MPs back calls for Soca to name blue-chip hackers
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 26 July 2013
The Serious Organised Crime Agency faces further calls for it to publish a secret list of companies and individuals who used corrupt private investigators to obtain personal information, with Labour adding to the demands.
Stella Creasy, a Labour home affairs spokeswoman, has written to Trevor Pearce, Soca’s director-general, to ask why a list of 101 of the investigators’ clients it has handed to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee must remain classified.
The Independent has revealed that banks, pharmaceutical, law, insurance and financial services companies have used private investigators for years to get private data, for example through mobile phone records and bank statements. The list of their clients also includes wealthy individuals.
Ms Creasy told Mr Pearce: “People recognise that some of Soca’s work may be confidential in the public interest, for the purposes of fighting crime and securing justice. However, the discussion as to who may be on this list and why such a requirement has been made has led to legitimate questions, to which there may be legitimate answers, as to why it cannot be published and what is in the public interest in this matter.”
The Labour frontbencher added: “It would be of benefit to our public debates on this matter to understand why if you believe it is of value to the committee to have this information, you consider harm to be caused to any individuals or companies involved should it be made public.”
Conservative MP David Davis called for the list to be made public. He said: “Yet again a police agency is hiding behind excessive secrecy. It is simply not acceptable for Soca to withhold information of serious public interest three years after the event under the excuse of an ‘ongoing police investigation’.”
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