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'No appetite' for hacking review

Former home secretary Alan Johnson had "no appetite" for inspectors to review Scotland Yard's original police phone hacking investigation, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.

Sir Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said he advised Home Office officials there should be an independent review after a July 2009 Guardian story alleged the illegal interception of voicemails was far more widespread than previously believed.

He told the press standards inquiry that the idea of getting Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) involved was discussed with ministers and the then-home secretary, but it "never really got off the ground".

Scotland Yard's original phone-hacking investigation resulted in the jailing of News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in January 2007 after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages left on royal aides' phones.

But the Met was widely criticised for failing to reopen the probe after the Guardian published an article on July 9 2009 alleging there were more journalists and many more victims involved in the case.

Sir Denis said he had a discussion about the report with a Home Office civil servant on the day it appeared in print.

He told the inquiry: "I said, looking at this, that I thought the revelations merited some form of independent review.

"I thought that the allegations that were there, if true in any degree, would raise substantial public confidence issues, and I would not be surprised if the HMIC were asked to assist in some way to facilitate such an approach...

"I think there was a second - again in the margins of other business - conversation with another, more senior official.

"But my understanding was that, as with a number of other options, discussions ensued with ministers and the home secretary at the time, and there was no appetite for the HMIC being involved. So it never really got off the ground, sadly."


From Belfast Telegraph