Pressure was growing on Scotland Yard last night to explain its failure to interview senior executives on the News of the World amid claims that its original investigation into the phone-hacking scandal missed potentially crucial lines of inquiry.
Lawyers bringing civil claims on behalf of a number of celebrities who believe their voicemails were intercepted by the private detective Glenn Mulcaire have now highlighted the roles of at least two senior staff members on the News Corporation title whose names apparently appear on phone-hacking records kept by the investigator.
The names, which include Ian Edmondson, an assistant editor on the paper who was suspended last month following the disclosure of documents linking him to the hacking of the actress Sienna Miller's phone, have all been revealed in documents provided by the Metropolitan Police from its own inquiries into Mr Mulcaire.
Neither Mr Edmondson or Greg Miskiw, the former assistant editor who was this week linked to an alleged attempt by Mr Mulcaire to intercept voicemails to the football commentator Andy Gray, were interviewed during the investigation which led to the jailing of the private detective and Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal correspondent. A further question mark was placed over Scotland Yard's inquiry yesterday with the revelation of the existence of a secure server containing emails sent to Andy Coulson, the editor of the Sunday tabloid at the time of the scandal who is now Prime Minister David Cameron's head of communications.
Tom Watson, a Labour MP, called for detectives to examine the server and also reconsider an existing transcript of 35 intercepted voicemails relating to Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, which was marked for the attention of Neville Thurlbeck, the paper's chief reporter. John Yates, the Met's acting deputy commissioner now in charge of the hacking inquiry, has admitted that Mr Thurlbeck, who denies receiving the transcript, should have been interviewed in the investigation.
The long-standing insistence of the NOTW that hacking was restricted to a single "rogue reporter" in the shape of Mr Goodman began to unravel this week after Mr Mulcaire made a statement to the High Court saying he had been commissioned by Mr Edmondson in separate proceedings brought by the football agent Sky Andrew. Mr Edmondson denies any wrongdoing.
Legal sources told The Independent that developments left the Met in an increasingly difficult position. One senior media lawyer said: "As News of the World starts to concede that there may have been other 'rogue' reporters rather than just one, serious questions need to be asked as to why the Met limited its initial criminal investigation. They had papers naming, 'Ian', 'Greg' and 'Neville', why didn't they interview them? It is wrong that they should be tasked with investigating now. Clearing reporters helps clear the Met. It is as simple as that."
Scotland Yard confirmed yesterday that there is no active investigation into the hacking allegations after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced last week a new review of all evidence relating to the interception of voicemails. A spokesman said: "We are awaiting the conclusion of the CPS review. We have also written to the News of the World requesting any new material they may have in relation to alleged phone hacking."
Prosecutors and police have hinted that they are considering widening the hitherto narrow interpretation of the law relating to hacking, which says that a criminal offence has only been committed when a hacker listens to a voicemail before its intended recipient. Redefined guidelines which make it an offence to intercept a message regardless of whether it is new or saved could open the door to more prosecutions.
Mark Lewis, the lawyer who acted for Mr Taylor in a damages claim against the NOTW, said the extent of hacking within the paper remained unknown. He said: "It might suit the paper to portray this as another isolated example, but we need to avoid drawing a conclusion that this was not a widespread practice."
What Coulson told MPs
In 2009, Andy Coulson stated he did not know of "any evidence linking the non-royal phone hacking by [private investigator] Glenn Mulcaire with [anyone at NOTW]", blaming one rogue reporter, former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, for the phone hacking.
Since then, the names of two further NOTW executives, Ian Edmondson and Greg Miskiw, have been apparently linked to phone-hacking records.Reuse content