Met turns on its staff over phone hacking

Senior officers at Scotland Yard are 'incandescent' that claims were not investigated properly
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The Independent Online

Recriminations have begun inside Scotland Yard after criticism of the force's performance over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. With only two NoW employees convicted of intercepting voicemail messages five years ago, the force is increasingly under attack for failing to probe more deeply in its initial investigations.

Just last week, on 24 May, Lord Prescott won the right to challenge police in the High Court over their failure to inform him and others that they were potential victims of the hacking. The former deputy prime minister, the Labour MP Chris Bryant, former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and journalist Brendan Montague were given permission for a judicial review into the handling of their cases by police after 10,000 pages of evidence were seized in 2006 from the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

One Met Police officer, Assistant Commissioner John Yates, is said to be "incandescent" with the performance of some of those in his charge. Mr Yates, who reviewed the original inquiry, is said by colleagues to be furious at the "inadequate" and "unprofessional" research of those beneath him, with the result that some of his public statements at the time have been at odds with what has emerged subsequently.

"John feels he has been badly let down; this was not about corruption or collusion with certain newspapers as some have claimed, but there was a serious lack of focus among those tasked with finding out the full extent of the wrongdoing. He told his staff he wanted full priority to be given to this, and to be 100 per cent certain that any statements he made to the public were accurate."

Others in the Met have pointed to the role of the Crown Prosecution Service and its decision to prosecute just two people working for the NoW when it appeared to have evidence suggesting others were involved.

Senior officers are also said to be "furious" with the behaviour of the paper since the convictions. After two internal inquiries, the paper claimed there was no evidence of senior staff being involved. Only in January this year, after the intervention of its proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, did the paper hand over what the police called "significant evidence" suggesting more widespread wrongdoing.

The police are angry that it took four years for the paper to unearth the evidence, while purportedly co-operating with the police. In April the paper admitted its previous inquiries "were not sufficiently robust". One of these, led by Colin Myler, the paper's current editor, cleared the former editor Andy Coulson, Neil Wallis, then deputy editor, and the news editor, Ian Edmondson. One senior source said: "They haven't been hauled over the coals for this. They knew that if they were supposedly co-operating and going through their emails we wouldn't be able to get a search warrant, but their own searches were, shall we say, inadequate at best."

Meanwhile it emerged yesterday that six journalists who worked for The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday are to be shown evidence that their voicemail messages were intercepted by Mulcaire, one of the two men working for the News of the World who were jailed for phone hacking.