1 Introduction |
1. In 2005-06, the Metropolitan Police investigated
claims that a private investigator, Mr Glenn Mulcaire, had been
employed by News International to hack into the Voicemail accounts
of certain prominent people, including members of the Royal Household,
to obtain information on them. This case led to the prosecution
and subsequent imprisonment of Mr Mulcaire and Mr Clive Goodman,
the royal correspondent for the News of the World. The
charges brought against Messrs Mulcaire and Goodman cited a limited
number of people whose phones were alleged to have been hacked.
However, papers taken from Mr Mulcaire in the course of the investigation
indicated that journalistsnot necessarily all from the
same newspaperhad asked him to obtain information on a
number of other people: it was not always clear who the subjects
of the inquiries were (a number were identified only by initials
or a forename), nor whether the request involved hacking or some
other means of obtaining information.
2. In 2006 the Information Commissioner, who
is responsible for overseeing the UK's data protection laws, published
two reports, What price privacy? and What price privacy
now? which gave details of investigations conducted by his
office and the police into "a widespread and organised undercover
market in confidential personal information." In one major
case, known as Operation Motorman, the police and Information
Commissioner's Office found evidence that 305 journalists working
for a range of newspapers had used a variety of techniques to
obtain personal information for their stories (more details are
provided in Appendix A). Some of the information could have been
obtained only illegally; other pieces of information could be
obtained legally (e.g. addresses via voter registration records)
but this would have been very time-consuming and the prices paid
to the private investigators obtaining the evidence were too low
for such onerous work.
3. In 2009 it became known that one person who
considered he had been a victim of hacking by Mr Mulcaire at the
instigation of a News of the World journalist had launched
a civil case against that paper's owners, News International,
and, it was reported, had received a large amount in damages in
settlement whilst agreeing to be bound by a confidentiality clause.
The successful litigant was Mr Gordon Taylor of the Professional
Footballers Association. The media noted at the time that he was
unlikely to have been of interest to the royal correspondent,
so it was suspected that other News International journalists
or editors might have been involved with similar activities.
4. The names of other successful litigants gradually
leaked out. Over the next few months, a growing number of alleged
victims of hacking brought civil actions against News International
or sought judicial reviews of the handling of the original case
by the police, and demanded that the police release documents
seized from Mr Mulcaire relevant to their cases.
5. At the same time, the Guardian newspaper
was continuing to investigate the relationship between Mr Mulcaire
and News International journalists, focusing in particular on
claims by some former journalists that practices like hacking
were widespread in the News of the World. Because of the
concerns raised by the new allegations, on 9 July 2009 the Commissioner
of the Metropolitan Police asked Assistant Commissioner John Yates,
QPM, to look into the case. We deal with both the 2005-06 investigation
and Mr Yates's role in 2009 later in this report.
6. We were aware that our sister committee, the
Culture, Media and Sport Committee, had had a longstanding interest
in the ethics of reporting and reporting methods, and were repeatedly
taking evidence on this issue. Whilst the role of the media was
clearly part of that Committee's remit, questions were being asked
about the response of the police to the original allegations in
2005-06, and there appeared to be some confusion about the interpretation
of the legislation governing hacking which had the effect of making
it unclear who precisely might be considered a victim of that
crime. Accordingly, early in September 2010, we launched an inquiry
into 'Unauthorised tapping into or hacking of mobile communications',
with the following terms of reference:
- The definition of the offences relating to unauthorised
tapping or hacking in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act,
and the ease of prosecuting such offences;
- The police response to such offences, especially
the treatment of those whose communications have been intercepted;
- What the police are doing to control such offences.
During the course of the inquiry, it became clear
that it was necessary to examine other aspects too:
- The scope of the police inquiry
- The role of the mobile phone companies in providing
security information to their customers and in relation to those
whose phones may have been hacked into; and
- The relationship between the police and the media.
Our focus has remained on the police, the prosecutors,
the victims and the legislation: in this Report we do not attempt
to reach any conclusions and recommendations about the actions
of specific newspapers or individual journalists.
7. We had invited Mr Yates to give oral evidence
to us on 7 September 2010 as the head of the Metropolitan Police's
Specialist Operations Unit on the two main areas dealt with by
his unit: Royal and diplomatic protection and Counter-terrorism.
We took the opportunity of asking him about the 2005-06 investigation
and subsequent developments. This evidence has already been published.
We later took oral evidence again from Mr Yates, Mr Chris Bryant
MP, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Information Commissioner,
representatives of three mobile phone companies (Telefonica O2,
Vodafone, and the Orange UK and T-Mobile UK joint venture, Everything
Everywhere), Lord Blair of Boughton QPM,
Mr Peter Clarke CVO, OBE, QPM, and Mr Andy Hayman CBE, QPM, (the
two senior police officers who oversaw the 2005-06 investigation)
and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, QPM, who is in charge
of the current investigation. In our final session, we took evidence
from Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Mr
Dick Fedorcio, the Director of Public Affairs and Internal Communication
at the Metropolitan Police Service, Lord MacDonald of River Glaven
QC and Mr Mark Lewis, solicitor. We received several pieces of
written evidence, all of which have been published on our website
and are printed with this Report, and we have corresponded on
a number of occasions with our oral witnesses, and with Ms Rebekah
Brooks, then Chief Executive Officer of News International, Assistant
Commissioner Cressida Dick, the National Policing Improvement
Agency, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and HM Chief Inspector
of Constabulary (the last four on the question of rules governing
the payment of police by the media and others). We would like
to express our gratitude to all who have given evidence to us,
and in particular to those who have repeatedly responded to our
further questions as our inquiry developed.
8. Since we opened our inquiry, the following
events have occurred. On 12 November 2010, after interviewing
the former reporter the late Mr Sean Hoare and others, the Metropolitan
Police said that it had uncovered further material about hacking
and passed the file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service
('CPS') to consider whether there was strong enough evidence to
bring criminal charges. The Head of the CPS Special Crime Division,
Mr Simon Clements, decided on 10 December 2010 that there was
no admissible evidence to support further criminal charges, as
the witnesses interviewed had refused to comment, denied any knowledge
of wrongdoing or had provided unhelpful statements.
9. On 5 January 2011, however, the News of
the World suspended Mr Ian Edmondson from his post
as assistant editor (news) following allegations that he was implicated
in the hacking of Sienna Miller's phoneMs Miller's lawyers
had found notes among the documents released by the police indicating
that Mr Mulcaire might have hacked into her phone on instructions
from Mr Edmondson. Following the suspension, the Metropolitan
Police wrote to News International requesting any new material
it might have. Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin opened a new inquiry,
led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers and codenamed 'Operation
10. The media continued to pursue the story of
the extent of 'hacking' by people employed by News International
in the period from about 2003-06, and (subsequently) both before
and after this period. On 5 April 2011, Mr Edmondson and Mr Neville
Thurlbeck, the chief reporter for News of the World, were
arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications
(contrary to Section1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977) and unlawful
interception of voicemail messages (contrary to Section 1 of the
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000). They were later
released without charge on police bail until September 2011. Further
arrests (including that of a royal reporter with the Press Association)
have been made since then. The new police inquiry under DAC Sue
11. The story took a new turn when the media
reported allegations that Mr Mulcaire may have hacked into the
phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year old murdered in 2002, and the
phones of her family and friends. It was also alleged that the
phones of the families of the Soham murder victims had been hacked
into in 2002 and that the same had happened to the phones of victims
of the 7th July bombings in London in 2005. An emergency
debate in the House of Commons on 6 July 2011 showed strong support
for a public inquiry into the phone hacking at the News of
the World and the conduct of the Metropolitan Police between
2006 and 2011. The Prime
Minister indicated that the Government agreed in principle to
a public inquiry in two stages that would consider the conduct
of the media generally and the history of the police investigations
from 2005 onwards. Subsequently, the terms of reference have been
announced, as has the fact that Lord Justice Leveson is to head
the inquiry. It had initially been suggested that a public inquiry
or judge-led inquiry could start work only once police investigations
and any consequent prosecutions had been brought to a conclusion.
MPs had argued strongly that the Inquiry should be established
straight away so that the judge leading it could immediately secure
any evidence that might otherwise be destroyed (although this
would be a criminal offence), and so that a start could be made
on issues not pertinent to ongoing investigations and prosecution.
There was a clear understanding on all sides that nothing should
be done that might prejudice the current police investigations.
The timing and timescale of the inquiry remain to be determined.
We welcome the fact that the Prime Minister consulted us on the
terms of reference for this inquiry.
INVOLVEMENT OF POLICE WITNESSES IN
12. It may be useful here to provide a brief
indication of which of our witnesses (police officers and prosecutors)
were involved in the various police inquiries and when. At the
time of the first investigation, Mr Peter Clarke was Deputy Assistant
Commissioner with the Specialist Operations Directorate (which
had been formed from the merger of the Counter-Terrorist Command
and the Royal and Diplomatic Protection group). Mr Clarke was
the most senior officer with day-to-day responsibility for the
2005-06 police investigation into hacking. Mr Andy Hayman was
at that time Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations,
and Mr Clarke's superior officer. Lord Blair of Boughton, then
Sir Ian Blair, was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police between
2005 and 2008. Mr Hayman resigned from the service in December
2007 and Mr Clarke retired in February 2008, so neither was still
in post at the time when further allegations appeared to be emerging
in the press in 2009. Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, QC, then
Sir Ken Macdonald, was Director of Public Prosecutions between
2003 and 2008.
13. By July 2009, the Commissioner of Police
of the Metropolis was Sir Paul Stephenson QPM, and Mr John Yates
was Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, having replaced
Mr Hayman's successor (Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick) in April
2009. Sir Paul asked Mr Yates to look into the stories emerging
in the Guardian and subsequently the New York Times
alleging that the hacking of mobile phones was a widespread problem
not confined to those investigated and prosecuted in 2005-07.
Mr Keir Starmer, QC, had succeeded Sir Ken Macdonald as Director
of Public Prosecutions. The members of the Crown Prosecution Service
giving advice directly to the police at this time were not the
same people as had advised the police in 2006-07.
14. In January 2010, the Metropolitan Police
decided to open a new investigation. DAC Sue Akers was appointed
to head the investigation, which is known as Operation Weeting.
Subsequently, DAC Akers was also to head the investigation into
allegations of payments by News International journalists to officers
of the Metropolitan Police.
Table 1: Timeline of events
|January 2003||Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson give evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Brooks admits to paying police officers for stories.
|November 2005||The News of the World publishes a story about Prince William's knee injury. This prompts a complaint to police that voicemail messages of royal officials have been intercepted.
||Investigation led by (then) Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke
||Commissioner Sir Ian Blair
|August 2006||Police arrest Clive Goodman (royal editor, News of the World) and Glenn Mulcaire (private detective).
|January 2007 ||Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire convicted of conspiring to intercept communications. Goodman is sentenced to 4 months in prison, Mulcaire is sentenced to 6 months.
|March 2007||Les Hinton gives evidence to Culture, Media and Sport Committee. He tells the Committee that an internal investigation found no evidence of widespread hacking at News of the World.
|May 2007||The Press Complaints Commission, the newspaper regulation watchdog, published a report on hacking but said it found no evidence of wrongdoing at the News of the World.
Harbottle and Lewis, News International's lawyers, reviewed internal emails between Mr Coulson and executives and found no evidence they were aware of Goodman's actions.
|July 2009||The Guardian newspaper publishes an article which details over £1 million in payments made by News International to settle court cases which focus on journalists alleged involvement in hacking.|
Scotland Yard announces that it has reviewed the evidence and no further investigation is required.
The Crown Prosecution Service announces an urgent review of material provided by the police in 2006.
Colin Myler and Andy Coulson give evidence to Culture, Media and Sport Committee
|Reconsideration of original investigation led by Assistant Commissioner John Yates
||Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson
|November 2009||The Press Complaints Commission publishes a second report on News of the World. It finds no new evidence to suggest that anyone at News of the World other than Mulcaire and Goodman was involved in phone hacking.
|February 2010||Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes report on Press standards, privacy and libel which suggests that it is inconceivable that senior management at the paper were unaware of widespread hacking.
|September 2010||New York Times publishes an article claiming that Andy Coulson was aware that his staff at News of the World were illegally hacking voicemail. It also questions whether the police were fully committed to the original investigation. The article prompts further calls for a new inquiry.
|December 2010||The Crown Prosecution Service announces that no further charges will be brought over the News of the World phone hacking scandal because witnesses refused to co-operate with police.
|January 2011||Metropolitan police open a new investigation into allegations of phone hacking.
||Operation Weeting, led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers
||Acting Comissioner Tim Godwin
|June 2011||300 emails retrieved from law firm Harbottle & Lewis handed to Metropolitan police by News International.
|July 2011||Metropolitan police announce operation Elveden to look at payments made to police by News International. Operation Elveden is subsequently taken over as an independent investigation by the Independent police Complaints Commission.
Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates resign.
|Operation Elveden, led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers
||Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson
1 The reports were published respectively in May and
December 2006, and may be found at www.ico.gov.uk. The quotation
is taken from What price privacy?, paragraph 1.7. Back
Evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee on 7 September
2011, Specialist Operations, HC 441-i Back
Lord Blair of Boughton gave oral evidence to us on 12 July 2011
in connection with another of our inquiries, into the 'New landscape
of policing'. We took the opportunity to ask him some questions
in relation to hacking. This evidence is currently available on
our website and in due course will be published with our report
on the New Landscape of Policing. This evidence is referred to
in this Report as Evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on 12 July 2011, New landscape of policing, HC 939-I. Back
HC Deb, 6 July 2011, col 1543 onwards Back