COMMONS

MPs publish report on unauthorised tapping or hacking of mobile communications

20 July 2011

The Commons Home Affairs Committee "deplores" News International's attempt to "deliberately thwart" the original investigation into phone hacking in 2005-06 but also states that the police set aside a huge amount of material that could have identified other perpetrators and victims.

John Yates

The committee agrees with John Yates's own assessment that his 2009 review of this investigation was "very poor", that he did not ask the right questions and that he was guilty of a "serious misjudgement".

Andy Hayman

The committee criticises Andy Hayman's cavalier attitude towards his contacts with those in News International who were under investigation which, even if entirely above board, risked seriously undermining confidence in the impartiality of the police, and accuses him of deliberate prevarication in order to mislead the committee. It urges the swift and thorough investigation of allegations that payments were made to police officers by the media, which will help to establish whether or not such payments may have influenced police inquiries into phone hacking.

DAC Sue Akers

The committee welcomes DAC Sue Akers's decision to contact all potential victims of phone hacking by the News of the World as part of the current investigation, but is alarmed that only 170 have as yet been informed. At this rate it would take years to inform all of the several thousands of people potentially affected. The committee therefore recommends that extra resources are allocated to her investigation, by the Government directly if necessary.

Current laws

The committee also expresses concern about both the scope and understanding of current laws on phone hacking, with prosecutors and police still arguing over the meaning of relevant sections of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. However, this was no reason for the Metropolitan Police to limit their investigation of these matters. 

Information Commissioner

Finally, potential victims of phone hacking should be given a means of seeking formal advice from the Information Commissioner and easier access to redress. The Information Commissioner should be given additional powers to deal with breaches of data protection, including phone hacking and blagging. Mobile phone companies should give greater prominence to security advice in the information provided to their customers.

Committee Chair Right Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

"There has been a catalogue of failures by the Metropolitan Police, and deliberate attempts by News International to thwart the various investigations. Police and prosecutors have been arguing over the interpretation of the law.

The new inquiry requires additional resources and if these are not forthcoming, it will take years to inform all the potential victims. The victims of hacking should have come first and I am shocked that this has not happened."

Further Information

Image: iStockphoto

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