PM rejects calls for phone-hacking inquiry

Martin Hickman
Monday 18 April 2011 00:00 BST

Calls for a public inquiry into phone hacking by the News of the World were brushed off by Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday.

Mr Cameron, who hired the newspaper's ex-editor Andy Coulson as his communications chief after he resigned over the scandal, said he hoped the police inquiry would settle any issues and urged detectives to "follow the evidence wherever it goes".

Scotland Yard is carrying out a second investigation into the eavesdropping of mobile phones amid criticism its first inquiry five years ago was not robust. Three arrests have been made in the past fortnight, but questions remain about whether the country's biggest force was less active in 2006 because of its closeness to the NOTW.

The Prime Minister said further prosecutions were clearly "an option". "I'm not sure anyone fully knew how widespread it was," he told Sky News. "Let me be clear: phone hacking is wrong, phone hacking is illegal and the police and prosecuting authorities should follow the evidence wherever it goes without fear or favour."

Asked if there should be a public inquiry, he replied: "There is always a difficulty of holding inquiries when you have active police investigations... The law is perfectly clear, the law doesn't need I think to be changed."

News International is facing a second criminal inquiry by Scotland Yard. Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said one was possible following NI's chief executive Rebekah Brooks' remarks to MPs in 2003 that: "We have paid the police for information in the past."

Piers Morgan, who as editor of The Daily Mirror also gave evidence to the DCMS Committee that day, later wrote in his diaries that Ms Brooks had apologised for "dropping the tabloid baton." Mr Morgan, who considered he had acquitted himself well, wrote in The Insider: "Later Rebekah excelled herself by virtually admitting she's been illegally paying police for information. I called her to thank her for dropping the tabloid baton at the last minute. She apologised: 'That's why I should never be seen or heard in public'."

Ms Brooks, who declined to appear before a subsequent DCMS committee hearing on phone hacking, told the Home Affairs committee this month she had been speaking generally about the press and did not have knowledge of any specific payments.

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