James Cusick: Leveson can probe the Yard's conduct

Far from being unified, there was a civil war which damaged its ability to do its job

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A casual visitor to the Royal Courts of Justice in recent weeks would have been forgiven for thinking it was only the behaviour of the Fourth Estate that was at issue during the Leveson Inquiry's probings into relations between the press and the police.

Certainly, Scotland Yard's top brass was pushed and prodded about the failure of the original phone-hacking inquiry – the refusal to pull back the curtain at Wapping and reveal the full extent of the rot that had set in at the News of the World.

But while the Yard has some justification in citing its duty to defend London's citizens from harm as part of the reason for its peculiar failure to follow the evidence in 2006, neither Leveson nor the Met itself has shone a sufficiently bright light into the internal divisions that also hobbled Britain's largest force.

Today, The Independent reveals another side of the Met's modus operandi during this period. Far from being a unified force determined to protect the public, it appears there was a highly politicised civil war in progress that could only have damaged its ability to do its job.

When the Leveson Inquiry examined the relationship between the press and police, it should have gone further in probing the criticisms that former and acting Met officers were throwing at each other during questioning.

The existence of an internal report suggesting the Met's management board was "compromised" and leaking to the media raises the question of how Britain's police functioned, or rather malfunctioned, when it should have been exposing the sham that was News International's so-called internal inquiry into hacking.

Lord Leveson needs to re-question both Lords Stevens and Blair and publish the internal-intelligence papers that marred this period of the Met's history. More private assurances from Scotland Yard will not be enough.