One of the London Mayor Boris Johnson's deputies will be asked by the Leveson Inquiry today to explain why he tried to downgrade the police investigation into phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's newspaper group.
Senior officers have told the inquiry that Kit Malthouse, the Deputy Mayor for Policing, repeatedly pressured Scotland Yard to take detectives off Operation Weeting, despite growing evidence of wrongdoing at News International's headquarters.
Cressida Dick, an assistant commissioner at the Met, said Mr Malthouse's overtures were so strong she had to "put down a marker" that he was interfering in an operational matter.
The comments raise further questions about the record of Mr Johnson, who enjoys strong support from Mr Murdoch's papers, on criminality at News International. In September 2010, the Mayor declined to ask the Met to carry out a fresh investigation into the News of the World after claims made by The New York Times.
At the Mayor's question time on 15 September, Mr Johnson – an Eton contemporary of Charlie Brooks, husband of the then chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks – laughed that the story was "a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party".
Sir Paul Stephenson, the Scotland Yard chief who quit last July, appeared to go out of his way at the Leveson Inquiry on 5 March to explain the political pressure he was under. He said: "On several occasions after Operation Weeting had started and I had returned from sick leave, Kit Malthouse expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone-hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media-driven 'level of hysteria'."