Scotland Yard is accused of suppressing evidence in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, according to controversial evidence given to MPs.
Max Mosley, a former president of FIA – motor racing's governing body – claims that the Metropolitan Police failed to investigate properly "endemic criminality on a significant scale" at the Murdoch-owned newspaper and has called for a fully independent inquiry.
Mr Mosley, himself the victim of a sex exposé by the newspaper, has accused Scotland Yard detectives of failing to follow evidence of phone hacking, blackmail and witness intimidation.
In a statement to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Mosley said: "The Metropolitan Police not only failed to follow the evidence, they suppressed it and continue to do so. It is deeply disquieting that they should pull back from investigating a powerful media group despite clear evidence of systemic criminal conduct. It is unclear whether this failure to act is from fear of News Group's [the parent company of the NoW] reaction or for other reasons."
Mr Mosley added: "There appears to be endemic criminality on a significant scale within the News Group organisation and a failure by the Metropolitan Police to investigate, despite having extensive evidence of wrongdoing in their possession." He claimed that what has happened is so "disquieting" that a "full independent enquiry has become essential".
MPs are carrying out an inquiry into the hacking of mobile phone messages by reporters of the NoW and private investigators employed by them. In 2007, Clive Goodman, the newspaper's royal editor, and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for hacking into phones of members of the royal household. Last month, the hacking scandal prompted the resignation of Andy Coulson, former editor of the newspaper, as director of communications at No 10. His resignation followed the sacking of Ian Edmondson, a senior editor at the newspaper.
In his evidence to the committee, published on their parliamentary website, Mr Mosley claims that one of the paper's reporters blackmailed two people. He states the newspaper and its parent company have threatened MPs, including ministers.
He names two other private investigators hired by the NoW including one hired after being jailed for seven years for planting cocaine on a women involved in a child custody case. A second investigator used by reporters was a former Scotland Yard detective sacked for corruption.
"This reveals a culture of criminality at News Group," according to Mr Mosley. "What makes the conduct of the police even more extraordinary is that among the names of the NoW's targets were not just so-called celebrities and sports personalities, but senior politicians, including cabinet ministers. Worse, the great majority of those targeted were not informed by the police that their phones may have been hacked into and their security compromised."
It is essential, he claims that public confidence be restored by an "in-depth and transparent investigation" by independent lawyers and, if necessary, by an independent police force.
Other evidence submitted to MPs includes the claim that phone hacking was practised by "everyone in the schoolyard" at the News of the World, according to Paul McMullan, a former journalist at the newspaper. Mr McMullan claimed he himself had practised phone hacking within a "few feet" of Andy Coulson when they both worked on the Sunday tabloid.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman declined to comment on the evidence, stating that their investigation was ongoing.
News International said last night: "There are some serious inaccuracies in some of the written evidence submitted to the Home Affairs Select Committee. We are currently carrying out a detailed review and will engage with the committee to set out our positions."