyone would have expected".

Mr Yates, who said he was "99 per cent sure" his own phone had been hacked, acknowledged it was likely that some officers in the force accepted cash from journalists. He told the committee's chairman, Keith Vaz, that he had not offered to step down: "If you're suggesting I should resign for what the News of the World has done and my very small part in it, I think that's probably unfair."

At the end of his evidence Mr Vaz delivered an extraordinary rebuke to Mr Yates, telling him that the committee found his evidence "unconvincing". Mr Vaz said: "There are more questions to be asked about what happened when you conducted this review. So you may well be hearing from us again. Please do not regard this as an end of the matter."

The former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, who was in ultimate charge of the 2006 inquiry, was accused of being a "dodgy geezer". He said he had made no secret of holding private dinners with News of the World journalists while the inquiry was underway, but said that the meetings were "businesslike".

Testimony: How police chiefs past and present answered to Parliament

"I do not doubt that if we do not get this right it [confidence] will continue to be damaged"

Sue Akers, Met deputy assistant commissioner, leading current hacking inquiry

"It's a matter of great concern that the News of the World appears to have failed to co-operate in the way that we now know they should have" John Yates, Met assistant commissioner

"If at any time News International had offered meaningful co-operation instead of lies, we would not be here today... Would you expect criminals to co-operate with the police? Of course you don't... This is a major global organisation with access to the best legal advice, in my view deliberately trying to thwart a police investigation"

Peter Clarke, former Met deputy assistant commissioner

"When you look back now, this is absolutely awful, the people that are going through the pain the second time around as victims – just appalling"

Andy Hayman, former Met assistant commissioner, led the first hacking inquiry in 2006

"I remember being told of an inquiry in 2006 that concerned hacking... It wasn't a major issue at the time"

Sir Ian Blair, former Met commissioner

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kellie Bright as Linda Carter and Danny Dyer as Mick Carter

EastEnders Christmas specials are known for their shouty, over-the-top soap drama but tonight the show has done itself proud thanks to Danny Dyer.

Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
Sport
Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are preparing for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there