Delayed Met access to 'hack' list
The Metropolitan Police did not see a controversial list of dozens of firms and individuals linked to rogue private investigators until last week, it has been revealed.
The list was compiled by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which is coming under pressure from the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to publish the names of those found to have used investigators to obtain private information.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said it was "very surprising" that the list was not shared with the Met, which is carrying out inquiries codenamed Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta into allegations of phone-hacking, illicit payments to public officials and computer-hacking by journalists, some linked to private investigators.
Soca provided the committee with the list - containing 102 firms and individuals, including blue chip companies, law firms and financial services groups - on condition that the names are not revealed.
But following the shock resignation of Soca chairman Sir Ian Andrews, Mr Vaz has said he will ask his successor to review the decision. He said Soca should act with "urgency", arguing that further delay would be unfair to those on the list who want the affair cleared up. Mr Vaz wrote to Scotland Yard last week to ask how long the Met had been in possession of the list.
Commander Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police replied: "Until I received your letter on July 30 I had not seen or been copied into lists A and B provided to you by Soca. I contacted Soca that afternoon and they responded quickly providing me with a copy of that list that evening under the same conditions that it has been provided to you. Therefore, the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) had possession of the list at 7pm on July 30.
"My plans for these lists have been to compare them with all MPS live investigations that may be relevant, which includes Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta, in order to check whether any individual or company named is part of, or likely to become part of, a live investigation."
Mr Vaz said: "It is very surprising that the first time the Metropolitan Police had access to these lists was on July 30, 96 hours ago. This is more even more puzzling considering the joint statement released on July 12 2013 by Soca and the Met which stated that 'the MPS has been given full access to all material held by Soca'. Clearly this was not the case."
A Soca spokesman said that the Met had been given full access to all material relating to the agency's Operation Millipede investigation into blagging of private details, which led to the jailing of four private investigators. The spokesman said that Met officers were involved in compiling the list of investigators' clients.
The spokesman said: "As previously stated in correspondence to the committee, the MPS has been provided with full access to all Operation Millipede material held by Soca. The Operation Tuleta team was involved in the preparation of the list and requested that client information relating to their ongoing investigation be removed prior to its release to the committee. Commander Basu later received a personal copy of the list on July 30."