'Police payments' referred to IPCC

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The police watchdog has formally taken control of investigations into claims Scotland Yard officers were paid by the News of the World.

News International documents indicating Scotland Yard officers took money from the News of the World have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the force said.

The development came after former deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick said some officers may have received up to £30,000 for giving information.

Deborah Glass, of the IPCC, said: "The IPCC has today received a referral from the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to an allegation, which was widely reported yesterday, that a number of officers received payments from the News of the World."

The referral was made in the light of the significant public and political concern expressed following the recent revelations, the Metropolitan Police said.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said: "We recognised the gravity of this case from the outset and involved the IPCC at the first opportunity.

"I strongly believe in and welcome independent oversight, especially in a case such as this, where public confidence in the police is seriously at risk."

Scotland Yard initially met the IPCC last month to discuss the content of documents provided by News International.

"At that time it was agreed that the MPS would conduct the investigation and if, or when, any officers were identified, the cases would be referred to the IPCC," a spokeswoman added.

Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said he was "determined" to see any officers who received payments facing criminal conviction.

When asked how he felt about those suspected of taking money, he told Sky News: "I am more than ashamed - I am determined to see them in a criminal court."

Ms Glass said public confidence had been rocked.

She added: "I share the public concerns expressed so powerfully yesterday about police officers being bribed by newspapers.

"It is obviously crucial that the officers involved are identified. I will personally supervise this investigation to give independent oversight and ensure that it is robust in its attempts to identify any officer who may have committed an offence.

"There is an ongoing complex and interconnected criminal inquiry which is looking at the actions of the media and other members of the public as well as the police, and it is important that the overall effectiveness of the investigation being carried out by the MPS under the leadership of DAC Sue Akers is not compromised.

"Once those officers have been identified, I will review our level of involvement so that we can exercise our full range of powers.

"The public's confidence has been understandably shaken by these allegations. By providing independent oversight I want to be able to be satisfied - and say with confidence to the public - that the Met has done everything it can to identify the officers involved."