Met commissioner to say sorry for 'institutional' failures

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The Independent Online

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is expected to make a public apology for his force's sustained mishandling of the phone hacking scandal. Sir Paul Stephenson is thought to be preparing to admit that the Met was guilty of "institutional" failures that went beyond any the failings of any one officer.

Britain's biggest police force has made blunder after blunder in investigating wrongdoing at Rupert Murdoch's newspaper group News International after being called in by the Royal Family to probe leaks about Prince William and Prince Harry in November 2006.

Only two individuals have been prosecuted for phone hacking, the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and the News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman, despite the police seizing evidence that now indicates that there were almost 4,000 victims.

The force's current investigation, Operation Weeting, begun four years later in January 2011, is considered to be serious and robust.

News of the expected apology came on the day it emerged that journalists at News International had allegedly bribed an officer in the Royal Protection Squad to leak personal details about the Queen and Prince Philip.

The Met yesterday effectively accused News International of undermining its investigation into allegations that News of the World journalists bribed police for information. In an unusually strongly worded statement, it said over the past few weeks the police and News International had agreed to keep shared information confidential "so that we could pursue various lines of inquiry, identify those responsible without alerting them and secure best evidence.

"However we are extremely concerned and disappointed that the continuous release of selected information – that is only known by a small number of people – could have a significant impact on the corruption investigation," it said.

At the weekend, John Yates, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, apologised for his decision, two years ago, not to re-open the failed 2007 investigation by Andy Hayman, who now works as a columnist for The Times.

Today Mr Hayman, Mr Yates and Sue Akers, who is leading the new inquiry, will appear before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee to answer questions on the scandal. Mr Hayman and Mr Yates are likely to face some tough questions.