Home Affairs Committee write to PM with proposed terms of reference for Phone Hacking Inquiry

12 July 2011

The Prime Minister has said that in the establishment of any public inquiries into Phone Hacking he would consult the relevant Parliamentary Select Committees. The Home Affairs Committee has therefore written to the Prime Minister with their advice on what terms of reference should be used.

Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

“Following evidence from the Met today, it is essential that the public inquiries has the widest term of reference. It is also important that, where necessary the inquiry team should be able to issue interim reports so we are not in a position of having to wait years for recommendations.”

Letter from the Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP to Rt. Hon David Cameron PM

Dear David,

I refer to our conversation at the Police Bravery Awards last week.

May I warmly welcome the decision to hold an inquiry into the conduct of the original police investigation and to consult with the Home Affairs Committee on the terms of reference.

As you may know the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the unauthorised tapping and hacking of mobile communication is due to conclude oral evidence on Tuesday 12 July and is awaiting final correspondence from key witnesses.

I would be most grateful if when you consider the terms of reference with the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Prime Minister that you include consideration of the following points which have arisen from the Select Committee’s inquiry into phone hacking that was first launched on 1st September 2010: 

  • why there was such an extensive failure by the Metropolitan Police properly to investigate allegations of telephone hacking and other illegal activity when those allegations were first made;
  • the definition of the offences relating to unauthorised tapping or hacking in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and the ease of prosecuting such offences; 
  • whether the advice on the interpretation of section 1 of RIPA given by the CPS inappropriately limited the scope of the Metropolitan Police inquiry in 2006
  • the police response to such offences, especially the treatment of those whose communications have been intercepted; 
  • what the police are doing to control such offences;
  • what advice is given to mobile phone companies to control such offences;
  • what advice is given to mobile phone companies concerning contacting customers whose communication may have been intercepted;
  • the legal situation surrounding payment of police officers;
  • whether police officers were compromised by their relationships with journalists during the 2006 inquiry, and any measures that could be taken to control this;
  • whether police officers were subject to blackmail by those they were investigating and what steps should be taken to control this;
  • the adequacy of the vetting procedures applied to senior police officers;
  • whether it was appropriate for police officers involved in investigations later to be employed by those they had investigated (conflicts of interest); 
  • what it would be reasonable for police officers to receive by way of entertainment;
  • the regulation of private investigators;
  • the paucity of powers available to the Information Commissioner under the Data Protection Act – and in particular the scope of the public interest defence and the limits on fines;
  • whether criticism of the Metropolitan Police Service was suppressed by the use of public money to threaten legal action, contrary to the Derbyshire principle;
  • whether there should be advice to/restrictions on senior public officials such as the Director of Public Prosecutions about taking employment with those previously subject to investigations in which the officials were involved;
  • whether section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 could be used when dealing with the offence of phone hacking. 

Yours ever,
Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP
Committee Chairman

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