Simon Carr: The evidence is clear – the witnesses less so

'Baron' Prescott looked like a pub fight. His face is the lid he keeps on his feelings and the strains clearly show
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The Independent Online

Two witnessses, two styles, same evidence. One: Brian Paddick, ex-policeman now mayoral candidate – he looks around the room with the head of an interested chicken. He pushes his spectacles up his nose with a long finger – as Clark Kent did, to hide his Superman qualities. Two: "Baron" Prescott (he scoffed at himself) looking like a pub fight. His face is the lid he keeps on his feelings and the strains clearly show.

They've both had a particular relationship with the Metropolitan police.

"I thought a legal wouldn't lie but the police probably would," the former deputy prime minister said.

You don't expect the truth from politicians and even when the press has a, what, veracity malfunction – it's not that shocking. Prescott can only punch you and the press can only libel you. The police can arrest you. They can kill you. They can shoot you in the street.

So when Paddick said the Commissioner of the Met was lying about the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes and Prescott suggested Assistant Commissioners were lying about the hacking evidence – the unprepared could get a frisson. "Are you familiar with the term 'cock-up and conspiracy'?" Lord Leveson asked. "I don't do cock-up," Baron Prescott replied.

(You had to laugh; really, it was compulsory.)

But while the police were telling Prescott there was no evidence that his phone had been hacked they had already "joined the dots", helped by the convicted phone hacker having an envelope with £250 in it and Prescott's name on it, together with a self-billing invoice to News International for PRESCOTT.

As a dot-joining exercise it wasn't strenuous. A confession in rhyming couplets spelt out by a sky-writing plane over Scotland Yard couldn't have made it more obvious. And yet Yates of the Yard invoked the authority of "very experienced detectives" and "senior counsel" and the grandeur of the Crown Prosecutor to support his assertion that "no stone had been left unturned".

Will new investigator Sue Akers be better?

She was there at Leveson as well. She had a good run, until it was pointed out that she hasn't dug out any evidence at all.

She's been given all her info by the Management and Standards Committee. A body set up by and answering to Rupert Murdoch.

It's what they call "policing by consent" (we add: "of the criminals").