Boris's deputy lobbied five times for police to limit hacking inquiry

 

London's Deputy Mayor is likely to be called by the Leveson Inquiry to explain why he put pressure on two of Scotland Yard's most senior officers to limit the resources being devoted to the phone-hacking inquiry.

For the second week in a row, evidence of Kit Malthouse's attempts to influence police policy was revealed to Lord Justice Leveson. Yesterday Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said she had been forced to "put down a marker" about the Met's operational independence after Mr Malthouse had lobbied her three times last year about the increasing police manpower being devoted to phone hacking.

The comments from Ms Dick, who took over from John Yates after he resigned over alleged links to a former executive at the News of the World, will increase the already significant political pressure on Mr Malthouse. Last week the former Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson revealed that Mr Malthouse, who is responsible for policing in London, had urged him to scale back the phone-hacking investigation on several occasions.

The shadow Home Office minister Chris Bryant, who has described Mr Malthouse's actions as "political manipulation", repeated his call for the Mayor, Boris Johnson, to sack his deputy. He told The Independent: "The comments today by Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick have definitely weakened Mr Malthouse's position."

Ms Dick told the inquiry that Mr Malthouse spoke to her after Scotland Yard launched its new phone-hacking inquiry in January last year. She said the Deputy Mayor, who chaired the Met Police Authority and continues to head its successor body, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, had said to her on two occasions: "I hope you're not putting too much resources into this [Operation Weeting], Cressida."

When Mr Malthouse repeated his warning a third time, she reminded him where the authority for the Met's operational strategy resided. "I said: 'That's my decision, not yours, that's why I'm operationally independent'."

Offering Lord Justice Leveson the reasons why she "wanted to put down a marker", Ms Dick said: "I didn't want to compromise him. In such a charged investigation that would have compromised him and us."

Mr Malthouse's office continued to defend his interventions, stating it was "entirely proper" for him to examine the reasoning behind the allocation of resources into the phone-hacking inquiry. His office said it was his job to hold the Met to account.

Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden, which is looking into police corruption, and the investigation into computer hacking, Operation Tuleta, is currently being staffed by almost 170 officers. It is one of the largest investigations ever undertaken by the force.

With witness lists still being finalised for the second module of the Leveson Inquiry, which is examining the relationship between the press and the police, Mr Malthouse is almost certain to have to defend his lobbying.

Yesterday the inquiry also heard from the head of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Denis O'Connor. He said that in 2009, when The Guardian published new details about the News of the World, he thought the revelations "merited some sort of independent review".

He told the inquiry that discussions had taken place with the then Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, and a Home Office minister. "But there was no appetite for HMIC being involved."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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