It does transcend party politics, this News of the World hacking crime. It's more than a consensus there on both front benches, it's a coalition. Maybe the fear of Rupert Murdoch really is "a universal human value" (© Tony Blair).
At any rate, the Labour government decided last year nothing more needed to be done about Murdoch's modus operandi, and this year the Tory government agrees. The police will look at it again, Theresa May says, only "if there is any new evidence". Allegations don't count as evidence (a distinction that would have been admired by Ms May's old enemy Stephen Byers).
The Metropolitan Police, headed by John "Lestrade" Yates (whom you remember for his wallowing investigation of cash for honours) is robustly unaware of new evidence, even that which has appeared in The New York Times.
Just because a person's name, phone number, PIN and password appear in a phone hacker's accounts doesn't mean that person is a target for hacking. Irish terrorists got 20 years for carrying a list of English names, didn't they? How times change.
The Culture Committee looked into it and felt that the investigation had been no more than half done. In the gentle understatement of John Whittingdale, they found it "difficult to believe that Clive Goodman was the only person involved at the News of the World".
Yes, last year we sat through hours of testifying executives and editors from News International – men (and a woman) at the height of their professional life running the world's most powerful news group, but who could barely remember their own names. They had no recollection of any names, processes, payments, front page splashes. Listening to them you felt they had brains like bowls of semolina but with far too little jam. Some say they should be in jail – I say they should be in a specimen bottle.
Tom Watson's Urgent Question included 20 urgent questions. I'm not sure what was and wasn't new – but they all sounded worthy of police attention. More reporters were involved, he said, and others had claimed they'd witnessed wrongdoing; there'd been a new sacking – and then what about those thousands of mobile numbers in the private eye's records.
And did Cameron's Coulson lie to the committee? Had he known where these scoops-of-the-century were coming from? And why were the police so lackadaisical about it? Was there really a professional association between the Met's press office and the Screws' newsdesk that had to be protected?
Everything had been thoroughly and properly done, Ms May said.
Chris Bryant told the Home Secretary that he'd had the dickens of a job trying to interest the police in his case. His name, they replied to his enquiry, was indeed on the hacker's list. But he had to find out himself whether his phone had been hacked into. He found out. He informed the police. Nothing happened.
Any new evidence, we were told, would be looked at "very closely" if the Met thought it proper. But if Bryant's report doesn't constitute evidence of sloth in the Met at least, it's hard to know what does.Reuse content