Leading article: The case for a wider hacking inquiry is now unanswerable

Was Scotland Yard really taking these allegations seriously before this week?

Share
Related Topics

The Metropolitan Police's handling of the phone hacking scandal has been suspicious from the very beginning. For a long time, Scotland Yard seemed to be either incompetent or obstructive. Senior officers appeared determined to limit the scope of the inquiry into the activities of the private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, undertaken on behalf of the News of the World.

The establishment of Operation Weeting in January was supposed to signal a fresh start for the Met in the investigation. We were informed that Scotland Yard was now treating the matter with special seriousness and that they would "follow the evidence trail to its conclusion". But the latest twist in the saga casts doubt on whether the Met really did turn over a new leaf.

It has emerged this week that Scotland Yard is in possession of a considerable amount of material about the activities of a different private investigator, Jonathan Rees. His associates claim that Rees was engaged in a variety of illegal information-gathering activities on behalf of the News of the World and other newspapers. And the activities that Rees is alleged to have carried out make what Glenn Mulcaire did sound almost like child's play. Rees is accused of targeting senior politicians, members of the royal family, terrorist informers, officials at the Bank of England and even high-ranking police officers.

And yet when the Labour MP Tom Watson wrote to Sue Akers, the head of Operation Weeting, to ask about these allegations regarding Rees, the MP was informed that although evidence did exist, it could be "outside the inquiry's terms of reference". While Ms Akers seems to be conducting a robust inquiry into phone hacking, the Met's failure, so far, to include Rees within that inquiry does not, to put it mildly, inspire confidence.

In a letter to this newspaper today, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, confirms that the allegations against Rees do indeed fall outside Weeting's terms of reference. However, she reveals that the Met is conducting a "formal assessment process" of the information in its possession regarding Rees. To which the appropriate response is: why has it taken Scotland Yard so long to look into this information? And was the Met really taking these allegations seriously before they were publicised this week? Scotland Yard's previous behaviour, sadly, leaves room for doubt.

What all this emphasises is the folly of leaving this investigation in the hands of the Met. The Met has long had a cosy relationship with the tabloid press. Rees himself is known to have had extensive links with Scotland Yard. Charging the Met with investigating phone hacking and illegal information gathering on behalf of newspapers was always akin to asking Scotland Yard to investigate itself. The investigation should have been handed to an outside force; one not compromised by links with newspapers.

It is probably unrealistic to expect the investigation to be taken away from the Met. But it is now imperative that the terms of Operation Weeting be extended to cover the allegations against Rees, or for another unit to be established that will investigate them with all the seriousness with which the Mulcaire case is supposedly being treated. There is also an increasingly powerful case for a public inquiry into not only phone hacking and illegal data collection, but the links between Scotland Yard and the tabloid press. There is a great deal more at stake here than the reasonable expectation of privacy of those in the public eye. This concerns the rule of law itself and the integrity of those charged with upholding it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£22000 - £36000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

General Cover Teacher - Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Qualified Teachers needed for Supply in t...

English Teacher Urgently Required - Secure Unit - Nottingham

£100 - £161 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Are you a fully qualified ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Richard Dawkins  

Richard Dawkins is wrong to suggest that there can be varying degrees of severity involved in rape

Sian Norris
 

Fist bumps will never replace the handshake - we're just not cool enough

Jessica Brown Jessica Brown
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on