Home Secretary Theresa May alarmed at revelations that hacking went beyond media and was used by lawyers and private companies
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has expressed alarm over revelations that hacking went far beyond the media and was routinely used by lawyers and private companies to obtain sensitive information about rivals.
The Independent disclosed last week that police officers knew for years that private investigators employed by other blue-chip industries besides newspapers routinely hired criminals to hack, blag and steal private information on members of the public.
Lord Justice Leveson, who conducted an inquiry into media ethics, was sent a report by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) detailing the extent of the unlawful practices, but refused to act on it.
The Home Secretary told MPs she recognised the disquiet in the Commons about hacking and found the new disclosures “very worrying”.
She was responding to a question from the senior Tory MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Mr Whittingdale asked her: “Could you say whether they got it right to tell Lord Justice Leveson about that, but not to pursue any action against those who had committed criminal offences?”
Ms May said decisions about prosecutions were a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. But she added that she recognised the “degree of concern”.
“The question of phone hacking has been a matter that has caused disquiet in this House for some time,” she told MPs. “But the suggestion it could have been more widespread is of course equally worrying.”
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, believes the evidence was withheld from Parliament during a previous inquiry into private investigators.
Last night, he wrote to Sir Ian Andrews, the chairman of Soca, highlighting The Independent’s revelations and ordering a “full, unredacted” version of the report to be delivered to the committee by Thursday.
He said: “If the allegations about the scale of hacking among private companies are true, this is a very serious matter indeed.
“I intend to write to all the companies suspected of this practice to establish just how widespread it is.”
Among the practices revealed by the confidential Soca report were live telephone interceptions, computer hacking, police corruption and obtaining itemised phone bills.
Lord Justice Leveson is facing questions over why he failed to highlight the allegations of misbehaviour during his inquiry.
Police investigations included in the Soca report found private investigators employed by a raft of clients including law firms, insurance companies, wealthy individuals and local councils.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
- 1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 4 Bookies now say Ed Miliband is more likely to be prime minister than David Cameron