Phone-hack cops guilty of 'catalogue of failures': lawmakers

20th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

British lawmakers accused Metropolitan police of a "catalogue of failures" and "deplored" News International's attempts to "deliberately thwart" the phone-hacking probe, in a report published Wednesday.

The Home Affairs Select Committee study agreed with outgoing Assistant Commissioner John Yates's assessment that Scotland Yard's initial hacking probe in 2005-2006 was "very poor" and said the policeman showed "serious misjudgement".

"There has been a catalogue of failures by the Metropolitan Police, and deliberate attempts by News International (NI) to thwart the various investigations," committee chairman Keith Vaz said on the report's release.

Yates testified before the committee's final hearing on Tuesday, a day after he followed Met boss Paul Stephenson in quitting Britain's leading force.

The 11-member cross-party group criticised police for discarding evidence which could have been used to identify perpetrators and victims and accused former deputy chief Andy Hayman, in charge of the original probe, of "deliberate prevarication".

Hayman, who wrote a column for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times after his departure from the police, was also lambasted for his "cavalier attitude towards his contacts with those in NI who were under investigation".

The report urged a "swift and thorough investigation" into allegations that NI employees paid police for stories.

Lawmakers demanded extra funding for Operation Weeting, the criminal investigation reopened in January, and praised Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers' decision to contact all potential victims.

"The new inquiry requires additional resources and if these are not forthcoming, it will take years to inform all the potential victims," Vaz warned.

"The victims of hacking should have come first and I am shocked that this has not happened," he added.

The committee quizzed senior past and present police chiefs after it was charged last September with examining the force's role in the spiralling crisis.

Stephenson quit after it emerged the force had paid former News of the World senior reporter Neil Wallis for public relations work while the paper was under investigation, and also took a free break at a spa where Wallis was a consultant.

Wallis was arrested last week on suspicion of conspiring to inercept communications.

© 2011 AFP

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