Lead officer's exit will not divert hacking probe, Yard insists

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The Independent Online

An inquiry into phone hacking and associated police corruption and computer hacking will not be diverted by the retirement of the senior officer who has led the £40m investigation since January last year, Scotland Yard pledged last night.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police hinted that Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers could be replaced by another member of the Operation Weeting team, which is looking into claims that reporters working for Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers hacked hundreds of mobile phone accounts.

The Independent on Sunday reported exclusively yesterday that Ms Akers would step down after the Olympics following 36 years of service. She has been credited with re-establishing the reputation of the Met, which was undermined by its failure properly to investigate the phone-hacking claims when they emerged in 2007.

Yesterday, Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said the loss of Ms Akers would "not be allowed to impact on the progress of the investigations". He said no decision had been made about her successor.

Meanwhile, the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, established in the wake of the scandal, is expected to hear evidence from the Labour peer Lord Mandelson today.

He is one of the architects of New Labour and is believed to have been a prime advocate for the party's wooing of the Murdoch media empire in the early 1990s.

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