Press standards, privacy and libel - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence from the Metropolitan Police Service

  Thank you for your letter of 20 October 2009 and I hope that the information and comments provided below will enable the Committee to bring its enquiry to a satisfactory conclusion.

In going through some of the questions it was considered that particular themes emerged. For ease of reference, I have grouped the questions together with my response under those subject areas.


Question 1.  I would be grateful if you would confirm who has been contacted by the Metropolitan Police as a result of the Guardian articles (Questions 1985-88 of 2 September refer.)

Question 4.  In written evidence to us you said that the investigating police: "led on informing anyone who they believed fell into the category of Government, Military, Police or Royal Household, if we had reason to believe that the suspects had attempted to ring their voicemail" (para 15.) How many suspected victims were contacted in each of the four categories listed above and how many additional people since the police statements of 9 and 10 July? The submission goes on to state that the police contacted individual phone companies about other suspected victims. How many names and/or numbers were passed on for assessment in this way?

Question 5.  Specifically we would be grateful for confirmation as to when the police contacted Tessa Jowell MP, who was named in the Guardian as a victim of Mulcaire.


  "Given the nature of the issues the MPS was investigating ie interception of sensitive/personal telephone conversations, one of the key parameters of the investigative/prosecution strategy was to ensure proper consideration was given to individuals' right to respect for their private and family lives. One of the fundamental tenets of the investigation was therefore to protect those individuals' rights to privacy by not revealing any information without their consent. Furthermore many potential "victims" or "persons of interest" to Mulcaire and Goodman had potential national security issues, or personal sensitivities associated to their role/position in public life and therefore did not wish to be part of a prosecution. Many have also more recently requested that any communication with them remain "strictly private and confidential—not for publication".

Given our duty to respect these individuals' private and family lives, we are unable to provide all of the details requested, however we are able to confirm the following:

Question 1.   As confirmed by Andy Coulson in public to the Committee, he was contacted by the MPS as a result of the Guardian articles. We are unable to confirm any other names but can inform the Committee that the numbers are no more than a handful.

Question 4.   A very low number of individuals were contacted in the categories listed and no additional contact has been instigated by the MPS since the police statements of 9th/10th July 2009. In terms of part two of Question 4, to maintain individual privacy the individual phone companies were not supplied with lists of potential victims (apart from those who had agreed to be witnesses in the trial), but rather they were supplied with the potential phone numbers that Mulcaire and Goodman had used to see if they could ascertain to what degree their respective client base may have been vulnerable due to calls from these numbers.

Question 5.   The MPS is not formally aware as to whether Tessa Jowell MP has made any public declaration in relation to this matter and therefore to respect her right to privacy we cannot comment any further.

  To assist and reassure the Committee we can confirm that at the time of the investigation where we believed someone did fall into the relevant category as described above, those persons were contacted promptly individually and as part of further wider security awareness the Cabinet Office was briefed about the risks (not about individuals.)


Question 3.  In evidence to us on 21 July Tom Crone, Legal Manager of News Group Newspapers, told us that: "The police raided Mulcaire's premises; they raided Goodman's premises; and they raided the News of the World offices. They seized every available document; they searched all the computers, the files, the emails et cetera".

(Q 1339) We were also told during that session, by Colin Myler, that Glenn Mulcaire had a "vast database of contact numbers in the sport and show business world" (Q 1420.) Please would you confirm whether any such database was found during your searches.


  The searches and seizure of material all took place on 8 August 2006. In the case of Clive Goodman his home and office at NOTW were searched. The offices of "Nine Consultancy" used by Glen Mulcaire, his home address and his parents address were also searched yielding a huge quantity of documents. Hundreds of unstructured handwritten sheets showed research into many people in the public eye. These included those linked to the Royal Household, Members of Parliament, military staff, sports stars, celebrities and journalists. There was also a quantity of electronic media and computers recovered which in Mulcaire's case did contain similar personal data as found on the hundreds of handwritten individual sheets of paper. It is reasonable to expect some of the material, although classed as personal data, was in their legitimate possession, due to their respective jobs. It is not necessarily correct to assume that their possession of all this material was for the purposes of interception alone and it is not known what their intentions was or how they intended to use it.


Question 6.  Further to your and Mr Williams' answers to Questions 1938, 1989 and 1990 please clarify what the range of material was that the police sought and what answers you received from the lawyers representing the News of the World.


  Post arrest there were meetings and a series of formal letter exchanges that took place between CPS, lead council, police and the solicitors employed to represent News of the World.

A range of material was asked for, examples include:

    — All documents pertaining to the employment of Mulcaire.

    — Any record of work completed by him.

    — Who does he report to, has he worked for other editors/journalists—if so copies of that work.

    — Details of their internal phone systems (including itemised billing) and floor plans of phone extensions.

  We made clear that "the investigation is attempting to identify all persons that may be involved including any fellow conspirators."

  News of the World instructed lawyers to respond to our requests for disclosure and they took a robust legal approach to our requests and provided material strictly based upon the evidence against Goodman and Mulcaire. When it came to anything wider their position was that either the material did not exist or they assessed that it was confidential journalistic material. What was received did become part of the prosecution, but following legal advice we did not have any power or basis upon which to compel further disclosure.


Question 7.  A number of references were made on 2 September to material collected by the police as part of your investigation. We would be grateful for:

(a)  a log of that material and in particular information on the material which you described to us as " sensitive, unused material" (Question 1892.)

(b)  a log of the tape recordings of Mulcaire and to whom he was speaking and a transcript of any conversation with someone called Ryan.

(c)  further information as to how and why you have reason to believe the Princes' phones had been directly accessed; whether this was disclosed to the News of the World during the investigation; and why no prosecutions were pursued in this respect.

(d)  a log of the evidence supplied to Gordon Taylor in his civil action.


  7(a)  The "logs" of material being requested are extensive, include material not relevant to the prosecution of Mulcaire and Goodman and sensitive material eg it might reveal investigative techniques or tactics or personal details of individuals. It is difficult to see how disclosure of this material can assist the Committee in their inquiry. Additionally as outlined in my answer to Q1, 4 & 5 above consideration needs to be given to individuals' right to respect for their private and family lives, which much of this material consists of.

By way of assurance, the CPS examined all of these disclosure lists at the time and more recently. As part of that process, you will be aware that Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions has confirmed that he is satisfied that in the cases of Mulcaire and Goodman, the CPS was properly involved in providing advice both before and after charge; that the MPS provided the CPS with all the information and evidence and that the prosecution approach in charging and prosecuting was proper and appropriate.

7(b)  Police hold no tape recording involving someone called Ryan.

  7(c)  In line with my opening comments in relation to seeking to preserve individual rights to privacy we are unable to provide any further information in respect of the Princes.

  In terms of the witnesses who agreed to be part of the prosecution I would draw you to DPP Keir Starmer's comments, "from a prosecution point of view what was important was that any case brought to court properly reflected the overall criminal conduct of Goodman and Mulcaire. It was the collective view of the prosecution team that to select 5 or 6 potential victims (in addition to the 3 Royal Household ones (Private Secretaries and Press)) would allow the prosecution properly to present the case to the court and in the event of convictions, ensure that the court had adequate sentencing powers."

  7(d)  The "log" of material provided to Gordon Taylor was provided pursuant to a court order and it contains material relevant to the proceedings he brought against the News of the World. If relevant to the Committee the consent of Gordon Taylor should be obtained to disclose the terms of the order.

Question 8.  You provided to us a schedule of intercepts which showed "potential intercepts" by both Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire on Helen Asprey from February 2005. Please clarify the evidence that you have in relation to this, and why the charge period was shortened from January 2005—August 2006 to start instead from November 2005.


  The final charges were a matter for the CPS.

It is our understanding that the reason Count 1 changed from January 2005 to read 1 November 2005 was primarily to ensure that the "best evidence" could be adduced to demonstrate Mulcaire and Goodman were working together as part of a "conspiracy", (one of the key points to prove for Count 1 was the period from November 2005 onwards.) This directly supported "a prosecution point of view—what was important was that any case brought to court properly reflected the overall criminal conduct of Goodman and Mulcaire" and was therefore the optimum means of securing a conviction to "ensure that the court had adequate sentencing powers."


Question 2.  Please would you provide a copy of all statements issued by the Metropolitan Police on this matter following the Guardian's article.


  Two statements have been issued by the MPS following the Guardian's article and they are attached as Appendix "A".

We have endeavoured to answer the Committee's questions as fully as possible, whilst recognising our duty to balance individual's rights to privacy. However, if the Committee feels we can assist further please do let me know.

John Yates

Assistant Commissioner

Specialist Operations

November 2009



  FOR OFFER: I have been asked by the Commissioner today to establish the facts around our inquiry into the alleged unlawful tapping of mobile phones by Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire. I was not involved in the original case and clearly come at this with an independent mind.

Just by way of background. In December 2005, the Met received complaints that mobile phones had been illegally tapped.

We identified that Goodman and Mulcaire were engaged in a sophisticated and wide ranging conspiracy to gather private and personal data, principally about high profile figures. Clearly they benefited financially from these matters.

  Our inquiries found that these two men had the ability to illegally intercept mobile phone voice mails, commonly known as phone tapping.

  Their potential targets may have run into hundreds of people, but our inquiries showed that they only used the tactic against a far smaller number of individuals.

  In January 2007, Goodman and Mulcaire were jailed for four and six months, guilty to conspiring to unlawfully intercept communications.

  Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to an additional five charges relating to similar matters.

  On sentencing the two men, Mr Justice Gross at the Old Bailey said the case was "not about press freedom, it was about a grave, inexcusable and illegal invasion of privacy".

  The police investigation was complex and was carried out in close liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service, Senior Counsel and the telephone companies concerned.

  The technical challenges posed to the service providers to establish that there had in fact been interception were very, very, significant.

  It is important to recognise that our enquiries showed that in the vast majority of cases there was insufficient evidence to show that tapping had actually been achieved.

  Where there was clear evidence that people had been the subject of tapping, they were all contacted by the police.

  These people were made aware of the potential compromise to their phones and offered preventative advice.

  After extensive consultation with the CPS and Counsel, only a few were subsequently identified as witnesses in the proceedings that followed.

  I said earlier in this statement that these two men were engaged in a sophisticated and wide ranging conspiracy to gather personal data about high profile figures. One was a private detective and one was a journalist. It is reasonable therefore to expect them to be in possession of data about such matters as it's part and parcel of their job.

  I emphasise that our enquiries were solely concerned with phone tapping. This, as far as we are aware, affected a much smaller pool of people.

  There has been a lot of media comment today about the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. This investigation has not uncovered any evidence to suggest that John Prescott's phone had been tapped.

  This case has been subject of the most careful investigation by very experienced detectives. It has also been scrutinised in detail by both the CPS and leading Counsel. They have carefully examined all the evidence and prepared the indictments that they considered appropriate.

  No additional evidence has come to light since this case has concluded.

  I therefore consider that no further investigation is required.

  However, I do recognise the very real concerns, expressed today by a number of people, who believe that their privacy may have been intruded upon.

  I therefore need to ensure that we have been diligent, reasonable and sensible, and taken all proper steps to ensure that where we have evidence that people have been the subject of any form of phone tapping, or that there is any suspicion that they might have been, that they have been informed.


  FOR OFFER: Following on from a statement yesterday by AC John Yates in relation to the MPS investigation into unlawful mobile phone tapping by Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire the Met has this evening (10/7/09) begun contacting a number of people.

AC Yates said yesterday that he wanted to ensure that the Met has been diligent and sensible, and taken all proper steps to ensure—that where we have evidence that people have been the subject of any form of phone tapping by Goodman or Mulcaire, or that there is any suspicion that they might have been by the two men—that they have been informed.

  The process of contacting people is currently underway and we expect this to take some time to complete.

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