News of the World told to hand over evidence

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard detectives have asked the News of the World to hand over any evidence which could implicate one of the newspaper's senior executives in illegal phone-hacking.

The newspaper's assistant editor Ian Edmondson has been suspended over allegations of professional misconduct – namely that he commissioned the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to intercept the voicemails of celebrities. The allegations were made in court papers submitted by the legal team of the actress Sienna Miller, who is suing News International for breach of privacy.

The Metropolitan Police has been criticised for allegedly failing thoroughly to investigate the phone-tapping scandal which has engulfed the News of the World. Yesterday, MPs demanded that an independent force take over the case after it emerged that Scotland Yard had known of the evidence against Mr Edmondson four years ago.

Last night a statement from the force read: "The Metropolitan Police Service has written to the News of the World requesting any new material they may have in relation to alleged phone hacking following the suspension of a member of their staff." If the newspaper's decision to suspend Mr Edmondson is based on anything other than what is in the court papers, then it could prompt the force to reopen the case.

A News of the World spokesperson said: "We have received a letter from the Metropolitan Police and will co-operate fully."

Officers reviewed the case last year following the testimony of several former News of the World reporters who claimed that phone hacking was known about not only by many executives but also by Andy Coulson, the paper's former editor. Mr Coulson has always denied knowledge of widespread phone tapping.

But Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service decided that the new evidence was not enough to mount further prosecutions. The Metropolitan Police says it will now only reopen the case if new evidence emerges.