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The Sketch: So, Mr Yates, isn't the price of lobster linguine criminal?

The Met may have relied too heavily on Murdoch's willingness to incriminate itself
  • @SimonSketch

There were a number of questions our forensic friends at Leveson failed to ask the Met, questions of importance in the matter of press culture. To wit: is the Osso Buco at Scalini's better than the Foie de Veau Sauté at the Ivy Club? Could they honestly recommend the lobster linguine at Ciccone's? And that £47 bottle of champagne one of them bought for an "unnamed female" – it is actually possible to get a decent bottle of champagne for that? And if so, did it work?

"All restaurants in London are expensive," former DAC Yates said. As we now know, our senior policemen can lack detective skills. That's for the entry level. Asking Yates to solve a crime – it's like asking a general to bayonet an enemy soldier.

But what could they do? Their hands were tied. The News International lawyers kept promising "to co-operate fully". Why? "That would foil our ability to get a Production Order," Yates said. Foiled again!

In retrospect, the Met may have relied a little too heavily on the Murdoch empire's willing- ness to incriminate itself. Yates's pal from the Screws had landed a job doing the PR for the Met, and Yates had to clear him. What did he do? He rang him up: "Is there anything that could possibly come out that would embarrass the Met? Anything, anything, anything?" You can almost feel the blaze of the interrogation lights.

Neil Wallis didn't say, "Where shall I start?" No, he said, "Nothing". And to all intents and purposes he was right. Nothing could possibly come out. They had the whole thing sewn up.

We all saw that for years as they busked it through select committees. The police and News International were untouchable. Smiling and beyond the reach of questions. Each was secure in the knowledge that all were up to their hocks in it.

That's how DAC Yates could promise to open the case up again if "new evidence came to light" because evidence was never "new" – they had it all already, in bin bags and seized notebooks.

Leveson saw to the heart of it yesterday. In summary – if only the Met had said, "We were investigating 70 terror plots in the aftermath of 7/7. We'd already got a couple of hacking convictions. Why would we divert 1,000 officers away from bomber surveillance to these no-injury crimes?"

Instead, an evasion led to a fib which turned into a lie which resulted in ruin. And here we all are.