Metropolitan Police Service's response
to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee
1. In December 2005, concerns were reported
to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) by members of the Royal
household at Clarence House, relating to the illegal tapping of
mobile phones. As a result, the MPS launched a criminal investigation
and this identified the involvement of two men, namely Clive Goodman
(The Royal Editor of the News of the World newspaper) and Glen
Mulcaire (A Security Consultant).
2. The two men were engaged in a sophisticated
and wide ranging conspiracy to gather private and personal data,
principally about high profile figures, for financial gain. This
involved publishing material in the News of the World newspaper.
3. The MPS investigation found that these
two men had the ability to illegally intercept mobile phone voice
mails. They obtained private voicemail numbers and security codes
and used that information to gain access to voicemail messages
left on a number of mobile phones. It is important to note that
this is a difficult offence to prove evidentially and for an illegal
interception to take place, access must be gained to a person's
telephone and their voicemails listened too, prior to the owner
of the phone doing so. There will be other occasions where the
two men accessed voicemails but due to the technology available
at the time, it was not possible to prove via the telephone companies
if they had accessed the voicemails prior to or after the owner
of the mobile phone had done so. Hence, it was not possible to
prove if an illegal interception had taken place.
4. Their potential targets may have run
into hundreds of people, but the investigation showed from an
evidential viewpoint, that they only used the tactic against a
far smaller number of individuals.
5. The MPS first contacted the Crown Prosecution
Service (CPS) on 20 April 2006 seeking guidance about this investigation,
where an investigation strategy was agreed.
6. On 8 August 2006 both Clive Goodman and
Glen Mulcaire were arrested and both made no comment interviews.
On 9 August 2006 Goodman and Mulcaire were charged with conspiracy
to intercept communications, contrary to section 1 (1) of the
Criminal Law Act 1977, and eight substantive offences of unlawful
interception of communications, contrary to section 1 (1) of the
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The charges related
to accessing voice messages left on the mobile phones of members
of the Royal Household. The two were bailed to appear at the City
of London Magistrates' Court on 16 August 2006 when they were
sent to the Central Criminal Court for trial.
7. During searches, police seized vast amounts
of material, some of which was used in evidence. It is reasonable
to expect some of the material, although classed as personal data,
was in their legitimate possession, due to their respective jobs.
It is not necessarily correct to assume that their possession
of all this material was for the purposes of interception alone
and it is not known what their intentions was or how they intended
to use it.
8. When Mulcaire's business premises were
searched on 8 August, in addition to finding evidence that supported
the conspiracy between him and Goodman regarding the Royal Household
allegations, the MPS also uncovered further evidence of interception
and found a number of invoices. At that stage, it appeared these
invoices were for payments that Mulcaire had received from the
News of the World newspaper related to research that he had conducted
in respect of a number of individuals, none of whom had any connection
with the Royal Household. They included politicians, sports personalities
and other well known individuals.
9. The prosecution team (CPS and MPS) therefore
had to decide how to address this aspect of the case against Mulcaire.
At a case conference in August 2006, attended by the reviewing
lawyer, the police and leading counsel, decisions were made in
this respect and a prosecution approach devised.
10. From a prosecution point of view what
was important was that any case brought to court properly reflected
the overall criminal conduct of Goodman and Mulcaire. It was the
collective view of the prosecution team that to select five or
six potential victims would allow the prosecution properly to
present the case to the court and in the event of convictions,
ensure that the court had adequate sentencing powers.
11. To that end there was a focus on the
potential victims where the evidence was strongest, where there
was integrity in the data, corroboration was available and where
any charges would be representative of the potential pool of victims.
The willingness of the victims to give evidence was also taken
into account. Any other approach would have made the case unmanageable
and potentially much more difficult to prove. This is an approach
that is adopted routinely in cases where there are a large number
of potential offences.
12. Adopting this approach, five further
counts were added to the indictment against Mulcaire alone based
on his unlawful interception of voicemail messages left for Max
Clifford, Andrew Skylet, Gordon Taylor, Simon Hughes and Elle
13. In addition to obtaining evidence from
these persons, the MPS also asked the reviewing lawyer to take
a charging decision against one other suspect. On analysis, there
was insufficient evidence to prosecute that suspect and a decision
was made in November 2006 not to charge.
14. This progress in the case meant that
its preparation was completed by the time Goodman and Mulcaire
appeared at the Central Criminal Court on 29 November 2006 before
Mr Justice Gross. When they did appear at court, Goodman and Mulcaire
both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to intercept communicationsthe
voicemail messages left for members of the Royal Household. Mulcaire
alone pleaded guilty to the five further substantive counts in
respect of Max Clifford, Andrew Skylet, Gordon Taylor, Simon Hughes
and Elle MacPherson. Hence, in total 8 individuals were identified
as having had their telephones illegally intercepted.
15. Anyone who had been approached as a
potential witness for the criminal prosecution was advised and
informed that they had been the subject of illegal interception.
Thereafter during the course of the investigation police led on
informing anyone who they believed fell into the category of Government,
Military, Police or Royal Household, if we had reason to believe
that the suspects had attempted to ring their voicemail. This
was done on the basis of National Security. In addition, appropriate
Government agencies were briefed as to the general security risk
that police had identified and advised that if they had any further
concerns they should contact their own service provider.
16. For anybody else that may have been
affected, police provided the individual phone companies the details
of the telephone numbers (various) of the suspects and it was
agreed that they (the service provider) would individually research,
assess and address whether or not, and to what degree their customers
had been the subject of contact by the suspects. It was thereafter
a matter for the telephone companies to take appropriate action
to reassure their customers and introduce preventative measures
to ensure this type of interception did not recur.
17. On 26 January 2007 sentencing took place.
Goodman was sentenced to four months' imprisonment and Mulcaire
to a total of six months' imprisonment, with a confiscation order
made against him in the sum of £12,300. On sentencing the
two men, Mr Justice Gross at the Old Bailey said the case was
"not about press freedom, it was about a grave, inexcusable
and illegal invasion of privacy".
18. This case has been subject of the most
careful investigation by very experienced detectives. It has also
been scrutinised in detail by both the CPS and leading Counsel.
They have carefully examined all the evidence and prepared the
indictments that they considered appropriate. No additional evidence
has come to light since this case has concluded.
19. There has been much speculation about
potential criminal involvement of other journalists in this case.
Whilst it is true to say that other journalists names appeared
in the material seized by Police, there was insufficient evidence
to support any criminal conspiracy on their part.
20. Due to renewed publicity in this case
in the Guardian newspaper, the MPS Commissioner asked Assistant
Commissioner John Yates to establish the facts around the original
investigation into the unlawful tapping of mobile phones by Clive
Goodman and Glen Mulcaire and any wider issues in the reporting
by the Guardian. Assistant Commissioner Yates was not involved
in the original case and clearly came at this with an independent
mind. He released a press statement on 9 July 2009 and considered
that no further investigation was required as from the publicity,
no new evidence had come to light.
21. The MPS does recognise the very real
concerns, expressed by a number of people, who believe that their
privacy may have been intruded upon. In addition to those who
had already been informed in line with the aforementioned strategy
(ie those fitting into the category of Government, Military, Police
or Royal Household and the remainder being informed by the telephone
companies), Assistant Commissioner Yates committed to ensuring
that the MPS has been diligent, reasonable and sensible, and taken
all proper steps to ensure that where we have evidence that people
have been the subject of any form of phone tapping, or that there
is any suspicion that they might have been, that they were informed.
22. As a result, on 10 July 2009, the MPS
released a further press statement stating "The process
of contacting people is currently underway and we expect this
to take some time to complete".
23. It is also important to note that if
new evidence came to light then the MPS would consider it. Nothing
to date has been produced.
24. Following the CPS review of this case,
the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC confirmed
"As a result of what I have been told
I am satisfied that in the cases of Goodman and Mulcaire, the
CPS was properly involved in providing advice both before and
after charge; that the Metropolitan Police provided the CPS with
all the relevant information and evidence upon which the charges
were based; and that the prosecution approach in charging and
prosecuting was proper and appropriate. In light of my findings,
it would not be appropriate to re-open the cases against Goodman
or Mulcaire, or to revisit the decisions taken in the course of
investigating and prosecuting them".