Police may reopen phone-hack probe
Published 05/09/2010 | 11:42
Police will consider any new information in the News of the World phone-hacking case and consult prosecutors on whether any further action should be taken, a senior Metropolitan Police officer said.
Assistant Commissioner John Yates said the Met has asked the New York Times to provide any new material it has relating to the case, including an interview with former reporter Sean Hoare, who has claimed that Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson knew about News of the World staff eavesdropping on private messages when he was editor of the paper.
Mr Yates also repeated the Met's assurance that there was "no evidence" that former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott's phone was hacked.
Lord Prescott has threatened to take legal action to force police to release any documents relating to him which were seized during an investigation which in 2007 led to journalist Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire being jailed.
But Mr Yates said the Met has already provided Lord Prescott with all the information relevant to him, and by law cannot supply the actual documents unless ordered to do so by a court.
Mr Yates' statement, released by Scotland Yard, is the first indication that police may be ready to reopen their inquiries into unconfirmed claims that reporters listened in to the voicemail messages of a long list of prominent figures, including politicians and celebrities.
The News of the World has always insisted that Goodman and Mulcaire were acting alone. The paper has rejected claims in the NYT that there was a wider culture of phone-hacking at the paper of which its editor was aware - something which Mr Coulson himself also denies.
All five candidates in the Labour leadership contest called for a fresh inquiry into the case. But Cabinet minister Michael Gove accused Labour of "recycling" old allegations in the hope of embarrassing Prime Minister David Cameron.
In his statement, Mr Yates said: "Since further allegations in relation to phone hacking first emerged in the Guardian in July 2009, the Metropolitan Police has been very clear about its position and made this public on a number of occasions.
"The newspaper produced no new evidence for us to consider reopening the case - a position endorsed separately by the Director of Public Prosecutions and leading counsel. We have always said that this position could change if new evidence was produced."