Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Fury at Met 'catalogue of failures'

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said there had been a catalogue of failures by the Met Police
The committee said the conduct of ex-assistant commissioner Andy Hayman was both unprofessional and inappropriate

Scotland Yard has been accused of "a catalogue of failures" over the phone hacking investigation in a damning report by MPs.

The Home Affairs Committee criticised the "deliberate attempts by News International to thwart the various investigations" as it rushed out its findings just hours after holding its final hearing into the scandal.

But it said there was no "real will" on the part of the Metropolitan Police to overcome the news organisation's failure to co-operate.

It also called on the Government to provide more funds for Operation Weeting, the police hacking probe, warning that any delay in completing it would "seriously delay" the start of the public inquiry announced by the Prime Minister.

MPs said they agreed with former assistant commissioner John Yates' own assessment that his 2009 review of the investigation was "very poor", that he did not ask the right questions and that he was guilty of a "serious misjudgment".

The report also criticised the conduct of Andy Hayman, who oversaw the investigation, as "both unprofessional and inappropriate". The committee said it was "very concerned" that such an individual was placed in charge of anti-terrorism policing.

There was also criticism for Dick Fedorcio, Scotland Yard's current communications chief, for apparently showing "no due diligence" in conducting proper checks on Neil Wallis, an ex-News of the World executive who was employed by the Met in 2009 and was last week questioned about phone hacking allegations. The committee said it was "particularly shocked" by Mr Fedorcio's approach to hiring Mr Wallis and said he tried to deflect blame on to Mr Yates.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said: "There has been a catalogue of failures by the Metropolitan Police, and deliberate attempts by News International to thwart the various investigations. Police and prosecutors have been arguing over the interpretation of the law.

"The new inquiry requires additional resources and if these are not forthcoming, it will take years to inform all the potential victims. The victims of hacking should have come first and I am shocked that this has not happened."

MPs called for the swift and thorough investigation of claims journalists paid police for information, "which will help to establish whether or not such payments may have influenced police inquiries into phone hacking".