Police in dock over phone-hacking as Prescott wins judicial review

Scotland Yard will finally have to answer claims that for five years it deliberately played down the scale of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, after Lord Prescott won the right to challenge police in the High Court over their failure to inform him and others that they were potential victims of voicemail interception.

The former deputy prime minister and three others – the Labour MP Chris Bryant, the former Scotland Yard deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick and the journalist Brendan Montague – were given permission for a judicial review into the handling of their cases by police following the seizure of 10,000 pages of evidence from the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

The proceedings, expected to take place later this year, will shine a spotlight on the Yard's heavily criticised investigation in 2005-2006. It was led by the former assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, the head of counter-terrorism at the Metropolitan Police at the time and now a columnist for Rupert Murdoch's News International.

The subsequent review of that investigation by the Assistant Commissioner John Yates in 2009, who found that police had correctly limited their inquiries to a "handful" of victims, will also be scrutinised as part of the assertion by Lord Prescott and his co-claimants that their human rights were infringed because police failed to tell them until earlier this year that they were targeted.

Lawyers for the four men claim the Yard's handling of the phone-hacking investigations shielded News International from "massive embarrassment and expense" by failing to disclose the full scale of the voicemail eavesdropping – and that police misled Parliament and the public over their response to alleged law-breaking.

Mr Bryant said: "We already know that the original investigation got nowhere near revealing the full degree of criminality at the NOTW, but one of the great mysteries is why the Metropolitan Police decided to limit their investigation and refused or failed to tell all the potential victims."

Lord Prescott added: "I look forward to receiving full and proper explanations as the case progresses." Yesterday's ruling at the High Court in London represents a significant victory for the peer and his fellow claimants, after a judge in February turned down the judicial review request.

Reversing that judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Foskett said it was now clear police had failed to provide a complete picture of the facts and that the case of the four men was "arguable".

The Yard, which in January launched Operation Weeting – its third phone-hacking investigation – with a promise that it would "leave no stone unturned", has been dogged by allegations that a close relationship between senior officers and executives at News International hampered its original inquiry. The claims have been strongly denied.

The claimants in the judicial review are seeking declarations from the High Court that police failed to inform them they were likely victims of hacking, as well as falling short in responding to requests for information and conducting an effective investigation in 2006. Both Lord Prescott and Mr Bryant were repeatedly told by the Yard that there was no evidence from the documents gathered by Mr Mulcaire that they were victims of hacking.

It subsequently emerged that police were in possession of an email sent by Mr Mulcaire in April 2006 to a NOTW executive referring to 45 messages left by him on the voicemail of Lord Prescott's chief of staff, Joan Hammell. Mr Bryant has recently seen a list compiled by the private detective of 23 numbers which dialled his phone and could only have been obtained from hacking.

Mr Paddick, who was initially told that Mr Mulcaire had only noted his name, rank and address, has now learned that phone details had been collected for him, his partner and his former partner.

Scotland Yard declined to comment on the court ruling. Both Mr Hayman and Mr Yates have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The questions the Met must answer

Why weren't more victims told by the 2006 investigation?

Claimants argue Scotland Yard deliberately downplayed the scale of the scandal, raising questions about the integrity of its investigation. Police point out they secured two convictions.

Why did police fail to disclose information held in the Mulcaire files?

Individuals such as Chris Bryant were told they were not hacked because the investigator's chaotic notebooks were not fully computerised until this year. This raises the question of why victims like Lord Prescott, mentioned in a Mulcaire email, were not contacted.

Was Andy Hayman right to limit the original investigation?

The Yard's counter-terrorism head had to juggle Islamist plots with phone hacking. He insists all avenues of inquiry were followed. But he faces questions about why his investigators only interviewed one NOTW journalist, Clive Goodman.

Why did John Yates give the first investigation a clean bill of health?

The small number of victims – "10 to 12" – was due to an interpretation of the law which stated police had to prove intercepted messages were "unopened".


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London