One of the top cops who was supposed to investigate the News of the World phone hacking scandal has admitted his decision not to pursue the investigation was “pretty crap”.
John Yates, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, admitted, “I have regrettably said the initial inquiry was a success. Clearly now that looks very different.”
The first police investigation claimed there were “only a handful” of victims of phone hacking.
But this was based on the same boxes of evidence the Met now say show that over 4,000 people were affected.
Yates spent one day in 2009 looking at the initial investigation into phone hacking—and concluded there was nothing worth pursuing.
He explained his action by saying, “I’m not going to go down and look at bin bags. I am supposed to be an assistant commissioner.”
Yates said News of the World staff had covered up the “industrial scale” of the phone hacking operation by insisting that just one rogue reporter was to blame.
“When we made the arrests in 2006 on the day we went to Wapping there was a Mexican stand-off, a lockdown, and they wouldn’t let us in,” he said.
At a select committee hearing Yates was asked if it was usual practice to stop investigations if the suspect was uncooperative.
Andy Hayman, the former officer who led the original inquiry in 2006, also gave evidence.
Hayman said he never made a secret of his private dinners with senior members of News International, but that he was always with the director of communications for the Met and they were always for business.
He added, “Not having dinner [with News International chiefs] would have been more suspicious than having it.”
He said that any suggestions that these were cosy candlelit dinners “where state secrets were shared” were absolute rubbish.
Both Hayman and Yates had their phones hacked by News International. Even this didn’t spur them into action.
That raises the possibility that police may have gone soft in their investigation because they feared having details of their private lives appear in the tabloid.
Allegations about the officers appeared in other news outlets.
Hayman dismissed such allegations as “terribly grubby”.