Unauthorised tapping into or hacking of mobile communications
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Tuesday 12 July 2011
ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER John Yates
DEPUTY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER SUE AKERS
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Q319 Chair: Could we now move on to the phone hacking inquiry and could we call Assistant Commissioner Yates, please? Mr Yates, do you have all your officials near you?
AC Yates: I think those that I need are close by, yes.
Dr Huppert: Chairman, a point of order.
Chair: Yes, Dr Huppert.
Q320 Dr Huppert: It has been alleged that witnesses on our phone hacking inquiry have misled this Select Committee and another that is also looking at this issue. Would it be possible for you to clarify for us what the procedures are for investigating such serious allegations and what sanctions are available?
Chair: Yes, Dr Huppert. Thank you for giving me notice of this point of order. Witnesses who give false evidence, wilfully suppress the truth or persistently mislead a Committee may be considered guilty of contempt of the House of Commons. If a Committee thinks that the giving of false evidence is serious enough to be published as a contempt of the House, it will report the matter to the House. The House usually requires the witness’s attendance to explain him or herself. If the witness persists, the House may punish him or her for contempt. Does that satisfy you?
Dr Huppert: Yes.
Q321 Chair: Assistant Commissioner, thank you very much for coming to give evidence. I am most grateful. You were not on our list of people for today, but I phoned you on Sunday and you readily agreed to come in, and I am most grateful for that.
AC Yates: I wonder whether you would indulge me and allow me to make a very, very short opening statement, Chair. It is very short.
Chair: Yes, I will indulge you.
AC Yates: Thank you. I am very grateful to you for the opportunity to appear before you again on these matters. But I know from reading and listening to the media that concerns have been voiced about the interview that I gave to the Sunday Telegraph. In that interview I made it clear that had I known in July 2009 what I now know, I would have made different decisions. I expressed quite clearly and publicly my regrets in terms of the impact on those potentially affected as a result. I would be very concerned if in doing this I am judged to be in any way disrespectful to this Committee or any other Committee. That is far from what I would ever do. But I can assure you all that I have never lied, and all the information that I provided to this Committee and others has been given in good faith.
Just briefly turning to my expression of regret, I consider the Telegraph article fairly reflects my views on these matters over what was a lengthy and wide-ranging interview. I cannot speak for the first investigation. I know you have Peter Clarke and Andy Hayman following me. However, for my part in respect of victims, I made it clear to this Committee at my last appearance in March that more could have been done regarding those potentially affected. However, I also reiterate-
Q322 Chair: Is it coming to an end?
AC Yates: It is coming to an end, Chair. I also reiterate, and it is a matter of great concern, that, for whatever reason, the News of the World appears to have failed to cooperate in the way that we now know they should have with the relevant police inquiries up until January of this year. They have only recently supplied information and evidence that would clearly have had a significant impact on the decisions that I took in 2009 had it been provided to us then.
Q323 Chair: I think we can stop there, and we will come on in a moment, because that is very helpful. Thank you very much for that. Arising directly out of that, Mr Yates, can I take you back to the evidence that you gave to this Committee the last time you appeared? You told me, in answer to a question when I asked you about the 91 PIN numbers that had been found, that you went out of your way-I think the words you used were that even if there was the remotest possibility-I have the quote here: "I indicated last year to say that even if there is the remotest possibility that someone may have been hacked, let’s look and see if there is another category." You went on to tell me and this Committee, and therefore Parliament, "It is out of a spirit of abundance of caution to make sure that we were ensuring that those who may have been hacked were contacted by us". It turns out that, of course, this did not happen.
AC Yates: I don’t want to get back into the debate about what constitutes a victim of hacking because I think that has been well aired in terms of the legal issues. But we went through a process and I have agreed it was tardy and it was not quick enough, but to the best of my intentions that is what we intended to do up until January this year, when that clearly stopped and has been handed over to the new inquiry. But indeed that was my intention. We have had the debate, as I said, about the narrow focus of victims and what constitutes a victim of hacking. I have said before to this Committee and others in terms of I have always said that Glenn Mulcaire was a private investigator-
Chair: You have, but, Mr Yates-
AC Yates: Can I finish here?
Q324 Chair: We would like if we could to have very brief answers rather than long answers.
AC Yates: But these are complex matters.
Q325 Chair: They are complex matters, but I have looked at the transcript last time and I think there is a chance of misinterpretation unless we are strictly answering the question. You described the previous inquiry that you conducted in 2009 in the Telegraph as, and I quote your words, "It was crap". Are those your words or they were the words of the Telegraph?
AC Yates: It was an unfortunate choice of word. "It was poor" is what I should have been quoted as, but I did actually use that phrase. But what I intended to say-
Q326 Chair: You said today that it was tardy, but we have just had a huge amount of information, for example, that the phone of Milly Dowler was hacked. Who is your apology being made for today? Is it for the victims of the hacking? Is it to the family of Milly Dowler? Is it to Parliament? Who are you apologising to?
AC Yates: I am regretting, I expressed regret, that we did not do enough about dealing with those who were potentially affected by phone hacking, potentially affected. I have held my hands up and I passionately believe in doing the right thing around these matters. If I am found out to be wrong or made an error, then I will hold my hands up, but please do not take that admission as in any way accepting that I accept responsibility for what News International have not done with regard to this case from 2005 through to 2006, through 2009, through 2010, and even up until yesterday, when you have read in the papers about what took place then. Please do not take that as an admission that I am accepting responsibility for that.
Q327 Chair: No, we understand that. You have been very clear. News International, you have told us today, did not co-operate with you, and we will come on to that in other questions. But specifically on what Sir Paul Stephenson asked you to do, and in your letter to this Committee you sent us a copy of the press release that he put out when he asked you to establish the facts. Now, you took a day to do this, is that right, from 10 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon?
AC Yates: No, it was to establish the facts about the article in the Guardian. The purpose of that was to say is there anything new in that article that we as the police or others are not aware of, and was there any new evidence in that article that needs addressing. The plain fact on that day was that there was not. There was not. You have seen from the letter I wrote to you the levels of assurance that I had both then and subsequently from the DPP, from counsel, saying there is nothing there that requires further investigation. Now, hindsight is a great issue-
Chair: It is a great gift.
AC Yates: It is a great science, and later it is clearly found that that is not the case. But in July 2009 to the best of my knowledge and belief and in good faith I made that decision.
Q328 Chair: But you still maintain that the inquiry that you conducted, even though it was not an inquiry in your words-
AC Yates: Not an inquiry.
Chair: Well, the look at the papers that you had was poor?
AC Yates: Hindsight says it was, of course, but we did not have the-
Q329 Chair: I am just going by your words to the Telegraph. You have said it was. Forget about hindsight. You have made this very clear. Haven’t you said that you regard it as being poor?
AC Yates: Regard it in hindsight. Had I known what I should have known, it is a poor decision. It is a poor decision, that is clearly the case. I cannot say anything more than that. But the fact of the matter was we did not have the information that we should have done, and that is very clear.
Q330 Michael Ellis: Assistant Commissioner Yates, you are a command level police officer. I find it extraordinary that you seek to divert the blame on to wrongdoers in this matter. In policing, you clearly have to investigate people for doing wrong things. You are now saying, "Well, it was because others did not co-operate with me that we didn’t get to the bottom of the matter." You have responsibility, do you not?
AC Yates: I do.
Q331 Michael Ellis: For not investigating the matter fully?
AC Yates: No. Well, I accept some of that responsibility, but only in part. The fact of the matter was-
Q332 Michael Ellis: You expect wrongdoers to co-operate with police inquiries?
AC Yates: In terms of journalistic material, there is a tried and tested process designed by Parliament to the way you can actually gain that material. If the individual from whom you are seeking it cooperates to a certain extent, and I will give you an example if you like of letters we wrote to News International on 31 August, a reply from 31 August 2006. I quote, "that my clients intend to provide such material as you or your colleagues might reasonably require from them in connection with your inquiries". I quote again-
Q333 Chair: Mr Yates, sorry, order. Mr Yates, we do not need lots of quotes from your letters to News International because we accept-
AC Yates: This is quotes from them, Mr Vaz. I am trying-
Q334 Chair: We accept what you have just said. We are talking about your conduct, not News International’s conduct. Mr Ellis has asked about your conduct.
AC Yates: In considering the question that I was posed, that I had failed in my responsibilities-
AC Yates: -part of the issue was what are we able to do further with News International through their lawyers to gain additional material. The answer is there is nothing we could have done. We sought advice about getting a production order, how we can do that, but the fact of the matter was News International carefully crafted their letters to us to indicate they were prepared to cooperate.
Q335 Michael Ellis: No, Mr Yates, this was about you, this was about policing, not about what alleged wrongdoers were or were not doing. Why did you not properly review the evidence that was sitting in bags at Scotland Yard? Why did you not look at that properly? We want to know.
AC Yates: Because there was nothing to indicate to me in July 2009 out of the article that was written in the Guardian that there was new material in there that would justify the investment of resources to go through all that material. Let me be clear here, that material may have been placed in bin bags, as is the common parlance, but it was all material in exhibits bags that were placed in bin bags. That material was gone through by counsel at the time in 2005-06. It was reviewed by counsel in the light of the indictment that they had framed, so it had been reviewed.
Q336 Michael Ellis: Forgive me, Mr Yates, you know that when counsel is focused on a particular indictment they are going to be focused on looking for evidence about that indictment. Your responsibility was to look for matters outside of the individual indictment in that case. You had thousands of pages of documents. Why did you not look at them?
AC Yates: Mr Ellis, the case had been finished. Two people had gone to court and had been sentenced. All the material-I appreciate the point about relevance-had been seen by counsel and reviewed by the CPS as well. I think it is accepted-I daren’t say this-I think it is accepted that there was nothing in that Guardian article on 9 July 2009 that said, "That is new. We don’t know about it in the police." We knew about that, so what would possibly persuade me, in the absence of any new evidence, to make those choices in that sense?
Chair: Thank you, Mr Yates, that is very helpful. We are now going to move on. Can I say to colleagues I know you all have searching questions of the witness, but could we keep them as brief as possible?
Q337 Mark Reckless: Assistant Commissioner, I understand that you did not review this material on this date, 9 July, but you wrote to us on 8 July just now saying that the DPP ordered an urgent examination of all the material supplied to the CPS. Do you know what came out of that?
AC Yates: Yes, he came to the conclusion-did I not put it in the letter? His conclusion was-I think it is in the letter, isn’t it?
Q338 Mark Reckless: That it was the responsibility for the DPP to order a review of all that material rather than the police.
AC Yates: I think it is a joint responsibility. Prosecution is a collaborative effort. He clearly acts independently, and he took the choice, he took the view to have a look at it himself and he did it with counsel, and there are memorandums to that effect as to what the result was. But he came to the same conclusion as me then on the basis of what we knew then.
Q339 Mark Reckless: On this issue of the broad or narrow interpretation of the hacking offense and the DPP’s role in that, are you aware that the DPP wrote to me on 15 April this year and again appeared to adopt a narrow interpretation, stating, "I have given further thought to the matter. My view is that the CPS analysis is correct, namely the judgment of Lord Woolf appeared to suggest that once the intended recipient had collected the message the communication was no longer in the course of transmission and, therefore, there could be no interception and no offence committed under section 1".
AC Yates: I am not sure I can say a lot more. That is the view that I thought we were given in 2005-06. That is how-and Peter will speak for himself-I firmly believe and all the documentation shows how the inquiry was shaped. It is clearly still a confused picture and I have seen one of those letters but I have not seen-
Q340 Dr Huppert: Mr Yates, I am sorry to ask you this, but have you or anyone on your behalf ever been contacted by News of the World or anyone from News International about your private life and stories they might run about it?
AC Yates: No.
Q341 Dr Huppert: You will know there are allegations in the Evening Standard and elsewhere to suggest that?
AC Yates: I absolutely do know that, and you can see that the article was taken down at my request very, very swiftly, because it is clearly libellous.
Q342 Dr Huppert: Indeed. Now, in fact, that brings me to something I was going to ask you later. Last time we saw you, you hotly denied that you had ever misled this Committee and I think you threatened to sue Chris Bryant, who I think is over here, for suggesting that some of the things that you said were misleading. Now The Independent reported you were furious you had said things to Parliament that proved to be inaccurate. What were the things that you said that were inaccurate to us before?
AC Yates: In terms of what I knew about what News International have allegedly-because these matters are being investigated-been up to in terms of what I saw in January of this year prior to handing it over, it is abundantly clear that if I had that relevant documentation in 2009, or indeed if the first team had had it in 2005, they would have made some very different decisions about the scope and scale of the investigation they conducted. But I need to be careful in terms of saying more on that issue.
Every answer I have given to this Committee and other Committees has been in good faith on the basis of what I knew and what I had been briefed.
Q343 Chair: But you accept that some of them are wrong?
AC Yates: It may well be the case. I have given evidence on a number of occasions. I can’t possibly be expected to be able to recall each line. But in light of what I have said and what we have been told, and what I know now, having been provided with new material, we always said we would reopen the investigation. I always said we would reopen the investigation if new material was provided. It is exactly what we did in January.
Q344 Chair: So you would like to put on record your apology to this Committee?
AC Yates: In the same way as I have written to the Mayor and I have written to other people, yes, if I have unwittingly misled this Committee on the basis that I did not have the information at that time, then that is a matter of regret; of course it is.
Q345 Mr Winnick: When you gave evidence last time in March, Mr Yates, you were asked by me about the closeness between the Metropolitan Police and News International, and your reply was rather dismissive about that. You said that you probably dined more with the Guardian than with News International, although I am not aware that the Guardian was under police investigation. Is it not the fact that during the course of the investigation you did, in fact, in your own words, engage with News International at senior level and that not to do so would not make any sense to you? Do you remember your answer?
AC Yates: I am not sure which timeframes you are suggesting, but I have never investigated these matters, and that has been very clear. I was asked to establish the facts in July 2009.
Chair: Sorry, could you speak up, Mr Yates?
AC Yates: Sorry. I have never investigated these matters. They have come under my oversight in terms of some of the issues that have arisen, but there has never been an investigation that I have led in regard to these matters. As soon as new information came, new evidence came, in January 2011, I handed it over. You have to be more precise about the dates you are talking about, Mr Winnick.
Q346 Mr Winnick: During the course of the investigation-
AC Yates: Which investigation, Mr Winnick?
Mr Winnick: The Metropolitan Police investigation.
Chair: I think Mr Winnick means your review of the evidence in-
Mr Winnick: Were you in contact socially with the most senior people in News International?
AC Yates: At some stage in the past two years, yes, I have been. I have been absolutely open about that. But it was not being investigated at that point. The investigation was closed. In July 2009 I did not reopen it, so I have not been in contact-during a live investigation under my oversight, no, I have not.
Q347 Mr Winnick: What surprises a lot of people is that an ongoing investigation by the Metropolitan Police, whether or not you were yourself involved, has a situation where a very senior police officer, like yourself, socially engages with those who are being investigated, and it would not happen if the Met Police were investigating other people.
AC Yates: Let us be clear. There are corrupt people in the Metropolitan Police, we know that as a matter of fact. There always will be. But people will engage with me on the basis of that. I had no idea. I had no idea and, as I say, it is a matter for Sue how wide this investigation is currently going, but as far as I was concerned from July 2009, and even July 2005-06, this affected two people. This affected a rogue reporter. That was what we honestly believed to be the case. Does that mean you can’t then engage at any number of levels with News International or other people?
Q348 Chair: We will come back to this. In the New York Times today there is an article, which seems to confirm some of the points made by Dr Huppert; have you seen this article on the News of the World?
AC Yates: No, I have not.
Q349 Chair: It makes allegations that it is because of your personal life that you were put under pressure by News International. Can you categorically say that that was not the case?
AC Yates: I categorically state that that was not the case to each and every one of you. I think it is despicable; I think it is cowardly. This is not the case, it is untrue, and can be proved to be untrue.
Q350 Chair: Can you confirm for the record that you have not been hacked? Nobody has ever suggested to you that your telephone number was in the numbers that were in the documents?
AC Yates: It has been suggested to me that it might-not in the current investigation.
Q351 Chair: Not in Operation Weeting?
AC Yates: Not in Operation Weeting, although that is also-
Q352 Chair: What about Operation Yates, which lasted a day?
AC Yates: Touché.
Q353 Chair: So who told you this, that you were being hacked?
AC Yates: From the methods I know that are used and the impact it has on your phone, your PIN number, I am 99% certain my phone was hacked during a period of 2005-06. Who by? I don’t know, the records don’t exist any more, but from the modus operandi that I know how it happens-
Chair: Your phone was hacked between-
AC Yates: -my phone was hacked, as have been a number of other people.
Q354 Chair: Did this come up as a result of Mr Hayman’s investigation?
AC Yates: No.
Q355 Chair: He did not see you and tell you you were being hacked?
AC Yates: No.
Q356 Chair: Where did it arrive then?
AC Yates: It arrived from my own knowledge, as in I know what has happened to my phone, and it was at a particularly difficult time for the Met, so I think it is more or less likely.
Q357 Lorraine Fullbrook: I have several questions. First of all, Assistant Commissioner Yates, I am frankly astounded at the incompetence that has been displayed here. I would like to ask you-
AC Yates: I missed the first bit.
Chair: Mrs Fullbrook is astounded by the incompetence that she has heard today.
Lorraine Fullbrook: I would like to firstly ask you; following your mass apology, why did you decide only to give an interview to the Telegraph?
AC Yates: These things are always a balance. I don’t think it would have been wise to give an interview to News International. I take advice from senior press officers. That was felt to be a fairly balanced-
Q358 Lorraine Fullbrook: And they advised you only to give it to the Telegraph, did they?
AC Yates: It is always a balance. That was considered to be the most sensible outlet for the type of interview it was. That is what happened.
Q359 Lorraine Fullbrook: If it was your way of apologising to the victims, to the Committee, to the people, why did you not issue a press release of apology to all news outlets?
AC Yates: Because it is trying to get it across in a way that people can understand the context of it, and a press release is interesting, but the advice that I get, and others will probably give you in terms of how you get your message across, is that sometimes an interview is better.
Q360 Lorraine Fullbrook: Let’s just go to the message that you are trying to get across then. You said that there was not enough evidence to review this inquiry. You had 11,000 pages and in eight hours of consideration, including consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service and investigating officers, you decided there was no investigation to be had; is that correct?
AC Yates: It is the same answer that I gave to Mr Ellis.
Q361 Lorraine Fullbrook: Is that correct?
Chair: I think she wants a yes or no answer.
AC Yates: But I want to give some context around it and I don’t want to take up your time with the Committee so I am not prepared to give-
Q362 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can we stop with the smokescreens and just answer yes or no?
AC Yates: It is not a smokescreen.
Q363 Lorraine Fullbrook: Your evidence to the Telegraph said that it took eight hours for you to decide that this inquiry did not need to be taken any further. It was 11,000 pages of material.
AC Yates: I will have to repeat a qualified yes, because I have explained in my previous answer-I will adopt my previous answer to Mr Ellis, if that helps, in terms of there was nothing new in the Guardian article, this was not a full-scale review, two people had gone to prison. I could go on, but I adopt my previous answer.
Q364 Lorraine Fullbrook: Who was the legal advice from that you took during that eight hours? Who did you take legal advice from?
AC Yates: It was looking at the previous legal advice we had got.
Q365 Lorraine Fullbrook: The people, who were the people that you took the legal advice from?
Chair: Sorry, you were looking at the previous legal advice?
AC Yates: The legal advice, all the legal advice-
Q366 Chair: So is the answer to Mrs Fullbrook’s question that you did not take fresh legal advice in the eight hours?
AC Yates: We had the legal advice.
Q367 Chair: So you did not take fresh legal advice?
AC Yates: No, we did not. No.
Q368 Chair: I think that is the answer she was asking for. The question she was asking is, "Did you take fresh legal advice?" and the answer is no.
AC Yates: But can we be clear on what I was asked to do? I was asked to establish the facts of, is there anything new in that regard, and we don’t know about it. Some very capable people in my department said, "We know all about that, that has been considered before, therefore-"
Q369 Lorraine Fullbrook: So you did not take fresh legal advice-
AC Yates: No, I did not.
Lorraine Fullbrook: -during that eight hours, and you decided that this needed no more investigation; is that correct?
AC Yates: Yes, and two or three days later the DPP did the same, and I think within about 10 days he came to exactly the same conclusion.
Q370 Chair: Can I just be clear-sorry, Mrs Fullbrook, because this goes directly to the next question I am sure you are going to ask-this is what Sir Paul Stephenson said, "As a result of that I have asked Assistant Commissioner John Yates to establish the facts of that case and look into that detail, and I would anticipate making a statement later today." So he asked you to look at the facts and the detail; is that right?
AC Yates: Yes.
Q371 Lorraine Fullbrook: On the 11,000 pages of evidence that you decided in eight hours was not sufficient to make a decision, can I ask you why it took three years before you decided to even put it on a computer database, let alone look at it?
AC Yates: That is not the case.
Q372 Lorraine Fullbrook: That is what you said in the Telegraph.
AC Yates: That is wrong then, because it was on 20 July, I think, 2009, and there is documentation to support this, which I can provide you, Mrs Fullbrook, that I asked-I gave some very clear instructions about what I wanted to happen with that material, and the whole purpose of that was the level of concern that we had: people were ringing in, writing in and concerned about were they on a system. I could not tell them, so I took the decision 11 days in-I think it was 20 July 2009-to put all those matters on a searchable system in which we could draw that information. It took a number of months.
Q373 Lorraine Fullbrook: Are you saying that the Telegraph, the article is incorrect?
AC Yates: I need to go and look at it myself to make sure the context-
Lorraine Fullbrook: I am sure we can get a copy for you. Can I ask-
Chair: Sorry, Mrs Fullbrook, can I stop you? I will come back to you. Could I take Bridget Phillipson now?
Q374 Bridget Phillipson: Mr Yates, as an experienced police officer do you find it surprising that people who may have committed criminal offences do not necessarily want to co-operate with the police?
AC Yates: No, I don’t, but I am going to get back into what production orders are about, and that may be a matter for Parliament to look at, because it is very clear that production orders, if there is a level of co-operation, and the lawyers among you will know this, provided by the person from whom who are seeking the information, you have to be absolutely certain they are obstructing you. There was no indication, and I have read those quotes out to you from letters from News International. They were very careful around that.
Q375 Bridget Phillipson: It is just people might find it surprising that there appears to be one rule for big corporations and another rule if anyone else was to be suspected of having committed criminal acts.
AC Yates: That is absolutely not the case. It is absolutely not the case. It is the law. It is a schedule 1 production order. It is the law about how you can go about that. It does not matter if you are a big corporation, whether it is journalistic material or whatever it is, that is the law as it stands at the moment.
Q376 Bridget Phillipson: You previously headed up the so-called cash-for-honours investigation and you rightly assumed a very thorough and robust investigation that followed the evidence. Can you explain the reasons for the difference there and the difference here?
AC Yates: Yes, I can, because it is simply a matter of following the evidence. The evidence that we should have had in 2005-06 and in 2009 has only recently been brought to light by News International. That has resulted in a huge investigation being commenced, which Sue will be speaking about, which is following the evidence. We simply were not provided with that material when we should have been.
Q377 Bridget Phillipson: How were you able to obtain the evidence in the so-called cash-for-honours scandal but you were not able to do so in this case?
AC Yates: It is a completely different investigation. There were a number of lines of inquiry. This is three or four years ago, so I am sure it is not relevant to this Committee now, but there were a number of lines of inquiry-
Q378 Chair: No, it is not relevant, except for the process, I think.
AC Yates: The process is follow the evidence, and the evidence there required to be followed. I know I have been criticised for that in a number of quarters, but that is the process.
Q379 Chair: I am going to call Nicola Blackwood, but I am going to hand you a list of names that has come off the Guardian blog, which sets out the number of people who have been warned by Operation Weeting concerning the fact that their phones have been hacked, and I want you to look at it while you are giving evidence to see whether or not you recognise any of those names. One of the names, of course, is Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister. When you looked at the files, was there any mention of the former Prime Minister’s name, or the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, both of whose names appear on that list and both of whom have been warned by Operation Weeting that their phones had been hacked? Of course, Mr Hayman’s name is also on there. Is that the first time you have seen that list of names?
AC Yates: Yes, and my own name of course. It is the first time I have seen these names, and I am sure this is one for Sue to respond to, because this is Operation Weeting.
Q380 Chair: But you did not see that in the eight hours you looked at the review?
AC Yates: No.
Q381 Nicola Blackwood: One of the major concerns that we all have is the relatively low priority that was given to this investigation at the time. The excuse that appears to be given is other counterterror issues that were arising at the time, in particular the Al Qaeda plot to blow up the trans-Atlantic airlines. While the Committee can understand that, I am a little concerned that when you sat at your desk in Scotland Yard in 2009 you did not perhaps consider this ICO report from 2006, which said, "Investigations by the ICO and the police uncovered evidence of widespread and organised undercover market of confidential personal information. Among the buyers are many journalists looking for a story. In one major case investigated by the ICO the evidence included records of information supplied to 305 named journalists working for a range of newspapers." Were you aware of this report and the fact that there was this kind of industrial level hacking going on at the time?
AC Yates: Yes, I was aware of the report and it is an ICO investigation under a very narrow remit.
Nicola Blackwood: It says that there was ICO and police evidence.
Chair: He knows about the investigation. What is your question, Ms Blackwood?
Q382 Nicola Blackwood: In the light of that then, did you not think it might be appropriate to go back over the 11,000 documents, which were in bin bags, to look at them and see whether there was any additional evidence, which was not associated with the two indictments, which were covered by Mr Ellis’s questions, to see whether there might be additional avenues and additional leads that could be followed up in a manner similar to the cash-for-honours investigation.
AC Yates: It is a very fair question, but you talked about command decision. What you have to do occasionally, you do take decisions, you base them on risk and you consider them fully about what are the other issues, and I have given you the levels of reassurance I had. There was simply no reason at that time. The ICO is a completely different matter, it judges on a different standard of evidence against different offences. It was a decision taken. Now, in the light of what we now know, it was not a very good decision, but it is solely-I will repeat it-it is solely as a result of the new information provided by News International who clearly misled us. They clearly misled us.
Q383 Nicola Blackwood: Was there a feeling that you were going to do the minimum necessary in order to show that you had looked at the facts and that there was nothing new in this case because you have more important things to be getting on with?
AC Yates: There is probably an element of that but if there had been any new evidence there, if I had seen any new evidence there, then of course-
Q384 Nicola Blackwood: But you did not even take new legal advice, so you just looked at the documentation from before.
AC Yates: I was supported later by the DPP and by counsel.
Q385 Chair: After, it was supported by the DPP?
AC Yates: It was a short while later, yes. But it came to the same conclusion.
Q386 Chair: Just following the questioning of Ms Blackwood. On that day you did not take legal advice, did you speak to Mr Hayman and did you speak to Mr Clarke about their investigation?
AC Yates: No, I did not, because I spoke to the senior investigating officer.
Q387 Chair: Who was whom?
AC Yates: Who is Phil Williams. He has given evidence with me, I think, to this Committee.
Q388 Chair: And he said everything was fine?
AC Yates: We had a very detailed conversation about the structure of the investigation, I looked at the decision logs in terms of how it was managed. I think I have referred in the letter to a range of issues that I considered. I think I have read them to this Committee beforehand that I used before coming to my view.
Q389 Alun Michael: A new investigation will presumably arise either from new evidence, and you have covered that aspect, or from a general concern that would indicate the need to take a fresh look at the evidence. In September 2010, you were unable to tell me whether a live investigation was taking place at that time. Was there?
AC Yates: Well no, we were scoping the information that had been published in the New York Times, I think on 1 September last year. Again it is very interesting in terms of how that was managed in terms of the level of co-operation we had from News International-
Alun Michael: Forgive me; was there a live investigation?
AC Yates: There was not a live investigation, no. It was a scoping study. It went to the CPS for advice in terms of whether they thought that anything required further investigation. I think I referred to it in the last paragraph of my letter, so the CPS viewed then that it did not meet the evidential threshold.
Q390 Alun Michael: Looking at your letter, a lot of people were under the impression that your role in autumn 2009, and again in 2010, was to review the 2006 investigation. Your letter to us dated 8 July emphasises that you did not conduct a review of the 2006 evidence. Can you explain exactly what you and your team did do in 2009?
AC Yates: In 2009, yes. Again, I think to this Committee-it might have been Culture, Media and Sport-I made it very clear, and it is in the transcripts there, exactly what I did in terms of the approach that I took in terms of those matters. There was a range of points that I touched on, if you like, in terms of what I was looking at. I can provide that document to you because it was a contemporaneous document. But it was around the range and the scope of the original investigation. It was around the evidential advice we had received. There were about 10 or 12 points that I went through on that day, and that was the approach we took in May. In 2010 it was different; it was potentially new information within the New York Times and so we put a new team on it with a new investigating officer.
Q391 Alun Michael: You talked again about new evidence but is it not the case that there was evidence available in 2006 that really should have been pursued at that time?
AC Yates: That may well be the case, and if there is it is a matter of regret.
Q392 Mr Clappison: Can I come on to that, because we want to know what evidence was available to you when you carried out that review? You told us you have bin bags full of evidence, a lot of which came from Mr Mulcaire; is that right? It was seized from him.
AC Yates: Yes.
Q393 Mr Clappison: Was all of that evidence read by police officers?
AC Yates: My understanding is that it was bagged up in the way you would expect them to be bagged up and it was individually considered and reviewed. Also my understanding is that counsel later did that with police officers.
Q394 Mr Clappison: Police officers have read through all of the material themselves?
AC Yates: That is probably a matter for Peter or Andy to address, because it was their investigation, not mine. So I can’t really account for that, because it was not on my watch, if you like. But what I was clear about is that it had been reviewed for relevance by counsel during the course of the original investigation, so again that gave me a level of assurance that it had been looked at.
Q395 Mr Clappison: Can you tell us if the material, which was available to you in 2006, disclosed the names of any other people who had been subject to phone hacking, or any other journalist concerned in that phone hacking other than appeared on the indictment in the trials, which were subsequently held at the court?
AC Yates: I can’t possibly answer that question. It is a huge amount of paper. It may be one for others to answer, but I can’t.
Q396 Mr Clappison: Why not?
AC Yates: Because I don’t know what was in 11,000 pages.
Q397 Mr Clappison: Surely that is a very important question in carrying out the review, because you wanted to know where the evidence led to.
AC Yates: Ask me the question and I can go away and consider it, but you cannot possibly expect me to know the names of 11,000 people on paper.
Q398 Mr Clappison: Did you ask the police officers, who had been carrying out the investigation, if there were any other people whose names had not been mentioned in the trial or any other journalists who the evidence showed had been involved in phone hacking? Did you ask that question?
AC Yates: We are at cross-purposes in terms of-I thought you were talking about victims.
Chair: Let us be clear, so Mr Clappison will put his question again so that we are not at cross-purposes here.
Q399 Mr Clappison: Were police aware of any other victims of phone hacking or journalists suspected of involvement in phone hacking whose names have come to light within the material that was in your hands in 2006 that was not disclosed at trial?
AC Yates: The only aspect I was aware of, and this is the best of my memory, is the name Neville, and everyone has assumed that is Neville, the chief reporter, or the ex-chief reporter of the News of the World.
Q400 Mr Clappison: That is Mr Clive Goodman, is it?
AC Yates: No, Neville, as in Neville Thurlbeck, which has been raised in this forum before. That is the only other aspect-that is the only bit I can recall. That too is subject-the appearance of that name and its relevance to an evidential standard was also reviewed by the CPS and the DPP, and he gave a very clear and, I think, it was a written confirmation that just the name "Neville" would not meet a threshold required to pursue it further.
Q401 Mr Clappison: You were used, as police officers, to pursuing evidence. Had Mr Thurlbeck, or any other reporter on the News of the World, been interviewed at the time?
AC Yates: No, and I have accepted that he ought to have been and, again, others will talk about whether he has or has not now. I have accepted that he ought to have been.
Q402 Mr Clappison: Can I just take you from the point you made about Parliament, pushing this all back on to Parliament and production orders. Are you aware that in fact some people whose names turned up in that material in 2006 took out private civil justice litigation themselves and discovered through that that the police had their names in their possession? Are you aware that that happened?
AC Yates: I think that is a matter of public record, and there is a judicial review under way involving several people where that is being tested in the court, and we will have to wait for the outcome of that.
Q403 Steve McCabe: Assistant Commissioner, I guess one of the difficulties for everybody here is that you just do not sound like the dogged determined sleuth that we would expect. When you said to Mr Ellis earlier that one of the central problems was the lack of co-operation from News International, I just wondered how you reconciled that with your remarks in your interview where you said that most newspapers would have done the same if a cop turned up with a dodgy-looking warrant. That kind of implies that you were a bit dismissive at the outset. Is that a reasonable conclusion to draw?
AC Yates: No, it is my direct experience that if you go to newspaper offices with warrants you are not exactly-
Q404 Steve McCabe: Why did you use the term "dodgy-looking warrant"? That is what I am asking.
AC Yates: It is semantics. Perhaps another example of inappropriate-
Q405 Steve McCabe: When you reminded us of your rank and said that you were not going to go down and look at bin bags, was that just an unfortunate choice of words in view of what has happened?
AC Yates: No, I just don’t think-I have something like 4,500 people working underneath me-
Q406 Steve McCabe: You’d think one of them might have gone in and had a look.
AC Yates: I don’t think you would expect me, with the scale of command and responsibility I have around counterterrorism, protection, all those issues, to be utilising my time to go down examining every bit of paper in a bin bag or in exhibits bags. There is a command structure underneath that allows that to happen and 99% of the time it happens very successfully.
Q407 Steve McCabe: I think most people would think in view of what has happened that maybe someone should have gone and looked at all the evidence.
AC Yates: I have looked at examples of the material, because it is-
Q408 Steve McCabe: If someone had looked, you would have known that there were 4,000 names, and that is something you did not know, because that would mean looking at fresh new evidence.
AC Yates: Mr McCabe, I have always said that there were potentially hundreds of people affected by Mulcaire, and that he is a private investigator and would have material-
Q409 Steve McCabe: Can I ask one last thing? When you said that this has damaged the police, did you mean in part your behaviour has damaged the Met, and is that what you meant by you should hold your hands up personally?
AC Yates: I think some of the decisions that I have taken in terms of if I had known now or I knew then what I know now, then they would have been different. I think it does look damaging. As I say, I am very happy to hold my hands up when things have not gone right, but don’t take that as an admission that I am responsible for what people have not done.
Q410 Steve McCabe: No, what I am asking is do you feel that your behaviour has, in part, damaged the Met? Is that what you are telling us?
AC Yates: No, I am not saying that. I think behaviour is a very pejorative term, so I do not think it is my behaviour-
Chair: Your conduct of the inquiry.
AC Yates: I think my oversight of the inquiry in terms of where-would I wish we could turn the clock back and have the material? Yes, I do.
Q411 Chair: We would all wish to turn the clock back, but specifically on this point, you mentioned in your article the trust that you felt was perhaps at risk because of what has happened in the way in which the Met had conducted these inquiries. Given what you have said and the apologies that you have made, have you considered your position as to whether or not you should continue in your present position, bearing in mind that you have accepted that this has been a fundamental error in the way in which this inquiry was conducted? Have you offered to resign?
AC Yates: No, I have not offered to resign. If you are suggesting that I should resign for what News of the World has done and my very small part in it then I think that is probably unfair.
Q412 Chair: I am just putting to you what we have been asked to put to you. You think you do not need to resign and you have not considered it?
AC Yates: I have given you a very fair reply.
Chair: Thank you. Now we are going to go to very quick questions from Committee members. We have other witnesses, and I am sure Mr Yates needs to be released to go and do his other work as the head of counterterrorism and cannot spend all morning with us, although we would like him to stay. Can I go through quick questions from each member?
Q413 Michael Ellis: Assistant Commissioner Yates, you said in an answer to a question put by several of my colleagues that you did not handle this investigation the same way as you have handled previous ones because you were just following the evidence in those. But here you had 11,000 pages and it was obvious, was it not, that there was more to it than the two people involved, so you did not follow the evidence in this case; that is right, isn’t it?
AC Yates: I felt the evidence had been followed and I felt that the case-
Q414 Michael Ellis: But you knew there were 11,000 pages sitting there and it was not just about the two people that you have repeatedly mentioned, because those two people involved who were later prosecuted were involved in matters pertaining to royal and therefore national security, so it was not a routine humdrum case. You had 11,000 pages. You knew dozens, if not hundreds, of other people were involved. It was national security implications. So you were still having dinner with journalists after that; is that right?
AC Yates: What is the question? I thought-
Q415 Chair: The question is were you still having dinner with News International despite the fact that you had not conducted a thorough inquiry into them?
AC Yates: Well, I believe I had done all that was required in July 2009.
Q416 Michael Ellis: I thought you said you were not happy with how you did it?
AC Yates: I am not happy now because I know things are very different now in light of the information that has been provided.
Q417 Lorraine Fullbrook: Can I ask, Assistant Commissioner, have you ever received a payment from anybody relating to a news outlet for information that you have received?
AC Yates: No, that is an amazing question, and I have never, ever, ever received any payment of that sort.
Q418 Lorraine Fullbrook: Have any of your officers received payment that you know of in the last 10 years?
AC Yates: I think it’s highly probable, in the light of the allegations that are surfacing and are being investigated,-so we have to be very careful what we say-that that has happened. We are an organisation of 50,000 people. We have always said from time immemorial that some of those 50,000 people will be corrupt and accept payments. There is an ongoing investigation that Sue is overseeing, which we don’t need to comment on now.
Q419 Dr Huppert: Assistant Commissioner, were you aware of or involved in any discussions with the Met media service or anyone else where there were concerns about upsetting or alienating News International, News of the World or any other outlet?
AC Yates: Never.
Q420 Dr Huppert: And we will never find any record of such discussions in the Met Police?
AC Yates: You will never find any record of such discussions.
Q421 Nicola Blackwood: Given your statement that there are corrupt police officers within the Met and that you don’t know who they are and that one of the major casualties of this scandal will be public confidence in the Met and police more widely, do you think that vetting procedures need to be improved significantly?
AC Yates: The Met has invested an awful lot of time and effort in its anti-corruption strategies and has done so since 1996 and I have been involved with them. So there is a very significant investment in that. Part of that is around vetting for sensitive posts. We will always accept that we can learn from different investigations and if there is corruption in the Met, as I have said is likely-I haven’t pointed a finger at anybody, as I said is likely in an organisation of this size-then of course we will investigate properly to ensure they are properly brought to book. If vetting becomes an issue around that in sensitive posts then of course that is something we will review.
Q422 Nicola Blackwood: What action are you going to be taking to try and restore public trust in the police?
AC Yates: I think regrets are always a good start.
Q423 Mr Clappison: You were the person who was brought in to do the review on this. You were not the initial investigating officer but looking at the scale of the wrongdoing that has been revealed and the spread of it and the Stasi-like approach that has been taken in some quarters, how do you think the public should feel about this?
AC Yates: I think they should be feeling extremely reassured that the Met has invested now in a new investigation.
Q424 Dr Huppert: Reassured?
AC Yates: In terms of how they should be feeling now, was the question, they should be reassured that a new investigation and a different command structure with significant resources attached to is following the evidence, as they have now received from News International. I can’t repeat that often enough.
Q425 Mr Winnick: While I believe, Mr Yates, that you were wrong as regards the relationship with News International socially, can I just put on record I don’t myself believe for one moment that you received any payment from that organisation. Last night Bob Milton, one of your former colleagues, a Metropolitan Police Commissioner, described you as a very, very competent officer and then he went on to say, when he was being questioned about your position, "He’ll have to make his own decision on whether he feels his position is untenable." You replied to the Chair a few moments ago. Do you really feel, Mr Yates-and you are an honest man, and I believe you are an honest man-that you can continue in your position, and-
AC Yates: Yes, I believe I can.
Mr Winnick: -in view of all that has happened, that there is confidence in you not only from the Met but from the public?
AC Yates: As I said earlier, I passionately believe in doing the right thing and the right thing in this case was to hold up my hands around the regret I feel, I do feel that, about the way those affected were handled under my watch. That does not, in my view, make it a resignation matter in this case.
Q426 Mark Reckless: I note that the DPP who was consulted about the initial advice provided to the Met is now instructed by News International.
Chair: Lord Macdonald, the previous DPP.
Mark Reckless: On reflection, what share of responsibility do you think should be borne by the CPS for failing to fully investigate this issue at the time?
AC Yates: I think there is some collective responsibility because, as I have always said, and I will say it again, I know it is a matter of difficulties for others but this investigation is going to talk about it, it was framed on the legal advice. So there is some collective responsibility. Operational decisions, though, are for us and for the police alone, so we have to stand up and be counted around that, but the prosecution case is a collective responsibility.
Q427 Steve McCabe: You said that the question of Rebekah Brooks’ future is a matter for her conscience. How is your conscience?
AC Yates: My conscience is clear in terms of I have accepted in those areas where we could have done better. So my conscience is clear in the sense that I have expressed regrets for that, and if you can’t be allowed to express regrets and make some mistakes occasionally during the course of your career, that is a pretty sad state of affairs.
Q428 Bridget Phillipson: With hindsight, do you think it was a mistake to talk about there being very few victims of hacking and a handful of people, given that you accept you didn’t carry out the review?
AC Yates: It goes back to the legal advice in terms of what we could prove and it is a really dull semantic point, understood by those that take a very close interest in it, but that is why I framed the response in that way.
Q429 Bridget Phillipson: Coming away from the semantics, do you think it was right to be so clear and so categorical when you couldn’t possibly have known because you hadn’t reviewed all of the evidence?
AC Yates: Well, as I say, I just went with the legal advice.
Q430 Chair: Your comment on the previous inquiry is what? If you thought your inquiry was poor, what about the previous inquiry? We will be hearing from witnesses shortly.
AC Yates: I think that is a matter for Peter to answer. All I would say is I can understand how an inquiry is shaped to make it manageable in the context of what was happening at the time.
Q431 Chair: But you have no views as to whether it was good, poor, thorough?
AC Yates: I think that is a matter for Peter to answer.
Q432 Chair: In terms of the victims, since the last time you were here, and specifically concerning Mr Bryant, have all the victims, as far as you are aware, been contacted?
AC Yates: The whole victim strategy is a matter for the new team, so I can’t answer that.
Q433 Chair: In respect of the evidence you gave us last time, you talked about the mobile phone companies being contacted. I am not sure whether you are aware they came to give evidence to us and they told us in fact they had received no instructions from the Metropolitan Police about that-not about the current operation, but when you were conducting it.
AC Yates: There is a range of correspondence between ourselves and the phone companies, which in retrospect may not have been followed through in the way it should have been, but certainly I know one company absolutely followed the instructions to the letter and others didn’t, so again it is a matter that needs to be reviewed.
Q434 Chair: Mr Yates, as usual we are most grateful. Whenever we ask you to come and give evidence you do turn up and give evidence. However, I think it is the view of the Committee that your evidence today is unconvincing, and there are more questions to be asked about what happened when you conducted this review. So you may well be hearing from us again. Please do not regard this as an end of the matter, but we are very grateful that you have come today.
If I could summarise. Your apology is to the victims, to the family of Milly Dowler and to all the other victims. Your apology is to this Committee and your apology is for any perceived damage there is to the Metropolitan Police. Is that right?
AC Yates: That is right.
Chair: Thank you for coming. Could I call Mr Peter Clarke?
Examination of Witness
Witness: Mr Peter Clarke, Former Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, gave evidence.
Q435 Chair: Mr Clarke, thank you very much. My apologies to you for keeping you waiting half an hour, but you had the benefit of sitting within the Committee confines so you heard what was being said. Could you just explain to us your role in the investigation prior to the investigation that was done by Mr Yates?
Mr Clarke: Thank you, Chairman. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be here today. This is, of course, the first time that anyone, I believe, involved in the original investigation has had the opportunity to meet with the Committee, and indeed it is certainly the first time that I have had the opportunity to publicly express any of these issues.
Q436 Chair: Can I thank you for responding so readily to my invitation. Unlike other witnesses, you readily said you would come and give evidence, and I am most grateful.
Mr Clarke: I am, of course, to a large extent relying upon memory of events from five or six years ago and, of course, I did leave the police some three and a half years ago. If it would help the Committee, I could make some opening remarks to set out my role and indeed many of the issues that I know the Committee is interested to hear.
Q437 Chair: I think the Committee are appraised of this, but if you could just tell me in answer, rather than reading out a statement, what was your role and when did it begin and when did it end?
Mr Clarke: My role in this particular investigation began in December 2005 when I was the head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police and also carried out the role of National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations, which meant that I was responsible for leading the investigation of terrorist offences in the UK and against British interests overseas. I was approached in December 2005 by the head of the Royalty Protection Department.
Q438 Chair: Who is-
Mr Clarke: Commander Peter Loughborough, and still is. He said that members of the Royal Household had expressed concerns that matters were finding their way into the press. They were trying to work out how this had happened and one of the concerns was maybe that somehow voicemails were being accessed. Obviously to my mind that immediately posed some issues around potential security of members of the royal family. It could, for instance, be people trying to ascertain their movements and so, because of the sensitivity and the obvious national security implications, I said that my department, the Anti-Terrorist Branch, would take on this investigation.
Q439 Chair: What was your relationship at that point to Andy Hayman? Where did he fit into the overall investigation? Was it your investigation? Were you the top man?
Mr Clarke: In essence, yes. Obviously, ultimately the Commissioner is responsible for everything that happens in the Metropolitan Police.
Q440 Chair: Yes, we have heard from the previous Commissioner. Tell us about your role.
Mr Clarke: There are many layers in the police service. My role as head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch was to set the strategy for this investigation and to set its parameters. Andy Hayman was, if you like, my boss. He was the Assistant Commissioner. I was the Deputy Assistant Commissioner.
Q441 Chair: Yes. How often would you report back to him about the things that you were doing?
Mr Clarke: We would meet on a daily basis, talking about a whole range of things, most of them obviously connected to the terrorist threat and what was going on with that in the UK.
Q442 Chair: If we could leave the terrorist threat aside and concentrate on this issue, which you had conduct for. You have heard the evidence of Assistant Commissioner Yates, and you have heard the concern of this Committee, and indeed you have been reading the newspapers, I am sure. We can’t understand how an investigation conducted by the Metropolitan Police did not look at the files and the paperwork that would have revealed the names of individual people, including former Prime Ministers, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, Members of Parliament, members of the royal family, and including John Yates, Andy Hayman and, I understand, yourself. Were you one of the people being hacked?
Mr Clarke: I am sorry, sir, this is news to me.
Q443 Chair: Fine. We are just clearing you out of the picture.
Mr Clarke: Is there a picture that I am part of this? I am sorry, I am not aware of that.
Q444 Chair: Okay, fine. You are not one of the people. That is very helpful. But Mr Hayman certainly was on the list?
Mr Clarke: Not to my knowledge.
Q445 Chair: Not to your knowledge. Have you seen the list that has been produced that Operation Weeting has been involved in?
Mr Clarke: No, I haven’t.
Q446 Chair: You have not? I will make sure that you get it. You have heard evidence from Assistant Commissioner Yates that he thought he was being hacked. Is that the first time you have heard this?
Mr Clarke: I think it is the first time I have heard it. I don’t recall any previous reference to John Yates being hacked. I may have read it in the newspapers, I don’t know.
Q447 Chair: Going back to the totality of it, you may not know about individual people but you had in your files a number of names. Is that right?
Mr Clarke: Not at the beginning of this investigation, no. Those names came in obviously in due course after the arrests and searches in August 2006.
Q448 Chair: But you have heard the concern of the Committee that what should have happened in that very first investigation is that all those names should have been thoroughly investigated and all circumstances should have been looked at so you were not in the position where Mr Yates had to do his review and subsequently to see this industrial scale of the number of victims of hacking. Are you amazed that all these names have come forward or not?
Mr Clarke: I am probably not amazed. I am not surprised by anything that certain parts of the media indulge in and we are learning things day by day. There is a process that I had hoped to describe in my opening statement to you that took us from the point of the original notification to me from Commander Loughborough through to the point of arrest and then subsequent action, which describes how the parameters were reached of the first investigation, which was strictly to investigate who it was who was potentially hacking into the voicemails of people in the Royal Household and how the decision was reached after the arrests not to conduct an exhaustive analysis of the huge amount of material.
Q449 Chair: That would be very helpful, but just concentrating for one moment on the evidence we have received from Mr Yates, who of course has said his review of the evidence in 2009 was poor. Do you, as a result of what you have seen in the newspapers-I thought I heard you say in answer to my question that maybe this is what the media indulge in. Are you questioning these emails and questioning the information that has come out in the media? Do you think that this information is wrong or have you accepted that people like Gordon Brown and others have had their phones hacked?
Mr Clarke: I have absolutely no idea whether they have had their phones-I am not in the police any more; I am not involved in the current investigation.
Q450 Chair: No, I understand that. So you are a member of the public, you are completely shocked. Unlike Mr Yates who was absolutely shocked and in hindsight thinks his inquiry was not good, you are very satisfied with the inquiry that you conducted?
Mr Clarke: No, I didn’t say that. I haven’t said that at all. I think I share the shock of almost everybody at some of the depths to which the media seem to have sunk in some of the activities that we have learned about. If we take the Milly Dowler case, for instance, I only learned about that last week. Like every decent person, I am sure, I am utterly appalled by that. I hope that almost goes without saying.
Q451 Chair: Do you agree with the statement made by Mr Yates? When you tried to get information from News International, because we all understand what is in the public domain at the moment arose as a result of emails handed over from News International, were they co-operative with you when you were conducting the inquiry? Mr Yates is very clear they were not co-operative with him.
Mr Clarke: News International were not co-operative at the time. If there had been any meaningful co-operation at the time we would not be here today. It is as simple as that.
Q452 Chair: Thank you. Would you like to tell us the timeline that you were keen to share with us and then other members will ask you questions?
Mr Clarke: Do you want me to read parts of it or to try to memorise it? My only caveat is, of course, this is quite a long time ago. If I rely on memory-
Chair: It depends on how many pages you have, Mr Clarke.
Mr Clarke: If I say something that subsequently turns out to be not absolutely right and I am relying on memory, then of course I would not want to be accused of intentionally misleading this Committee.
Q453 Chair: Of course, and I wouldn’t want you to be in that position, but if you would just tell me how many pages do you have there?
Mr Clarke: Two.
Q454 Chair: Right. Read fast.
Mr Clarke: I shall read very fast. I have covered already the fact that I was approached in December 2005 and began the investigation into the possible hacking in the Royal Household. Mobile phone companies were approached and as the inquiry progressed it became apparent that voicemails in the Royal Household were indeed being intercepted in a previously unknown way. Access to the voicemails was being gained from the telephones of Clive Goodman, the royal editor of the News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator.
Legal advice was sought from the Crown Prosecution Service in the person of the head of the Special Crime Division. So far as was known, the legislation was untested in being applied to the kind of activity uncovered by our investigation. The advice stated that they were potentially offences under section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act. The latter was a summary only offence with limited powers of punishment and there were uncertainties as to how the specifics required to prove the case might arise from the facts as presented in this case. The RIPA offence was triable on indictment with greater powers of punishment. We were advised that the offence could certainly be proved if the interception occurred before the intended recipient had accessed the message but beyond that the area was very much untested.
The parameters of the investigation, which I set with my colleagues, were very clear. They were to investigate the unauthorised interception of voicemails in the Royal Household, to prosecute those responsible if possible and to take all necessary steps to prevent this type of abuse of the telephone system in the future. The investigation would also attempt to find who else, other than Goodman and Mulcaire, was responsible for the interceptions. The reason I decided the parameters should be so tightly drawn was that a much wider investigation would inevitably take much longer to complete. This would carry, to my mind, two unacceptable risks. First, the investigation would be compromised and evidence lost and, second, that the much wider range of people, who we were learning were becoming victims of this activity, would continue to be victimised while the investigation took its course. This would probably go on for many months and to my mind this would be unacceptable.
After Goodman and Mulcaire were arrested and following consultation with the CPS, we entered into correspondence with BCL Burton Copeland Solicitors, acting for News Group Newspapers Ltd. We asked for a huge amount of material in connection with Mulcaire’s dealings with the News of the World, including details of who he reported to, whether he had worked for other editors or journalists at the News of the World, records of work provided by him, details of the telephone systems in the News of the World offices and much else besides. On 7 September 2006 a letter to Burton Copeland from the Metropolitan Police specifically stated the investigation is attempting to identify all persons that may be involved, including any fellow conspirators. We were assured by the solicitors that News Group Newspapers wished to assist our investigation, that we were in possession of all relevant documentation but that the material to which we were entitled was limited. In reality very little material was produced. Therefore, while we were able to prosecute the specific offences under investigation, we were unable to spread the inquiry further with News International because of their refusal to co-operate more broadly. I know you have heard conversations about the legal issues here.
Following the arrest of Goodman and Mulcaire, a large amount of material in both paper and electronic formats was seized. I have been told that it amounted to some 11,000 pages. As News International were clearly not going to offer any co-operation, the only avenue into a wider investigation would have been through that material. We considered whether there should be an exhaustive analysis of this material and decided against it for the following reasons.
Q455 Chair: "We" being-
Mr Clarke: Me and my senior colleagues within the Anti-Terrorist Branch.
Q456 Chair: Including Mr Hayman?
Mr Clarke: The process was, I would brief Andy Hayman as to how the inquiry was going.
Q457 Chair: Who were these other people you were talking to?
Mr Clarke: Again, a hierarchical structure. I had a commander, Commander McDowell, Detective Chief Superintendent Tim White, and a range of other colleagues who were conducting the-
Q458 Chair: Okay, thank you. Proceed.
Mr Clarke: First, given the wider context of counterterrorist operations against actions that posed an immediate threat to the British public, when set against the criminal course of conduct that involved gross breaches of privacy but no apparent threat of physical harm to the public, I could not justify the huge expenditure of resources this would entail over an inevitably protracted period. Instead, a team of officers were detailed to examine the documents for any further evidence and to identify potential victims where there might be security concerns. The second reason why we decided not to do a full analysis of all the material was that the original objectives of the investigation could be achieved through the following measures. First of all, the high-profile prosecution and imprisonment of a senior journalist from a national newspaper for these offences. Secondly, collaboration with the mobile phone industry to prevent such invasions of privacy in the future. Thirdly, briefings to Government, including the Home Office and Cabinet Office, designed to alert them to this activity and to ensure that national security concerns could be addressed. There was also, of course, at the time liaison with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
In addition, there had been very close co-operation between my officers and the mobile phone industry throughout the investigation. After the arrests, a strategy for informing victims was put in place, which involved police officers informing certain categories of potential victim and the mobile phone companies identifying and informing others to see if they wanted to contact the police. I have since learned that this strategy did not work as intended.
Q459 Chair: Indeed, as the Committee has learned.
Mr Clarke: Indeed, and as John Yates has indicated, that is a matter, of course, of profound regret. It is also, of course, utterly regrettable that as a result of the decision not to conduct a detailed analysis of all the material seized, a category of victim that I had no idea were the targets of the hackers did not receive the support that they deserved sooner. I refer there, of course, to the victims of crime.
Finally, any account of the investigation would not be complete without reference to the counterterrorist context at the time. Since 2002 there had been a steady rise in the number and lethality of terrorist plots against the UK. London had, of course, been attacked twice in 2005 and this had given rise to the largest criminal investigation ever carried out in the UK. By early 2006 we were investigating the plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners in midflight and those responsible were arrested on 9 August 2006, the day after Goodman and Mulcaire. By the middle of 2006 the Anti-Terrorist Branch had more than 70 live operations relating to terrorist plots but the reality was that some of these were not being investigated because we didn’t have the staff to do so.
I have been asked whether we could have returned to the unassessed material in the months after Goodman and Mulcaire’s arrests. The answer quite simply is no. By December we were embroiled in the Litvinenko murder in London, and a few months later the attacks in Haymarket and Glasgow. Meanwhile, we had to service all the court cases that had been coming through the process for some years that in 2007 led to the conviction of dozens of people for terrorist-related crimes. Neither would it have been feasible to ask other departments to undertake the task using their own scarce resources in a case where there had already been convictions and there was no certainty of obtaining convictions for serious offences, given the untested nature of the legislation in these circumstances.
I can no longer speak for the Metropolitan Police, of course, but I am confident in saying that I know the officers who were involved in the 2006 investigation are looking forward to the opportunity to set out in detail to the forthcoming judge-led inquiry, in a calm forensic environment, the integrity, objectivity and no little skill with which they went about their duties in 2006. I reiterate, if at any time News International had offered some meaningful co-operation instead of prevarication and what we now know to be lies we would not be here today. I hope that helps.
Q460 Chair: I am sure colleagues will have questions for you. Can I just ask, did you at any stage think of issuing a press statement or a release to the media saying that News International were not co-operating?
Mr Clarke: At what stage?
Chair: At any stage.
Mr Clarke: Certainly I couldn’t possibly do that in advance of the court case coming to fruition in 2007.
Q461 Chair: But after it was concluded?
Mr Clarke: I don’t think I did, no.
Q462 Chair: The regret that you have expressed in your very helpful statement today is to whom? To whom are you regretting? Are you apologising to the victims? Are you just saying you regret that the strategy was not carried out? Who is the regret directed to?
Mr Clarke: The primary focus has to be the victims of crime. It always is. In this case, because the victim strategy that we put in place in the last week of August 2006 hadn’t operated as intended, clearly there are people who have found that they have been the victims of hacking who deserved to know sooner, but obviously most importantly it is the victims of crime who have found some of the most distressing things about what has been happening to their private lives and invasion of their privacy in the past.
Q463 Chair: Thanks. Finally, for the record, you have had no hospitality given to you or any connection whatsoever with News International?
Mr Clarke: No. During my time serving in the Metropolitan Police there were occasionally, organised by the Directorate of Public Affairs, meetings with the Crime Reporters Association, which reaches right across the British media of course, print and broadcast, and there were occasions certainly on which I would meet groups of reporters, usually either perhaps one week the broadcast media, another time the broadsheet.
Q464 Chair: But not specifically private dinners with News International?
Mr Clarke: No, absolutely not.
Q465 Mr Clappison: Mr Clarke, you have been a very distinguished senior officer, particularly in the field of counterterrorism, but I have to say I find your evidence today hard to accept, particularly on what you have told us about the parameters that were set for this inquiry, which perhaps might explain one or two things. In the normal course of policing, if an offence is discovered and it is discovered that there has been further offending associated with that offence, the police normally investigate the further offending, don’t they? If, for example, you stop somebody for driving while disqualified and you find they have been committing burglaries, you would investigate the burglaries as well, wouldn’t you?
Mr Clarke: With respect, this is not about driving while disqualified or burglaries. This is an entirely different category. The only thing you could possibly align this to would be an enormous fraud where you focus the investigation at an early stage, you decide what the potential offences might be and then you focus on trying to prove those offences, and you do put parameters around investigations. It is a completely normal investigative process and in this case, if I may, the first indication was that there was something within the Royal Household and I said that is what we will investigate.
Q466 Mr Clappison: Did you suspect that there was other offending taking place in the News of the World newsroom involving other journalists?
Mr Clarke: Yes, which is why we pursued it as far as we could through the correspondence with the News of the World lawyers.
Q467 Mr Clappison: You have told us that one of the reasons why you didn’t choose to investigate further and set these parameters was that you were concerned that victims would continue to be victimised if the offences were investigated.
Mr Clarke: Yes. What I was trying to say there was that if we had tried to mount an investigation into every potential victim, which was beginning to emerge from our work with the phone companies, that could have taken months, or potentially even years, to bring it to the point where we would go to the Crown Prosecution with a file.
Q468 Mr Clappison: Do you think it is more or less likely that a victim would be victimised if the police investigate and find out who was doing the victimising?
Mr Clarke: I think, with respect, sir, you are missing the point here.
Mr Clappison: Well, I hope so.
Mr Clarke: We did not know the full scope of how many people were being victimised. It was clearly wider than just the initial parameters of the investigation. If we were to try to conduct a full investigation to find out the full breadth of this, this would take potentially months. We couldn’t possibly start going to victims in advance of an arrest phase because clearly that would become public knowledge sooner or later, particularly bearing in mind the nature of some of the victims. If we had done that and it had become public knowledge, clearly those who were responsible could well have lost or destroyed evidence. So what I am trying to say to you here is that if we had let this run on for months the completely unacceptable breach of individuals’ privacy would have continued and to my mind that was just simply not the right thing to do.
Q469 Mr Clappison: We can all have the benefit of hindsight but I think with the benefit of what has emerged since that was a catastrophic decision that you took, wasn’t it? It has allowed this network of spying and corruption to continue untouched.
Mr Clarke: I have to disagree with that because, as I said, the original objectives were to-
Q470 Chair: You disagree with Mr Clappison’s assertion that if you had done this earlier we would not have had this continuing?
Mr Clarke: I have to disagree that the web of spying and corruption has continued untouched. The evil we were trying to investigate and then to stop was the illicit access to people’s voicemails. So far as I am aware, by and large after 2006, and it may be completely since 2006 because of our work with the mobile phone companies in getting the protective security arrangements around voicemails changed, voicemail hacking no longer continues.
Q471 Chair: I have to tell you, Mr Clarke, when the mobile phone companies came to give evidence to us they were very critical of the Metropolitan Police. They were basically waiting to inform the victims and you never told them to inform the victims.
Mr Clarke: We are talking about two different things here, sir. If we are talking about the protective measures put in to try to stop the voicemail hacking then I believe that that was entirely successful.
Q472 Chair: In respect of your inquiry and to the victims of what has happened.
Mr Clarke: I have already conceded that the victim strategy did not work as intended and that is, of course, a matter of great regret.
Q473 Mr Clappison: You have told us that you decided not to undertake an exhaustive analysis of the material that was first seized in the inquiry from the limited search that took place of Mr Mulcaire. Does that mean it wasn’t read?
Mr Clarke: No. A team of officers were detailed to go through that material with a range of objectives. One, of course, was to look for evidence relevant to the offences that had been charged. The second objective is, of course, to make sure that our obligations in terms of disclosure under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act are fulfilled. That is done, first by police officers and then as was done by counsel. Then third, to look for potential victims where there were national security implications.
Q474 Mr Clappison: So all the material was read?
Mr Clarke: I can’t say whether all the material was read. It was a manual search, because at that time we didn’t have the technical-I can’t be absolutely certain.
Q475 Chair: You don’t know?
Mr Clarke: I wasn’t there looking over people’s shoulders.
Q476 Mr Clappison: Did you ask people to look through all the material?
Chair: I thought you were running the inquiry.
Mr Clarke: Yes, I was running the inquiry.
Q477 Chair: The question Mr Clappison asked is surely a no-brainer. Wouldn’t you ask your team, "Have you read all the documents?" before you closed your files?
Mr Clarke: Not necessarily, no. The team was tasked to look with particular objectives in mind, not to do an exhaustive analysis of every name, phone number and so and on and so forth.
Q478 Chair: Even though some of those names were very important people?
Mr Clarke: Those people were notified, those who immediately jumped out of the page.
Chair: Mr Clappison will come back to you, unless this is the final question.
Q479 Mr Clappison: It is the question that I was putting to the previous witness that I think should really be put to you. In that study of the material, did you find the names of other people who had been the victims of hacking and other journalists who were involved in the hacking, apart from those who were subsequently on the indictment? Did they include, for example, the victims of crime, which you told us about? Did you find victims of crime had been subject to hacking, or anybody?
Mr Clarke: I was certainly not aware of any of the victims of crime that have been publicised in the last week.
Q480 Mr Clappison: Other names who had been the victims of hacking, other people, other individuals?
Mr Clarke: There were other people for whom there were indications that they probably had been. We could only tell if somebody had been the victim of hacking from the technical data from the mobile phone companies. If they told us that somebody’s voicemail had been accessed by Goodman or Mulcaire, then they were informed.
Q481 Chair: So the answer is yes, you did find other names of people?
Mr Clarke: Yes.
Q482 Bridget Phillipson: You have compared this issue to fraud. If, when dealing with a complex case such as fraud, you were faced with a business or an individual showing unwillingness to co-operate would that not make you somewhat suspicious that they perhaps had something to hide rather than to accept that you simply couldn’t pursue it any further?
Mr Clarke: I was not only suspicious, I was as certain as I could be that they had something to hide.
Q483 Bridget Phillipson: What prevented you from taking that further?
Mr Clarke: The law.
Q484 Bridget Phillipson: In what sense?
Mr Clarke: I think it has been explained many times before this Committee that there was correspondence entered into between us and News International. The letters that were sent from the Metropolitan Police were put together in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service. The replies came back through the lawyers acting on behalf of News International and I know that the people, both from the CPS and from the Met, at the time who were looking at this were very frustrated at finding themselves in what they regarded as a legal impasse.
Q485 Bridget Phillipson: But had the material been subject to exhaustive analysis there may have been further grounds to pursue?
Mr Clarke: As I have said, given the complete lack of co-operation from News International, the only way to get into this would have been to do an exhaustive analysis of all that material. I have already explained that, because of the range of other life-threatening activity that was going on at the time in terms of terrorist offences, I took the decision that this didn’t justify it.
Q486 Bridget Phillipson: It is just disappointing that for whatever reason-I am sure you can appreciate-the unwillingness of potential criminals to co-operate with a criminal investigation meant that prosecutions didn’t happen.
Mr Clarke: I know it sounds a slightly sort of banal point; would you expect criminals to co-operate with the police? No, of course you don’t, but this is slightly different, and I don’t mean to be flippant here, from someone taking the lead off the church roof. This is a global organisation with access to the best legal advice, in my view deliberately trying to thwart a criminal investigation.
Q487 Mark Reckless: Do you believe that BCL Copeland, as well as News International, may have a case to answer in respect of what they wrote on behalf of their clients?
Mr Clarke: I couldn’t possibly say. I am sure they were acting on instructions.
Q488 Mark Reckless: Couldn’t you have looked through this 11,000 pages of material, not necessarily completely but at least enough to see if the names of any News International journalists were there, such that you could then have forced them to give you more material?
Mr Clarke: I am sorry, I am trying to take your point, sir. Could you repeat that, please?
Q489 Mark Reckless: Surely you could have looked, skimmed even, this 11,000 pages to see if there were the names of any other News International journalists and then use that information to force News International to open up.
Mr Clarke: It’s possible. I am not sure that skimming 11,000 pages is an exercise that could be undertaken.
Q490 Mark Reckless: Why didn’t you notify Mr Bryant that his phone had been hacked?
Mr Clarke: To the best of my knowledge I didn’t know Mr Bryant’s phone had been hacked.
Q491 Mark Reckless: Why didn’t you do anything when it emerged that Gordon Taylor, nothing to do with the royal correspondent, had been given a payoff by News International?
Mr Clarke: Because by then I had retired from the police service.
Mark Reckless: Fair enough.
Q492 Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr Clarke, in evidence you gave to Mr Clappison and Mr Reckless you said that you didn’t have an exhaustive search of the evidence. Why didn’t you do an exhaustive search of a sample of the evidence and then you would have seen the iceberg underneath what you were dealing with?
Mr Clarke: I am just trying to reflect on that.
Chair: Well, it is a simple question.
Mr Clarke: It is a simple question and there is no simple answer, because it is inviting me to consider why I didn’t do part of a job. I suppose I took the view you either do the job properly or you don’t do it at all.
Q493 Lorraine Fullbrook: But you didn’t do the job properly.
Mr Clarke: Well, I consider that the decision taken at the time was perfectly reasonable, and I had to weigh up the conflicting priorities of counterterrorism and invasion of privacy. I made the decision and, as others have said recently, I stand by that decision and people can make their judgments.
Q494 Lorraine Fullbrook: Do you think you would have done the job better had you done an exhaustive search of a sample of the evidence that you had?
Mr Clarke: It may or may not have made any difference at all. I can’t say. It’s pure speculation.
Q495 Michael Ellis: You say, Mr Clarke, that the law effectively stopped you because you, Scotland Yard, were up against an international, global organisation. The law doesn’t allow fishing expeditions, but what the law does allow and what the law would have done to support you, as in the Yard, would have been, if you had obtained sufficient evidence to justify a reasonable suspicion, you would have been able to obtain access, and no amount of high-paid lawyers would have been able to stop you. So the question is, there were 11,000 pages sitting there that were not properly reviewed. I suggest they could have been reviewed, should have been reviewed and would have disclosed evidence that would have allowed the police to obtain legal access to News International and maybe others.
Mr Clarke: If I may, sir, there is a degree of speculation at the end of your question. I have already explained the reason why I made the decision not to have them reviewed at the time.
Q496 Michael Ellis: But if I may, Mr Clarke, we are dealing here with, according to the Guardian, members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales, Prince Harry, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall. You were tasked with royalty protection, were you not, ultimately, and this is a matter relating to royal protection, as far you knew it at the time of your investigation. It wasn’t a routine investigation. Wouldn’t it have been an obvious thing to do to investigate the matter fully?
Mr Clarke: Sorry, you said, sir, that I was tasked with royalty protection ultimately.
Q497 Michael Ellis: I thought you told the Committee that you were originally tasked to investigate this matter because you had oversight over royal matters.
Mr Clarke: I understand you now. I thought you were referring to the fact that I was commander of the Royalty Protection Department back in the 1990s.
Q498 Michael Ellis: No, but you had responsibility over royalty protection, did you, or did you not?
Mr Clarke: No, not in 2006.
Q499 Chair: Anyway, whatever your responsibility was, should you not have done the search that Mr Ellis has suggested?
Michael Ellis: Would it not have disclosed further information that would have then given you legal grounds to obtain access?
Mr Clarke: I don’t know whether it would have revealed further information to give me legal grounds because we didn’t carry out the exercise.
Q500 Chair: Indeed. During your investigation, did you at any time speak to the DPP?
Mr Clarke: No, I didn’t.
Q501 Chair: So you had no contact with Lord Macdonald, or Sir Ken Macdonald as he then was?
Mr Clarke: No.
Q502 Chair: Who in your team sought the legal advice that was necessary for you to continue?
Mr Clarke: The legal advice was sought by the senior investigating officer, working with the head of the Special Casework Division.
Chair: Who was that?
Mr Clarke: That would have been either Detective Chief Superintendent Williams or Detective Superintendent Surtees.
Q503 Chair: Do you know for a fact that they did consult the DPP?
Mr Clarke: I know they consulted with the Crown Prosecution Service. I doubt the DPP was personally involved. I don’t know.
Chair: We have a letter from the DPP saying he had oversight of it.
Mr Clarke: In the same way that lots of people have oversight.
Q504 Dr Huppert: If I can say, Mr Clarke, I think you have been very straight with this Committee, and it is always nice to hear that. I think the error that was made was drawing the boundaries far too narrow to start with, too much of a focus on royal and high security, and I suspect you would agree that with hindsight it could have been broader. Certainly had I realised how big this was when I wrote to the Chairman of this Committee last year suggesting we look at this and we might have been able to do even more work.
Chair: And we have put on record we are very grateful you did.
Dr Huppert: Thank you, Chairman. My question is that, during 2006, the Information Commissioner laid not just one but two command papers to the House of Commons, to Parliament, What price privacy?, which I think Nicola Blackwood referred to earlier, and What price privacy now? a six-month follow-up, highlighting that, from his perspective at least, this was a major issue. In that it talks about finding that 305 journalists were identified during Operation Motorman as customers driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information. It goes on in the follow-up report-
Chair: Please don’t read it all out. Just ask your question.
Dr Huppert: I won’t, Chairman. It goes on to detail a huge range of newspapers. In fact the Daily Mail is at the top; News of the World is only fifth on the list. Did that not spark any alarms that you had evidence of trade in personal information. You knew this was a high priority for the Information Commissioner. Did that not then make you think, "Should we link these together?"
Mr Clarke: I have to confess that in 2006 I was not aware of those reports. I suppose my focus was on terrorist issues.
Q505 Dr Huppert: Should somebody else within the Met have been aware of them and put two and two together?
Mr Clarke: I think someone else probably was aware of them-
Dr Huppert: But didn’t put two and two together?
Mr Clarke: -but clearly two and two were not put together, if they were there to be put together.
Q506 Mr Winnick: Was there a feeling at the most senior level of the Met, Mr Clarke, that it wouldn’t be wise to make an enemy of News International?
Mr Clarke: No, I just can’t agree with that, Mr Winnick.
Q507 Mr Winnick: Are you really saying that which you have already described as a huge global organisation, with all its media outlets and what it can do, made absolutely no difference whatsoever?
Mr Clarke: If there had been any feeling of the kind that you describe, Mr Winnick, I think it unlikely that my officers would have gone unannounced to the News International building and faced the sort of hostility and obstruction that they did when they went to conduct the search on the day of the arrests.
Chair: Sorry, could you speak up, Mr Clarke?
Mr Clarke: Yes, sorry.
Q508 Mr Winnick: But surely that hostility and obstruction, which surprises no one, even less now, if anything that would be a discouragement to probe further, knowing the dogs of war could be used without hesitation.
Mr Clarke: I understand what you are saying, Mr Winnick, but perhaps I am arrogant enough to think that I had a reputation as a fairly dogged investigator, and hostility and obstruction might make me more determined rather than less.
Q509 Mr Winnick: One more question, Mr Clarke. You said that, understandably, no criticism, you socialised, if that is the right word, with crime reporters. No one would have expected otherwise. That seems to be perfectly above board, but you didn’t have any socialising with the most senior people in News International. Would that be true of other colleagues, senior colleagues?
Mr Clarke: I can’t speak for what they did.
Q510 Mr Winnick: You weren’t aware one way or another?
Mr Clarke: No, absolutely not.
Q511 Nicola Blackwood: Mr Clarke, I think it would be helpful to understand the scale of your investigation and exactly where it ranked in your day-to-day work. Was this investigation the only investigation that you were conducting at the time?
Mr Clarke: No. I think I’ve explained, under my oversight there were some 70 investigations within the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch and across the country as well.
Q512 Nicola Blackwood: Where would you say it ranked in terms of priority?
Mr Clarke: You can’t place a rank on it.
Nicola Blackwood: Well, just give us an assessment: bottom third, top third?
Mr Clarke: I couldn’t list. What I could say is that it certainly would not compete with any other investigation where there is a threat to the safety of the public.
Q513 Nicola Blackwood: How many officers were assigned to the investigation?
Mr Clarke: It varied according to what stage the investigation was at.
Chair: On average.
Mr Clarke: There is no such thing, I’m afraid. I am not being awkward, Mr Vaz, but there is no such thing.
Q514 Nicola Blackwood: At the beginning of the investigation?
Mr Clarke: At the beginning of the investigation, partly because of the sensitivity of it and partly because it was a very focused investigation, we kept it very tight and I would say perhaps there were 10 to a dozen. Then when it came to the arrests and searches, we borrowed officers from other parts, from Specialist Crime Directorate, and on the day of the searches and the arrests there were probably as many as 60 involved in it.
Q515 Nicola Blackwood: So about 10 to 11 officers working exclusively on the case and supplemented by additional officers at various times?
Mr Clarke: And other means of support such as analysts, intelligence officers, document readers.
Q516 Nicola Blackwood: What was the duration of that investigation from beginning to end?
Mr Clarke: The beginning would be December 2005 until the conviction of Goodman and Mulcaire, which I believe was in January 2007.
Q517 Nicola Blackwood: Do you feel that the message that you were getting from the command structure was that you should not be prioritising this investigation, particularly in the context of all the other terror-related activities you were involved in?
Mr Clarke: No, absolutely not. It was my decision.
Q518 Steve McCabe: Mr Clarke, I guess what troubles most of us is that this 11,000 pages of material now turns out to be a rich seam for any able-minded investigator. Was it the fact that your officers were asked to concentrate exclusively on looking for connections involving Goodman and Mulcaire and therefore to disregard any other connections they saw, or is there some technical way you can review the material only looking for Goodman and Mulcaire that would in some way screen out any other possible connections? I think that is what people don’t understand. They understand the pressures of time, the fact you had to make choices about narrowing, but we now know this was a minefield and somehow it escaped everyone’s attention.
Mr Clarke: Yes, absolutely. I think it is a mistake though, if I may say so, Mr McCabe, to think that we were focusing solely on Goodman and Mulcaire. We weren’t, and the correspondence that we entered into with News International makes that very clear. I read an extract from it this morning. We were looking to find any other conspirators as well. If the evidence had been forthcoming we would have followed it.
Q519 Steve McCabe: It must have been there. As Mr Ellis said, had you pursued the question of Gordon Taylor it would have been painfully obvious you should have interviewed another journalist. So it must have been there.
Mr Clarke: It was there in all the material, yes, but as I say we didn’t do an exhaustive analysis of that material at that time.
Q520 Steve McCabe: I am trying to figure out why that was. Were your officers supposed to disregard it when they saw someone else, or was there some process by which it was reviewed that meant they couldn’t see other people? I can’t figure out how if all these names are coming up an experienced police officer going through that material couldn’t have said, "Oh, there’s that name and again and again, and look it’s connected to this." I don’t understand that.
Mr Clarke: That is what was happening, and I think I am right in saying that in the initial stages about 28 people were informed that they had potentially been the victims of hacking as a result of the initial review of that. I agree, the analysis of the 11,000 pages was not comprehensive.
Chair: Yes, I think we have got that.
Q521 Alun Michael: In that context, I can understand, and you made a very clear statement about, what your priorities were in terms of combating terrorism and the lower order of putting the big administrative task out. Was any consideration given to stripping out the non-terrorism-related aspects of your command and putting these sorts of responsibilities, which could be seen as a distraction in those terms, to other parts of the Met, the Specialist Crime Directorate or whatever?
Mr Clarke: I suppose you could say that this type of investigation was never core business for the Anti-Terrorist Branch. It came to us because of the national security issues at the beginning.
Alun Michael: That is rather my point.
Mr Clarke: Having got to that point, forgive me, is the point then that could I have tried to pass the investigation to somebody else? I think the realistic point-and I certainly thought about this at the time and it is reflected in the decision logs from the time-is that for the previous two years I had already been stripping out other parts of the Metropolitan Police to support the Anti-Terrorist Branch in a whole series of anti-terrorist operations. A lot of other serious crime had gone uninvestigated to the extent it should have done because of the demands I was placing on them. I took the view that it would be completely unrealistic, given that we were heading towards a prosecution of Goodman and Mulcaire, to then go to another department and say, "We’ve got a prosecution running. We have a huge amount of material here that needs analysing. We don’t know, given the uncertainties of the legal advice, whether there will be further offences coming from this or not. Would you like to devote 50, 60, 70 officers for a protracted period to do this?" I took the judgment that that would be an unreasonable request and so I didn’t make it.
Q522 Alun Michael: In your answer, you have indicated that other aspects were stripped out of the command in order to give you the maximum resource for dealing with terrorism. With the obvious benefit of hindsight, might it not have been better to shift this activity as well?
Mr Clarke: I don’t honestly see where I could have shifted it to. It would have been more a case of trying to invite people, I think, to lend me more officers and, to be frank, I think I had tried their patience quite sufficiently over the past years. I don’t mean it to sound trite but it would have been a very difficult request to have made to colleagues.
Q523 Alun Michael: But it wasn’t pushed up the tree as a responsibility?
Mr Clarke: To be honest, there wasn’t much of a tree to push up above me. I know this is something I discussed not only with my own colleagues in the Anti-Terrorist Branch but of course with Andy Hayman as well.
Q524 Chair: Mr Clarke, you have been very helpful to the Committee in giving evidence today but, although we accept the integrity of the way in which you presented your evidence, we remain puzzled that at the time of the investigation this information was not properly analysed, for whatever reasons, whether it is resources or judgments that you made. You came right at the start with your regret that certain things were not done. Could you remind the Committee, because you seem to be quite defensive of what you have done in saying that you have done the best you can, what was the reason for your regret that you mentioned in your original statement?
Mr Clarke: The regret is quite simply that people who have suffered enough already through being the victims of crime now find that because of the activities of basically the News of the World-and maybe others, who knows-their suffering has been increased.
Q525 Chair: As a result of something you didn’t do?
Mr Clarke: As a result, partly, of the fact that the victim strategy, which we set in place in August 2006, appears not to have worked as we had intended.
Q526 Chair: Had that worked you would have been very satisfied with your inquiry?
Mr Clarke: I would have been satisfied with the inquiry that we conducted. Obviously, as a former investigator I can’t be happy that there is material in our possession that subsequently turned out to contain important information, but I come back to the point if only News International had seen fit to co-operate at any early stage.
Chair: Yes, we have got that message. Thank you very much for coming, Mr Clarke. We are most grateful. Could we call our next witness, Andy Hayman? You are welcome to stay if you wish, Mr Clarke.
Examination of Witness
Witness: Mr Andy Hayman, Former Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, gave evidence.
Q527 Chair: Mr Hayman, can I start with an apology from me for keeping you waiting so long. As you see, these are very complicated and detailed matters. We are extremely grateful. I wrote to you on 21 June asking you a series of questions about your involvement in this matter. You have not replied to this letter so I will take this evidence as being your reply. We hope to cover some of the points that I put in that letter.
Mr Hayman: Can I just clarify that?
Mr Hayman: Having got that letter, it gives the impression that I have just completely blanked it. That is not the case. I have spoken to your office and asked for some steers on that. I have copies of emails where I needed to contact the Met to get information to answer those questions, and of course we spoke on the phone only two weeks ago to clarify that. The last thing I asked you was whether you are happy that we haven’t corresponded and this would be evidence-in-chief, and you were content with that.
Q528 Chair: Yes. That is exactly what I said, in a shorter version.
Mr Hayman: I just wanted to clarify that.
Chair: We have accepted that, so we will cover the points in the letter. But could I start, because I know members of the Committee will ask this and I will just start to clear it out of the way, if I may, with your relationship with News International? It is no surprise that the Committee will want to ask you that question. When did you start your negotiations with News International that you would write a column and become an employee of them?
Mr Hayman: I retired in 2008 and I was approached by several newspapers to write, and that is something I have always wanted to do. It is a sort of boyhood aspiration. It was a choice of being a journalist or being a cop. It has turned out that both of them were probably funny choices. Having then considered approaches by several newspapers, I chose to go with The Times and I believe the final agreement was around-I retired on paper in April 2008 and I think I agreed in July 2008, so a couple of months after.
Q529 Chair: So two months after you retired. Did it not occur to you, were there no alarm bells ringing, to remind you that you had been investigating News International, albeit in an oversight role? We have heard the various roles that you had, that you knew exactly what was happening with regard to the investigation, you knew that there were items that had not been properly looked into. Did it not occur to you that this is perhaps not the best decision of your life in that you should go to the very people that you were investigating, especially as we have now heard from both Assistant Commissioner Yates and Peter Clarke that they were most unco-operative in respect of the investigation that was being conducted?
Mr Hayman: Yes, okay, Chairman. The Times, okay, it is part of News International. I knew no one at The Times at an editorial level. They had slaughtered me on their front page shortly before the Queen’s birthday honours list, so there was no love lost there at all. The naivety, looking back at it, you might say, is the point you are alluding to there, that they are part of the same stable, but I just didn’t see that. I was seen by the editor and the deputy editor and I didn’t know them from Adam. I was put through the paces on asking why I wanted to do that and that is how I took it. The other point really is that I can absolutely say that any hint of being in their back pocket or anything like that is unfounded. I refute that. In terms of the investigation, you have heard from other witnesses; even if I had that motive or motives that other things have been suggested, I had no ability to change the direction of that at all.
Q530 Chair: We will keep the motives for a second, but just in respect of this, are you satisfied that you should continue to write this column for The Times, bearing in mind what has now come out, that an investigation over which you had oversight had resulted in so many victims of hacking who had not been contacted, so much criminality, or should you give up this column, even though it is temporary?
Mr Hayman: Do you not think I should perhaps have that as a private conversation with them?
Chair: I am sorry?
Mr Hayman: Do you not think I should have that as a private conversation with the editorial team at The Times rather than share any thought I have now in a public arena?
Q531 Chair: You are in a Select Committee considering very important matters, so it is something that I should put to you.
Mr Hayman: I can say it is something that I think all parties need be alive to, and I think a decision needs to be made with both parties privately.
Q532 Chair: So you would be suspended or dismissed, rather than you saying, "I’m sorry, at the moment, because of what has happened, I think I shouldn’t continue with my column"?
Mr Hayman: Well, if I get suspended or dismissed then I hope I get grounds for that, because I don’t think I have done anything wrong.
Q533 Chair: You talked about two parties. Surely you are a voluntary part of this arrangement and has it crossed your mind that, given what has happened, you shouldn’t really be involved with News International?
Mr Hayman: All I am saying, Chairman, is that I think we are contracted together. It is more appropriate when you are contracted together to have that as a private conversation and I just want to have that as a private conversation with them, that is all.
Q534 Chair: I am sure you will have plenty of opportunity. This is the last question from me on this issue and then I will open it up to colleagues. It is right that during your investigation you continued to have private dinners and meetings with News International-that is correct, isn’t it?
Mr Hayman: Absolutely. I was the person who actually put it out there in the public domain. I never made any secret of that at all. They weren’t the only people. I had a national responsibility for ACPO around media, so it was consistent with that role. I can tell you now that any suggestion or hint that these were cosy candlelit dinners where state secrets were shared is rubbish. They were businesslike; I was never on my own, I was always with the Director of Comms, which I think I put in the public domain.
Chair: The Director of?
Mr Hayman: Communications for the Met. They were businesslike, no more than that.
Q535 Chair: Yes, but at any of those dinners, which you did regularly with them, did you raise the concerns that Mr Clarke has raised with the Committee today that they were being totally unco-operative with the very investigation that you had oversight of? Did you ever say to them, "Hang on, friends."
Mr Hayman: Well, colleagues, not friends.
Chair: Or colleagues. Between the starter and the main course, "Why are you not co-operating with Peter Clarke?"
Mr Hayman: I would have to check the dates of these, but one other thing, of course, is that if we had had regular contact, and we did, and to be honest with you, News International when we had the bombings were very co-operative and helped us, certainly around 21/7 and the images that were plastered across the front pages, and it helped us catch the culprits. It would be more suspicious if you cancelled contact and kept them at arm’s length, having had a relationship-not only them but other people as well-in which you were trying to engender good work relationships and support. So it was quite strange, because I would have been aware that they were being investigated. They had not shown, to my knowledge, any obstruction at all, and it was like either side of the table, "I know something you don’t know and I’m not going to tell you."
Q536 Chair: So you do not accept what Mr Clarke has just said.
Mr Hayman: Sorry?
Chair: You do not accept that there was obstruction.
Mr Hayman: What I am saying is the timing. I am aware there was obstruction. My recollection, Chairman, is that it-one of the meals, I am sure, was when it all going on and the bizarre-and it is professional, isn’t it? I am sitting one side of the table, "I know something you don’t know and I ain’t going to tell you" and I did not even know when the door went in on the News of the World so therefore I think, as Peter has already said, it was important for the integrity of the investigation he kept everything very tight.
Q537 Chair: Just to clear up the last issue, which is in the New York Times today, allegations that there was some kind of deal done because of your personal life, which is a matter of public record, why you resigned and so on, and that they basically would not attack you if you supported them in this investigation. Would you like to, on the record, clear this up?
Mr Hayman: These are all terribly grubby suggestions, and one has to say two things really. Firstly, in that article it suggested that my phone was hacked. That is news to me, and if they did hack it, all they would hear about that is the shopping list and golf tee-off time. There was nothing more suspicious than that. The second point is-
Q538 Chair: So was your phone hacked or not?
Mr Hayman: I don’t have a clue.
Q539 C hair: Nobody has told you?
Mr Hayman: No, I don’t have a clue.
Q540 Chair: But you are on the list.
Mr Hayman: Am I?
Mr Hayman: I don’t know. I really don’t know, and if I am, so be it, because I have nothing to hide at all. As I say, the shopping list will be on there and golf tee-off time. On the second point around the motives and all that kind of deals in the background, we have already heard-even if I had a motive that was unethical, and I didn’t-how could I have ever stopped a line of investigation or driven one in any way, shape or form? I didn’t, I couldn’t, Peter would never let me, and if I had ever done that Peter or the SIO would have been all over me like a rash saying, "What the hell are you doing?"
Q541 Chair: But all of this sounds more like Clouseau rather than Columbo.
Mr Hayman: I have to say-
Chair: You are having dinner with people you are investigating, you don’t know they are being investigated and you sign deals two months-
Mr Hayman: I know they are investigated, of course I do.
Q542 Chair: You don’t know they are being obstructive, because Peter did not tell you.
Mr Hayman: No, because I made the point, Chairman, going back to it, I don’t know the timeline. If those dinners went on after intervention being made, then fine, but my recollection is those dinners happened before the arrest occurred, and that is an important point to make.
Q543 Mark Reckless: Mr Hayman, setting aside the dinners, both you as the officer in charge and the then DPP, who we are told was consulted about the legal advice that apparently limited the scope of the investigation, are now working for News International. Have you any idea as to how that looks to the public?
Mr Hayman: It could look bad if there was some-
Nicola Blackwood: It does look bad.
Mr Hayman: Does it?
Chair: We all think it looks bad.
Mr Hayman: All right, I will take that on the chin. What I am saying is that if there was something behind that that could be evidence that as a result of that relationship things have been done unethically, then I will put my hands up. But you know what, I cannot think of anything, anything, in the background where the line has been crossed or I have done anything wrong as a result of being employed by The Times. If I go back in time, if I had jumped to another publication we probably would not all be here now. I jumped the other way and that is where we are.
Q544 Dr Huppert: I have to say some of your comments so far have been quite incredible. We have been trying to understand why, and Mr Clarke gave us very clear evidence that the scope of the initial investigation was simply too narrow, the decision was made, which I think we all think was incorrect, to make it very narrow. You were reporting to him and we are trying to understand why-
Mr Hayman: Reporting to who?
Dr Huppert: Sorry, he was reporting to you. What we are trying to understand is why there was not pressure to look at it broader, why nobody thought to look out, why in a higher role you did not suggest anything? We are trying to understand why this odd decision was made. We then find that you are a cop who wanted to be a journalist, you were having-
Mr Hayman: Absolutely, yes.
Dr Huppert: -regular interactions, you might be interested in the idea of having those connections. You clearly wanted to be a journalist for a long time, whether that was ever floated-do you understand why everybody is so concerned that somewhere along the line somebody failed to think, "This should be looked at a bit broader" and one of the people that could be then seems to have all these other connections?
Mr Hayman: Well, okay, but don’t beat me up for being upfront with you and honest. I am saying to you exactly what my aspirations have been and, therefore, when I retired I saw that as an opportunity for a second career. There is nothing more untoward than that. In terms of the decisions that were made by the investigation, you have heard from Peter as to what decisions he made and, because I was the boss of the Special Operations-although not involved on a day to day basis in understanding the decisions that were made in the decision log-I believe the responsibility and accountability stops at my door. Therefore I have always said, "What do you understand by ‘lead the investigation’?" Peter has been very clear about what, on a day to day basis, he was investigating. My command, along with lots of other things that were going on at the same time, were involving whatever investigations-
Chair: We know about the-
Mr Hayman: Right, and so I led that team, that is all.
Q545 Dr Huppert: In terms of the gratuity, as I understand it, the rules are very that any sort of gratuity, any meal, any drink, has to be recorded?
Mr Hayman: Sure, and it was, yes.
Q546 Dr Huppert: Every single interaction you had with any journalist was absolutely recorded?
Mr Hayman: Absolutely, yes.
Q547 Dr Huppert: We will find when that is exposed-it is kept for 10 years-that on no occasion whatsoever were you alone with these journalists?
Mr Hayman: Not to my knowledge, no.
Q548 Michael Ellis: Mr Hayman, you were having dinners with journalists. That in and of itself is not necessarily improper but you were having dinner with journalists, were you not, while they were being investigated by Scotland Yard? That is improper, is it not?
Mr Hayman: Put yourself in my shoes then, and we have to go back and see what the timeline was and what would happen when. I can’t remember that.
Q549 Chair: You cannot remember whether you had dinner with-
Mr Hayman: No, I can remember that. I can remember that.
Chair: Then the answer must be yes.
Mr Hayman: No, hang on, hang on, Chairman. I can’t remember the timing of when those dinners happened in relation to what was going on in that investigation, but I absolutely agree with what you are saying. I am sure there was an occasion when they were being investigated that may have happened. Now, the judgment is, firstly, there is no way that I am ever, ever going to disclose anything to anyone about what is going on.
Q550 Michael Ellis: Forgive me, Mr Hayman, you say that you would never disclose it-
Mr Hayman: No.
Michael Ellis: -but you have made a judgment call to accept hospitality from people who you are investigating for criminal offences. That is correct, isn’t it?
Mr Hayman: Yes.
Q551 Michael Ellis: So you think that is an appropriate course of action to have taken?
Mr Hayman: Well, if you let me finish. The judgment, the alternative judgment, is to say, "No, let’s not do that," and make some excuses. I discussed that with a senior colleague who was there at the time.
Chair: Which senior colleague?
Mr Hayman: This was the Director of Communications.
Q552 Chair: Who is this person? What is his name?
Mr Hayman: Hang on, it’s gone from me.
Chair: You have forgotten his name?
Mr Hayman: Dick Fedorcio.
Chair: Sorry, who?
Mr Hayman: Dick Fedorcio. Not to have that dinner, I think, would have been potentially more suspicious than to have it, and the most-
Q553 Chair: Suspicious?
Mr Hayman: I don’t know why you are laughing.
Chair: Because we are astonished, Mr Hayman, at the way in which you are answering these questions.
Mr Hayman: Well, I am sorry. I am very sorry but I am trying to be-I am trying to share with you the thinking at the time, and all I am sure I can say to you is this, that we never ever had a conversation that would have compromised an investigation.
Q554 Michael Ellis: Mr Hayman, you could also, can you not, during the course of a dinner discuss police tactics in general?
Mr Hayman: No. No.
Q555 Michael Ellis: It is possible for you to do that, though, isn’t it?
Mr Hayman: Not at all.
Q556 Michael Ellis: You are aware of police-
Mr Hayman: Absolutely not.
Michael Ellis: Of course it is possible, because you are aware of police tactics.
Mr Hayman: No, absolutely not, it is not possible at all, because you would be-
Michael Ellis: You are not aware of police tactics?
Mr Hayman: That is not what I said. All I am saying is there is absolutely no way that that is the purpose of that meeting. There would be no way we would go into the operational stuff, that is just ridiculous.
Q557 Mr Winnick: The last witness, Mr Clarke, said that when he was looking into phone hacking matters the attitude of News International was hostile. Won’t people wonder, when you were in charge of the inquiry in 2006-07-
Mr Hayman: In charge of what inquiry, Mr Winnick?
Mr Winnick: The phone hacking inquiry.
Mr Hayman: What do you mean by "in charge’?
Chair: Well, you had oversight.
Mr Hayman: Oversight.
Q558 Mr Winnick: Oversight. I don’t know why you are splitting-
Mr Hayman: I am not splitting hairs, I am just making sure that I can understand-
Mr Winnick: Let’s get it quite clear, you were in overall charge of the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking affair 2006-07. You are not disputing that?
Mr Hayman: Yes, it was in my command.
Q559 Mr Winnick: You are not disputing that?
Mr Hayman: No.
Mr Winnick: No, good, that is clear. But won’t people say, a general sort of public attitude, that if News International was so hostile originally, what sort of inquiry could you have undertaken overall responsibility for, when they offered you a job a year later, afterwards?
Mr Hayman: It was about two years later, and I must admit, weighing it up, they were a different part of the stable. The Times, as far as I was concerned, that wasn’t-it was part of News International as a big outfit, of course, but it was not the News of the World.
Q560 Mr Winnick: It was one organisation, and I don’t think that is in any way disputed. I must put it to you, Mr Hayman, that many people must come to the conclusion that your inquiry, for which you had overall responsibility, was not strong in any way, was not meant to be strong, and in fact you should apologise for what occurred.
Mr Hayman: I think you have heard from Peter that this was not the Sunday football team turning out in the Premiership, this was the best team that I ever had. Peter Clarke, his reputation as an investigator is tenacious, he got on with it, he kept his cards very close to his chest because he didn’t want any compromise, and his team below him, they imprisoned many terrible, dangerous men. You would always want him on your team sheet, you would not want him on the subs bench. So I am not quite sure who else I could have gone to. They performed, I believe, to the best of their ability.
Q561 Mr Winnick: You think it was adequate?
Mr Hayman: Well, you can make your own judgments on that. I believe they worked as hard as they could.
Mr Winnick: We have made our own judgment.
Mr Hayman: I know you have.
Q562 Nicola Blackwood: I feel a little bit like I have fallen through the rabbit hole, I have to say. Mr Hayman, you have said, and you are quoted in the Evening Standard saying that in the original investigation no stone was left unturned. Something that this Committee is rather unsure about is exactly why there was a decision not to have an exhaustive analysis of the 11,000 documents, which were in the possession of the police from 2006.
Mr Hayman: Yes, sure.
Nicola Blackwood: And why there was no assessment of any additional victims who might have been identified within that, or additional perpetrators.
Mr Hayman: Yes.
Nicola Blackwood: Can you explain to the Committee your role in that decision and your assessment of that role?
Mr Hayman: Well, I sat at the back and I have listened to it and I pick up the mood of the Committee and I can see where you are coming from on that. But I had no involvement in that decision at all; I think Peter has made that clear. I think we have also heard in evidence that there were people that went through it, those pages, but they probably went through it within the parameters that were set for the investigation.
Q563 Chair: Did you ever discuss that decision with Mr Clarke? That is the point.
Mr Hayman: No, it wasn’t raised at all.
Q564 Chair: He made the decision himself without discussing it-
Mr Hayman: He has said that, hasn’t he, yes.
Q565 Nicola Blackwood: But he came to have meetings with you, at which point he would have discussed his portfolio of investigations, I assume, and would have discussed whether he was going to continue with this investigation or not at some point. You have no recollection of discussing the implications of widespread phone hacking within the media?
Mr Hayman: Yes, you are absolutely right, he would come to me on a regular basis and we would talk in very general terms about it. I think the structure-what was it, 7/7, Litvinenko, or anything like that-is that the SIO would be working very closely with the CPS, who obviously said the direction of the legal advice that was there, and so on the basis of his briefings there, yes, I would take his judgments and his decisions he made, and I have to say, having seen him give evidence here, he stood up and explained exactly what his thinking was, and-
Q566 Chair: What about your thinking? He met you on a daily basis, he said.
Mr Hayman: I guess so, yes.
Q567 Chair: You cannot remember meeting him daily?
Mr Hayman: Well, okay, yes, daily.
Q568 Nicola Blackwood: But you were aware he was conducting this investigation?
Mr Hayman: Of course, yes.
Q569 Nicola Blackwood: And you had no thinking about the priority level that should be assigned to this investigation?
Mr Hayman: Well, he would come to me with what he saw as the priority and the resources that were available, and without going back to what the decision log says, I would endorse it, yes.
Q570 Nicola Blackwood: But you had no thoughts of your own?
Mr Hayman: I can’t go back to what the discussions were at the time but the fact that we are where we are now, I would have endorsed what he said.
Chair: We need to hurry, colleagues, we have one final witness.
Q571 Steve McCabe: Two quick points. Firstly, why do you think further investigations into this affair could be a waste of public money?
Mr Hayman: Sorry, can you repeat that?
Steve McCabe: I was just looking at your quote. You said that you don’t believe, "that a judicial review will reveal anything more than has already been reviewed by my successor, the CPS and other bodies. It could actually end up being a waste of public money." Is that still your view?
Mr Hayman: When did I say that?
Chair: When did he say it?
Steve McCabe: I am afraid I don’t have the date here but it’s a pretty-
Mr Hayman: I will be honest with you, if that is the case-
Q572 Steve McCabe: Well, let me ask you now, do you think it is a good idea to have the most detailed investigation of this matter now?
Mr Hayman: I will tell you what, when you look back now, what we know now, this is a horror story. This is absolutely awful. The people that are now going through the pain the second time around as victims, just appalling. The one thing I think publicly has been announced recently that Peter has already said, and I am up for this, is that we must-we must-have a judge-led public inquiry.
Q573 Steve McCabe: Fine, but you don’t recall that quote?
Mr Hayman: No.
Q574 Steve McCabe: Answer me one other question, why did you set out to ridicule Lord Prescott when he persisted with his allegations about phone hacking?
Chair: We do have a date for this.
Mr Hayman: Yes, I remember doing it. No, I remember.
Steve McCabe: I think we have got quite a number-
Mr Hayman: No, no, I remember it. I remember it.
Q575 Chair: Do you remember what you said? You said he was ranting. You said, "There is absolutely no evidence from that initial investigation of his phone being hacked." You don’t believe a judicial review will reveal anything more. Do you regret saying that?
Mr Hayman: Well, the terms of it were pretty poor.
Q576 Chair: So you owe Lord Prescott an apology?
Mr Hayman: Yes, of course I do.
Q577 Steve McCabe: You said, "If I am proved to be wrong I will eat my words and face the music."
Mr Hayman: Yes, well I think I am doing that now.
Chair: Shall we pass you a piece of paper? Thank you.
Q578 Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr Hayman, do you not understand that the public will just see you as a dodgy geezer who was in charge of a phone hacking inquiry conducted by the News of the World, who resigned from the force among allegations of expenses claims and allegations of improper conduct with two females, who has told this Committee today that you had no knowledge of editors or sub-editors of The Times while cosying up to the executive levels of News International, and amazingly received an award for this investigation?
Mr Hayman: Not for this investigation, no.
Chair: No, we would not have expected you to receive an award for this. Apart from that last bit, can you answer Mrs Fullbrook?
Lorraine Fullbrook: But this is a disaster, this inquiry, an absolute disaster under your direction.
Mr Hayman: It is under my watch, it is in my command, absolutely.
Q579 Chair: Absolutely it was a disaster?
Mr Hayman: At the time, and I think Peter has made this point, everything possible that they were able to do given the resources and the parameters they set was done. I stand by that, and Peter has as well.
Q580 Chair: But now?
Mr Hayman: Well, what it looks like now, it looks very lame, and I think what has happened is that we have had more time to do it, more revelations have come out, the News of World have given us some material that we didn’t have at the time. Peter has gone through the detail of the correspondence he had and he decided-you know, he was frustrated at that correspondence, so that is where we are.
Q581 Lorraine Fullbrook: So it is a disaster?
Mr Hayman: No, it is not a disaster when two people plead guilty and went to prison.
Q582 Lorraine Fullbrook: You do not think this is a disaster, when 11,000 pages of material was cursorily scanned and nothing came from it? That eight hours of investigation was given to this review, you do not think that is a disaster?
Mr Hayman: How do you mean eight hours of investigation?
Chair: The Yates review.
Mr Hayman: I don’t know about that.
Q583 Chair: You have never heard of the Yates review?
Mr Hayman: Of course I have, but it is not for me to comment on that.
Chair: No, but Mrs Fullbrook was trying to put it all in a round-
Mr Hayman: I think, given the parameters that were set and the reading that was done of the material, at that time it was proportionate and within those parameters that were set.
Q584 Chair: But now do you think you have reason to apologise?
Mr Hayman: Well, apologise-I want to be sure that when I stand there I am apologising for either something that I have done wrong-
Chair: On your watch.
Mr Hayman: Something that I am personally accountable for, or someone in my team has done. I want to know what it is that people have done wrong for us to apologise.
Q585 Mr Clappison: I am afraid I have one or two questions arising from what you have just said and from what we know about this. You have just said, and Mr Clarke said earlier, that you were under resource constraints, that you had other distractions at the time, and that you set yourself parameters for this. Can I ask you then about your new career as a journalist, because you have chosen to write about this for your new employer, News International, in an article that appeared in July 2009 under the heading-when your recollection was apparently better than it is now-"News of the World investigation was no half-hearted affair". You wrote: "In the original inquiry my heart sank when I was told the accusations came from the Palace. This was not the time for a half-hearted investigation. We put our best detectives on the case and left no stone unturned as officials breathed down our necks. The Guardian has said" this was subsequently in 2009 "that it understands that the police files show that between 2,000 and 3,000 individuals had their mobile phones hacked into, far more than was ever officially admitted during the investigation and prosecution of Clive Goodman, yet my recollection is different. As I recall the list of those targeted, which was put together from records kept by Glen Mulcaire, ran to several hundred names, of these a small number, perhaps a handful, where there is evidence that the phones had actually been tampered with. Had there been evidence of tampering in the other cases that would have been investigated as would the slightest hint that others were involved."
Mr Hayman: Sure, yes.
Mr Clappison: Would you say that that article could stand some correction in the light of what we have seen in the last couple of weeks?
Mr Hayman: When it was written it was on the basis-I think it was Commander John McDowell, he came into my office and came to me with a number of foolscap pages-I think A4 or foolscap-and I think it was something in the region of eight or nine, and my recollection was that over his briefing to me there were three groups of names. There was ostensibly a contact list, which, in itself, you wouldn’t expect from anyone, it is like an address book of numbers of people. I believe that the second column or list was a shorter number where I think-my recollection was that they might have been PIN numbers that were known. My understanding is on the legal advice-there was a third category of people where I think they had technologically proved that they had used the PIN number and the telephone number to access the voicemail. So my understanding at that time of writing that was that we had gone from a long list of contact numbers down into a list of people, of which some had PIN numbers, and there was a list that had been accessed and hacked.
Q586 Mr Clappison: Could we just come to this a bit shorter, because that was what was written in 2009, and I want to ask you about what you knew at the time or had been told?
Mr Hayman: That is what I knew.
Q587 Mr Clappison: At the time were you told the name of other individuals who had been hacked into, related to the material that had been obtained from Glen Mulcaire and all the files?
Mr Hayman: No.
Q588 Mr Clappison: You were not given the names of any other individuals?
Mr Hayman: No.
Q589 Mr Clappison: To your knowledge there are no other names of individuals in the documents as people who have been effected?
Mr Hayman: The only names-I can only remember a handful of names of people, and the briefing I was getting, was that there were numbers of people who were prosecutable and the CPS said were able to be taken to court.
Q590 Mr Clappison: There were people who subsequently discovered, and I think Mr Taylor was one of them, that their names were amongst the evidence that was in your possession, which apparently had been redacted in certain cases when the evidence was given to those acting privately on behalf of the individuals concerned, who were never approached by you or any other officers at the time, is that right?
Mr Hayman: I don’t know.
Q591 Mr Clappison: You don’t know. Did it come as a surprise to you when it turned out that Mr Taylor apparently took private legal proceedings to discover these documents and other documents in the possession of News International and to discover that he apparently had been hacked into and was the subject of compensation paid by News of the World? That was never investigated?
Mr Hayman: I don’t know.
Q592 Mr Clappison: Were any other journalists investigated at the News of the World besides the ones who were targeted?
Mr Hayman: I think Peter asked for information on other journalists and I think in his evidence he said that that was not forthcoming.
Q593 Mr Clappison: Can we just go back to what you said a moment ago then? You said that you were presented foolscaps of names, whose were those names?
Mr Hayman: I can’t remember.
Q594 Mr Clappison: Were they names of people who had come to light-I am not asking for particular-
Mr Hayman: No, honestly-
Mr Clappison: Were there names of other people? Who were the names that were presented to you in the foolscap, where did they come from?
Mr Hayman: That was a-I am just trying to explain to you, I recall, not in any real detail, but I just remember John coming in and he said, "These are the names-". I thought that this was-not necessarily from the 11,000 because it wasn’t until later that I even remembered that-from names that they had collected from either the searches of the premises or from other sources, and it was-I can’t remember the names on it, in fact I probably didn’t even pay much attention to it. It was just going through that.
Q595 Dr Huppert: Mr Hayman, I am hoping you can help this Committee. You have told us that you behaved totally honestly throughout, you remember some things and not others, and so forth. Let me give you a counterfactual, that there was somebody who had a very similar role to yours but did have illicit connections, did talk to News International, did make deals about it, whatever it might be, that it was not all entirely innocent. How could this Committee possibly tell the difference from what you have said so far? Is there anything that you could say that could persuade us that your version is correct and we should not be worried about all these other-
Mr Hayman: I think what you have to do is, you can speculate all you want around motive and what have you, but you have to then be able to show that someone can turn a motive into an outcome and has got the ability to do that.
Q596 Dr Huppert: So we have to show that somebody could get a well-paid job with News International? What is the opportunity we are looking for?
Mr Hayman: No, no, what I thought I got from your questions was that for all those motives you described there, what could I have done on a daily basis to either interfere or stop or influence, and I couldn’t. I had no ability to do it whatsoever. You have heard that from Peter.
Chair: Thank you, we have some very quick final points. Please make them very quick.
Q597 Nicola Blackwood: Mr Hayman, I am very conscious that this session will be watched by victims of hacking and I am also conscious that much of the evidence that you have given would sound more familiar coming from the mouth of a tabloid journalist than from a senior police officer. I wonder if you would accept the fact that the original police investigation failed those victims, and whether you would have something you would like to say to those victims now?
Mr Hayman: Peter and I would join-you have heard from Peter, and I would say that of course-you know, I have said already in evidence that it is absolutely appalling that victims of crime have then gone through that terrible experience, and then this, where we find ourselves now today, having all this pored over in their private lives. That is absolutely appalling. So that is a matter of absolute regret. Absolutely.
Q598 Nicola Blackwood: Would you like to take this opportunity to apologise to them now?
Mr Hayman: I think I just have. I do apologise, yes.
Q599 Lorraine Fullbrook: Mr Hayman, while a police office did you receive payment from any news organisation?
Mr Hayman: Good God, absolutely not. I cannot believe you suggested that.
Dr Huppert: Lots of people did.
Mr Hayman: Hang on, I am not letting you get away with that. Absolutely no way. I can say to you-
Chair: Mr Hayman. Order.
Mr Hayman: No, come on, Chairman, that is not fair.
Chair: Order, order.
Mr Hayman: That is not fair.
Chair: Mrs Fullbrook is not getting away with anything.
Mr Hayman: No, no, the additional comment.
Chair: It is the same question she had put to all witnesses.
Mr Hayman: Could Mr Huppert repeat his additional comment?
Dr Huppert: Other people have.
Mr Hayman: Yes, but hang on-
Chair: Mr Hayman. Order, Mr Hayman. Order.
Dr Huppert: There has been evidence in public that a number of police officers did.
Mr Hayman: But that is a real attack on my integrity. I am not having it.
Q600 Chair: Order, order. Members of this Committee are allowed to ask any questions they wish. It is a fair question to put, because it is in the public domain at the moment about other police officers. She has put her question, you have given an answer. The answer is an unequivocal no.
Mr Hayman: Absolutely.
Chair: Thank you.
Q601 Mark Reckless: Mr Hayman, how many officers and staff did you have on this 2006 investigation?
Mr Hayman: I am going to have to rely on what Peter described.
Q602 Mark Reckless: How many was it? If necessary we can refer to Mr Clarke to answer that-
Mr Hayman: Yes, I cannot remember what Peter said.
Mark Reckless: -because I think the Committee needs the answer to that.
Mr Hayman: Yes, whatever Peter said is what we had.
Q603 Chair: Mr Hayman, I normally sum up people’s evidence, but on this occasion I think your evidence speaks for itself. Thank you very much for coming.
Mr Hayman: Thank you very much. Pleasure. Thank you.
Chair: Can we have our final witness, the head of Operation Weeting, Sue Akers.
Examination of Witness
Witness: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, QPM, Head of Operation Weeting, Metropolitan Police, gave evidence.
Q604 Chair: Deputy Commissioner Akers, could I start with an apology for keeping you waiting and the journalists clambering over you. We know how extraordinarily busy you are, and we are extremely grateful to you for coming here. I will start with a general statement to members of the Committee and others watching. We will not ask you about operational matters, we know obviously these are very sensitive, you are in the middle of an investigation and we appreciate the fact that you have come here to tell us about the process that you are adopting. Please do tell us, after the evidence we have heard so far, that there is a thorough inquiry going on headed by you and what the process is, what your ambitions are for this inquiry.
DAC Akers: I am very happy to do so. Can I just first of all say, because I am very conscious that all of you are relying on a document from the Guardian and are quoting as something that Operation Weeting has provided to the Guardian. Can I just set the record straight? I have seen, I think, the document that you are referring to that is on their website. I have only seen that because it was alerted to me by somebody that complained that we had leaked information that they did not want to be in the public domain. Since looking at that, I have now established that it is the work of a journalist who is putting matters together, some of which are because people have gone on public record as saying they are victims, some of which is just pure investigative journalism, some may be because matters have been leaked to them, but that document is a compilation of those various things and does not come from us and therefore it contains inaccuracy and I do not want you to rely on that.
Q605 Chair: That is extremely helpful, thank you. It is very kind of you to tell the Committee that, and we are most grateful. Going on to your current inquiry, please tell us why this inquiry was set up?
DAC Akers: I have to say I think the catalyst was the civil actions brought by various members. As a result of those civil actions brought by individuals there was a vast amount of disclosure that was requested from News International. In doing their trawl in connection with that disclosure to the civil actions they came across the three emails, and that is in the public domain, that were then passed to us in January where it showed that there was another member of their organisation that was under suspicion. That was the catalyst then for the new inquiry to be started in the Specialist Crime Directorate, which is where I am, and we set up an inquiry consisting of experienced detectives and people experienced in documentation and administration in association with a major inquiry.
Q606 Chair: Indeed. How many full-time officers do you have working on this?
DAC Akers: I think we have said 45, and I regularly review the resources and I will flex those, if we need more for an operational reason then I am happy to enlarge them. Equally, if we find that we do not need as many as that then I will be returning them to other parts of the organisation.
Q607 Chair: I am not sure whether you were present during the previous evidence session or whether you have just come in.
DAC Akers: I have been. No, I have heard it all.
Chair: We are not going to go back over everything that has happened but I think one of the concerns of this Committee is the documents that were originally seen by the first inquiry, reviewed by Mr Yates, which you now have in your possession I assume. Do you have the documents in the bin bags, if I can call them that?
DAC Akers: We have all the original material that was gathered in the 2005-06 investigation known as Operation Caryatid plus additional material that we have gathered since we started our operation at the end of January.
Q608 Chair: You are reviewing that evidence and investigating it in a thorough and complete way?
DAC Akers: Yes. Would it be helpful if I kind of enlarge on our approach to the victim strategy?
Chair: Please, that would be very helpful.
DAC Akers: Obviously we thought very long and hard about this because you have heard of the difficulties that you get into when you are trying to use the criminal law to define what is a victim. I took a very pragmatic approach, which was to say that regardless of whether the criminal law said they were or they were not, there were a vast number of people who feel they have had their privacy invaded and have been violated. Intuitively it just seemed the right thing to treat them in exactly the same way as you would do somebody who strictly meets the criteria of a victim in accordance with the law. So, in other words, there are people who have had their messages listened to, that have been left. Under RIPA, that would not constitute an offence against them, it would constitute an offence against the person whose phone the message was left on, but the person whose messages they are feels equally violated.
So we have taken a very broad approach, we have also given a commitment that as we get through and identify the various people that are named in the material we will inform them that they are contained within that material. There are nearly, I think, 4,000 names, first names and second names, in the original Mulcaire documentation. We have undertaken to go and visit each one of these people and as we do that and we work out way though that, on the pages that they are shown, we are showing them the material because they can help with our investigation because they can make sensible numbers and connections that we can’t. As we show them that there are a range then of other people or numbers. They in turn belong to people who we have also said we will go and see.
Q609 Chair: Thank you for that. One of the issues that is of concern to this Committee, we took evidence from the mobile phone companies, and between them they had 120 victims on their books and they were waiting for communication from the Metropolitan Police as to what they should do. Should they inform their customers that they have been hacked or should they wait until you do so? Do you have a view as to what should happen?
DAC Akers: Yes, I will tell you what is happening. The mobile phone companies are helping us compile as comprehensive a list as we can of the victims. They all collect their data in different ways so one company only will have names, the others just have a vast number of telephone numbers. Between us-that is, our team and the mobile phone companies-we are coming to a definitive list so that we can go to them. So I think you may, Chair, have been under the impression that these lists were in existence. They weren’t, they are not in an easy format, but we are working, and we are nearly at the point where we will have compiled them. When we have done that, it is us and not the mobile telephone companies who are taking responsibility to get around to see all those people.
Q610 Chair: The names that are coming out into the public domain, for example a former Prime Minister’s name was mentioned, also the fact that a number of Royal Protection officers may have indeed sold stories to journalists. Is that under your purview as well?
DAC Akers: All the victims that are in the 2005-06 investigation and any subsequent additions to that will be under my purview.
Q611 Chair: Mr Brown, for example, said he went to the police previously to ask whether he had been hacked, and nobody replied. When people think they are being hacked they write to you, do they, and you then say yes or no?
DAC Akers: They do. When we took over the job our legal department still had quite a lot of letters that they were still in the process of answering where people had made that inquiry. That was part of our prioritisation exercise really to get through and reply to people who had asked. Since the huge coverage in the media and since journalists have being cold calling potential victims we have now had, since last weekend, I think something in the region of about 500 people who have written to us asking if they were-it is speculative really, if they were contained in the material. Of those 500 I think there is 70 that have been contained in the material but the vast majority are not, and it is a diversion.
Q612 Chair: Can I finally just clarify the issue of resources, because we were concerned-and we have heard from Mr Clarke and others-about the issue of resources. Do you have all the resources that you need in order to do this work? Because we had the Commissioner before us last week and I did ask him about the amount of resources going into this and he would obviously prefer all these senior officers to be trying to catch burglars and others, I think he said. But you have the resources you need? You have no problem if you need more resources to get this matter complete once and for all?
DAC Akers: I think I do. It is something I keep constantly under review and, as I said earlier, I can get more resources if necessary. Similarly, if it looks like there are other priorities that need resourcing and our investigation does not require it, I can return people to those other duties. So it is constantly under review. In an organisation of 50,000 plus people I can reassure you that 45 people dealing with Operation Weeting is not going to derail us from dealing with all our other victims as well.
Chair: Sorry, you need to just speak up a little bit more because the acoustics are not very good.
Q613 Alun Michael: The issue of whether payments are being made to police officers by a newspaper or newspapers has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by the Metropolitan Commissioner, as we understood it, last week so that they will decide how those allegations should be investigated.
DAC Akers: Can I stop you there, because that is not quite as it happened. On 20 June we were alerted to the fact that there were allegations of payments being made to police officers that would require investigation. Some documentation was handed over by News International. Early in the morning on 22 June we had a follow up meeting where further documentation was released and as a consequence of that I and a colleague had a meeting with IPCC to tell them what we had and it was agreed at that stage that we would continue to scope and that is what we did.
There came a point, I think, on 7 July when the Commissioner is talking about, when we made a formal referral to the IPCC and that now is under the personal supervision of the Deputy Chair Deborah Glass who is taking it as a supervised investigation. That means that direction and control remains with me but I keep her fully appraised of what is happening.
Q614 Alun Michael: I fully understand that. As I understand it, if there is an allegation, an investigation, of either illegal activity or improper behaviour it has to be referred to the IPCC and they can then decide that you continue with the investigation or otherwise.
DAC Akers: That is right.
Alun Michael: I understand that exactly, but my question to you was could you confirm that the referral had been made, and you can.
DAC Akers: Yes, and it was.
Q615 Alun Michael: Can I ask whether other issues have been or are under consideration for referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in relation to the failures in the early investigation, which have obviously been the subject of so many questions in this Committee?
DAC Akers: I am sorry, that is not within my area of knowledge.
Q616 Dr Huppert: Thank you, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Akers. Many of us are quite keen to see this judge-led inquiry get going as soon as possible, and one of the constraints is obviously not wishing to jeopardise your investigation. How quickly do you think such an inquiry could really get going to its full capacity?
DAC Akers: I think it has got going. I think you will see from the fact that we have made eight arrests-
Dr Huppert: Sorry, the judge-led inquiry.
DAC Akers: How soon could the public inquiry get going?
Dr Huppert: Yes.
DAC Akers: Sorry. It is difficult to put a time scale on my investigation. I think there is probably a limited amount of work that the public inquiry could do while my investigation was carried out. There is an awful lot of material that is in the public domain that I think the public inquiry could start read in. I think where you get into difficulties is when you start to take evidence from witnesses, that is where I would ask-
Q617 Dr Huppert: Do you think the delay would have to be in the order of weeks, months, years? Obviously you can understand why we are keen to get going.
DAC Akers: I can tell you of the arrests we have made the bail date is for October so certainly if there were to be any charges it would not happen before then and then we will go through the court process so-
Q618 Chair: But there is nothing to stop the Prime Minister announcing the name of the head of the inquiry and the terms of reference? That would not interfere with your-
DAC Akers: No, no, and then suspend it pending my investigation? Absolutely not.
Q619 Mr Winnick: I think clearly a good deal of responsibility lies on you, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, to try and get to the bottom of this criminality as far as the police are concerned, leaving aside the inquiries that the Prime Minister announced last week. Can I just get clear in my own mind here, in your reply to Mr Michael, the previous police inquiries that we have been hearing and asking questions about today, you will not be dealing with that at all?
DAC Akers: I will not be dealing with any conduct matters that arise out of that. I am obviously dealing with material that was part of the previous inquiries.
Q620 Mr Winnick: So you will be looking at the previous inquiries, leaving aside the conduct of the people involved?
DAC Akers: The material that was used in the convictions of Goodwin and Mulcaire is the same material, plus additional material that we have uncovered, that we are using for our investigation.
Q621 Mr Winnick: In effect, looking at all the inquiries, investigations, since the allegations were made?
DAC Akers: Looking at all those as has been well publicised-the 11,000 pages that were contained in the Mulcaire material, yes.
Q622 Mr Winnick: My last question is, what level of support or otherwise are you getting from News International?
DAC Akers: I think it is fair to say that when we started and all our dealings were through lawyers, it was difficult. Forgive me if I am offending anybody in this room, but lawyers tend to put an immense amount complexity around things that to me seem fairly uncomplicated.
Mr Winnick: Only the lawyers could be sensitive about it.
DAC Akers: So we spent some two months agreeing a protocol, and you have heard my colleagues talk about journalistic privilege and privileged material and how that can create problems for us, so we have developed a protocol. I had a meeting at which, for the first time, two News International executives attended to debate our very different interpretations of the expression "full co-operation". Subsequent to that meeting, I can say that relationships have been much better. My team deal certainly weekly, if not sometimes daily, directly with the executives and we are experiencing an altogether different feel.
Q623 Mr Winnick: Can you tell us at what level of seniority News International are dealing with Scotland Yard?
DAC Akers: I think they are very senior indeed. They are executives.
Mr Winnick: Could we have names, or you would rather not?
DAC Akers: I am sure they would not mind, Will Lewis and Simon Greenberg are the people we are contacting.
Q624 Michael Ellis: I just want to ask you, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Akers, about some of the scope of your investigation if you can. You have been asked about News of the World and News International, is the scope of your investigation just about that organisation? There are media organisations.
DAC Akers: Well, we have to start where we start and I have gone on record as saying we will go where the evidence leads us. At the moment we have started with News of the World and that is where we are and going beyond that I think encroaches on my investigations so I would rather not speculate.
Q625 Michael Ellis: So be it. When do you expect to finish?
DAC Akers: It depends on what we uncover along the way.
Q626 Michael Ellis: For example, if there are payments to police officers for leaking information to journalists, will you investigate those matters?
DAC Akers: I am investigating those matters under the operation.
Q627 Bridget Phillipson: In the comments you made at the start you talked about the civil action leading to your renewed investigation, I ask this as a genuine question, how is possible that civil action can uncover information that the police are unable to do so through criminal investigation, as a general principle?
DAC Akers: Because as part of the action they ask for disclosure and the lawyers will approach News International. They are obliged to supply them with what they have asked for. I know what you saying that for five years it was the civil actions that prompted this, but that is the way it was. But there are people out there who felt so badly about this that they continued to pursue their actions until finally they have got their day in court and I have to say that-perhaps it is an appropriate time-there have been another journalist and other campaigners that have kept this on the agenda and we have reached a point now where one might think they have achieved their objective, a public inquiry, us all here giving evidence to committees and other things where you would think they have probably got what they wanted.
I am aware from the amount of reporting that goes on in various papers that there must be people sitting on a lot of material and I think now is the time for me to say please, if you have anything that would support my investigation-we are now six months down the line, and I just ask if anybody is holding that now would be a good time to get it on the table.
Q628 Chair: Are you in contact with our parliamentary colleagues, Mr Bryant and Mr Watson, who-
DAC Akers: I have certainly been in touch with Mr Watson, but not Mr Bryant.
Q629 Chair: Presumably you would welcome any help that they or the Guardian or anyone else can give?
DAC Akers: Anybody that is holding material, which clearly people are from the amount of media coverage, and there has been some-
Q630 Chair: Are you surprised at any of these names that are coming out, or do you know these names? For example, the Gordon Brown issue.
DAC Akers: No, I am aware of that.
Chair: You are aware of them.
Q631 Mark Reckless: Ms Akers, you say that it is clear that people, presumably external to the matter, are holding material because of the stories coming out. Is it not at least another theoretical possibility that the stories are being sourced from with the Metropolitan Police?
DAC Akers: I am sorry, I don’t follow you.
Mark Reckless: Could it not be that officers are leaking, whether paid or otherwise, this information, rather than its necessarily being the case that media outlets already have it?
Chair: Basically the leaks are coming from within?
DAC Akers: We will always be accused of that. I can say with absolute confidence, because I know what has been there, for instance, when there was speculation around victims of 7/7 bombings, we did not know that they were contained within our material.
Q632 Mark Reckless: Thank you for that answer, I was not accusing, it was merely a question.
DAC Akers: Of course it is a natural thing for people to suspect.
Mark Reckless: You did say that the reopening of this had been prompted by the disclosure demands of the civil actions but I recall, I think, John Yates telling us that it was reopened because the News of the World had given further evidence. Which of those is it?
DAC Akers: It is both. They gave further evidence, because in knowing they were going to have to disclose that evidence in civil actions they presumably realised that it would have to come to us.
Q633 Mark Reckless: Can I ask you a question finally that Mr Clarke was not able to answer for me earlier because he had retired, but in 2009 when it became apparent that News of World had given a very substantial payoff to Gordon Taylor, why did that not prompt the Met to reopen issues?
DAC Akers: I am sorry, I can’t answer that, I don’t know, I have not looked back. I am focusing on going forward with my new inquiry and I have not analysed what went on in the past.
Q634 Steve McCabe: I think I am right in saying that charges and arrests so far relate to section 1 of RIPA and section 1 of the Criminal Law Act. Is it possible in an inquiry of this kind that you could also be looking at section 79 of RIPA?
DAC Akers: As to any charges, we have a very good relationship with the CPS and we will work with them and they will decide in due course, if it comes to that, what the most appropriate charges are. I am sure they will not confine themselves to one particular part of RIPA.
Q635 Nicola Blackwood: You mentioned that you had to spend the initial part of your investigation going through the evidence and assembling a list of victims because it was not in an accessible form, but the evidence that we have just received from Assistant Commissioner Yates was that on 20 July 2009 he had put all the names from the 11,000 documents that they had on to a searchable database. So was that not in a useable format?
DAC Akers: No, and I think that has been acknowledged. It was not complete and there were mistakes made. One of the decisions that I made when taking on this was that, laborious as it may be, if we were going to reply to people inquiring about whether they were victims, I had to be absolutely reassured that we had a complete and accurate picture. So we have completely gone through all the material again and put it on another database.
Q636 Nicola Blackwood: The database assembled in 2009 did not have a complete list of victims?
DAC Akers: It had some of the material that had not been entered on, yes.
Q637 Nicola Blackwood: You now have a complete list of all victims from the pre-January 11,000 documents and also the post-January documents?
DAC Akers: We have now put on to a searchable database all that material that was seized in 2005-06.
Q638 Nicola Blackwood: What about the recent disclosures from News International?
DAC Akers: That is constantly-
Nicola Blackwood: It is constantly coming forward.
Chair: Constantly updated. Just give us a figure, how many have been contacted, and how many are left to be contacted?
DAC Akers: When I started to describe the scale of the task we have, because I had made this commitment to see everybody, I think I said there were something like 3,870 names, first and second names, in the database, there are another 5,000 landline telephone numbers and about another 4,000 mobile phone numbers, so we have started. Again, we had to prioritise the people who had written in, as well as other high-profile people we have seen, and I think I have how many we have seen, if you bear with me.
Sorry to have to refer to the person who is dealing with this on a daily basis, but he tells me that 170 have been informed.
Q639 Chair: So out of 3,870 names, 5,000 landlines and 4,000 mobiles, 170 have been contacted? So there is a lot more work to be done?
DAC Akers: There is an awful lot more work to be done. I can see how that looks. I have explained first of all the months it took to make sure the database was right, and we are distracted by disclosure for civil actions and other things. My commitment remains absolutely-
Chair: We certainly understand that. The Committee is not being critical at all, we are just making a point. Thank you.
Q640 Dr Huppert: Can I just ask about the breadth of the inquiry? As we discussed before, in the 2006 Information Commissioner’s review he identified a huge number of different publications that have found journalists using illegal services for information, the Daily Mail, Sunday People, Daily Mirror, Mail on Sunday and News of the World. Are you prepared to look beyond News of the World and News International if that is where the evidence takes you?
DAC Akers: If I have the evidence, I am absolutely prepared to look beyond on that.
Q641 Chair: With your hat on as one of the leaders of the Met, what damage has been done, how much damage has been done to the Met by all this?
DAC Akers: I think it is everybody’s analysis that confidence has been damaged, and I don’t doubt if we do not get this right it will continue to be damaged, but I am confident that we have got an excellent team who are working tirelessly to get this right, and I hope that I do not have to come back here in five years’ time to explain why we failed.
Q642 Chair: It is reported that the Commissioner may be making a statement tomorrow, at least it was reported in the Guardian. I have just received a letter from him confirming he has no intentions or plans to do so. Do you know anything about this?
DAC Akers: No, can I say we are finding an awful lot of things being reported in the press that we have no idea about, least of all our inquiry. I think it is fair to say I have not ever experienced an inquiry quite like this, where our every move is reported in the press before we make it, some of which is accurate, and some of which is completely speculative.
Q643 Chair: But you are confident that this will be a thorough inquiry and that it will help restore trust?
DAC Akers: I guarantee it will be a thorough inquiry.
Q644 Chair: And it will help restore trust in the Met?
DAC Akers: I hope so.
Mr Winnick: We accept your guarantee.
Chair: Thank you very much. Should we book the date in five years’ time? I am not sure. Thank you very much for coming in and apologies for keeping you waiting.