John Prescott is embroiled in an extraordinary row with the former senior Scotland Yard officer who investigated the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, announced he is seeking a judicial review of the failure by the Metropolitan Police to inform him that his name appeared on the list of high-profile individuals kept by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, and that two invoices were found by police suggesting that the Labour politician had been actively pursued in 2006.
The news that Lord Prescott is to seek damages, along with a declaration that his human rights were breached by the Yard, provoked a robust response from Andy Hayman, the former assistant commissioner at the Met who oversaw the phone-hacking investigation and has since become a commentator for News International, owner of the NOTW.
In a radio interview, Mr Hayman accused the politician of "ranting" and wasting public money with proceedings that he said were unlikely to reveal anything new about the activities of Mulcaire, who was jailed for six months in January 2007 for illegally accessing the voicemails of celebrities while being paid more than £100,000 a year by the NOTW.
Mr Hayman told LBC yesterday: "We have got to get real over this. This is just another of episode of Lord Prescott's rants. You know he's nothing special, he was on a list, along with lots of other celebrities and well-known people, held by a journalist.
"But my understanding is there is absolutely no evidence from that initial investigation of his phone being hacked, so why he thinks he is anything special, I do not know. I don't believe that a judicial review will reveal anything more than what has already been reviewed by my successor. It could actually end up being a waste of public money and only ever putting Lord Prescott on a bigger platform."
Mr Hayman, who was head of counter terrorism at the Yard until he left the force in 2007, worked closely with Lord Prescott during the last Labour government, in particular in June 2006 following a botched raid on a home in Forest Gate, east London, when a man was shot by officers looking for a chemical bomb. John Prescott was standing in for Tony Blair at the time and was personally briefed by Mr Hayman.
Lord Prescott described Mr Hayman's comments as "quite remarkable" given his role overseeing the original phone hacking investigation in 2006, which has been criticised after it emerged that officers failed to question any NOTW reporters or executives beyond the paper's royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who was also jailed for illegally accessing the voicemails of Princes William and Harry. The convictions led to the resignation of Downing Street press chief Andy Coulson as editor of the Sunday paper.
Lord Prescott, who has pledged to donate any damages to charity, said: "The basis for my call for a judicial review into this investigation was that I and others targeted by Glenn Mulcaire and the News of the World were never notified by Mr Hayman... This is not ranting. This is a desire to uncover why the Metropolitan Police failed to notify the thousands of people targeted by Mulcaire and the News of the World, why they failed to follow the evidence and why they fundamentally failed to do their job." Lord Prescott is the fifth person to begin High Court proceedings against the Yard.
Subsequent requests for information to the police revealed two tax invoices for £250 from a News International subsidiary marked "Story: Other Prescott Assist-TXT" and "Story: Other Prescott Assist TXT – Urgent". The Independent understands that the invoices coincide with a period in April 2006 when Mr Prescott briefly disappeared from public view following the revelation of an affair with his secretary.