British policeman in tabloid inquiry says he was hacked

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

A top British police officer who decided in 2009 not to reopen an investigation into a phone hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid said Tuesday he was sure his own phone was targeted.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates blamed the newspaper, which Murdoch shut down last week as the scandal spiralled, for failing to cooperate fully with police or to hand over documents about the illegal practice.

"I am 99 percent sure that my phone was hacked during the period 2005-06," Yates said during questioning by a committee of British lawmakers.

Asked whether fears that his private life being targeted by the newspaper may have impacted upon his investigation, he said: "I categorically state that is not the case."

Yates also said it was a matter of "regret" that he had decided two years ago that the original probe into phone hacking did not need to be reopened despite new revelations.

The original 2006 police investigation led to the News of the World's then royal editor and a private investigator being jailed.

Many of the recent revelations, including claims that a teenage murder victim's voicemail messages were hacked into and deleted by News of the World, stem from the files seized from the investigator during that time.

But in the face of fierce questioning by MPs on Tuesday, Yates refused to accept overall responsibility and pinned blame on News International, the British newspaper arm of Murdoch's News Corporation business.

"The evidence that we should have had in 2005-6 and in 2009 has only recently been supplied by News International," he said, adding the the company had "clearly misled us".

Yates's comments came shortly after the scandal widened with claims by former prime minister Gordon Brown that the Murdoch-owned newspapers The Sunday Times and The Sun had improperly accessed personal information about him.

© 2011 AFP

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