Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by AC Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police [LSP 40]

I am responding to your letter of 25 April 2013, in which you ask for a written update on the progress of Operations Elveden, Weeting and Tuleta. In the letter addressed to DAC Kavanagh, you ask seven questions which I deal with in order.

I am also responding, in this letter, to the three questions you ask of the Commissioner in subsequent correspondence, dated 9th May 2013. The response I give to question six seeks to provide you with the specific information you request.

Question 1—Details of arrest and prosecutions to date

The total of arrests across all operations currently stands at 121, and can be broken down as follows, Operation Elveden 65, Operation Weeting 36, Operation Tuleta 20. To date there have been 5 convictions, 31 charges, 69 suspects bailed for further enquiries and 16 people informed that there will be no further action taken against them. The convictions are for Misconduct in a Public Office and relate to four police officers and one prison officer. The main Operation Weeting trial has been listed for 9th September 2013; the CPS is in the process of considering whether Operation Elveden defendants and/or Operation Sacha defendants (perverting the course of justice) should be joined to the Operation Weeting trial.

The arrest and charge figures are correct as at 22nd May 2013. It is likely there will be further increases in these figures by 9th July 2013, when I am due to give evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Question 2—An update on your estimate of the number of victims of phone and computer hacking

Operation Weeting estimate that there are 3,700 “potential victims” of phone hacking, in that their names and phone numbers are in the hacking related material that police hold.

Of that total there are just over 1,000 “likely victims”, where there is an additional indication that they may actually have been hacked. This includes, for example, recordings of voicemail messages and details of Personal Identification Numbers. The numbers are still subject to some change as the evidence is developed.

Operation Tuleta has recorded 154 allegations of computer hacking, of which evidence has been found to substantiate 59 of those complaints.

Question 3—Your policy regarding leaks by police officers to the press where no payments have been made

Operation Elveden’s terms of reference are “to investigate alleged criminal offences that police officers or public officials have accepted money for supplying information to journalists”. The terms of reference have not been changed, however when suspected criminal wrongdoing that does not include payment comes to light it cannot be ignored.

Of the 64 arrests made on Operation Elveden, only one has been where payment is not a feature of the investigation. It is difficult to comment further on this issue without potentially prejudicing future prosecutions.

I would seek however to emphasise that it is in the public interest that police and the media have an open and honest relationship and the MPS actively promotes this on a daily basis.

Question 4—A proposed time line for each investigation

New evidence continues to be uncovered in all three investigations. For example, Operation Weeting has recently made new arrests in connection with both News International Newspapers and Mirror Group Newspapers. The length of all three investigations will be dependent on the evidence uncovered, the level of cooperation being provided by the newspapers being investigated and resourcing levels.

Numerous case files are in the process of being constructed for consideration by the CPS and, without pre judging their charging advice, there is the potential for further trials in the future. Where defendants have already been charged the CPS is considering the composition and order of trials as there is, at times, a cross over in evidence between investigations.

All of the factors mentioned have implications for the time each investigation will take to reach a conclusion, and there are at present too many variables to make an accurate prediction. I can say however that the investigations have been provided with funding up until April 2015.

Question 5—Costs to date and estimated costs for each operation

In 201112 the investigations cost £9 million and in 201213 £11.3 million, making the cost to date £20.3 million. The costs are as follows:

Operation Weeting—£13 million.

Operation Elveden—£5.7 million.

Operation Tuleta—£1.6 million.

The budget forecast for 201314 is £12.4 million and for 201415 is £6 million.

Question 6—Staffing and leadership arrangements

The total staff allocated to the three operations in 201213 was 195; the total for 201314 has been reduced to169.

Each operation has a detective superintendent in the role of senior investigating officer. A detective chief superintendent oversees the three investigations and reports to Commander Neil Basu.

Neil was recently appointed to the role, with the departure of DAC Kavanagh to become Chief Constable of Essex. I continue to be the Management Board Lead so Commander Basu reports to me, as did DAC Kavanagh and DAC Akers. Neil is in the process of meeting with the senior investigating officers for each of the operations, and will, as his predecessors did, keep me regularly updated.

Question 7—Any other information you consider relevant

The issue of the proportionality of police action when arresting journalists has been the subject of some critical media comment. In response, on 26th March 2013, I wrote to the Executive Director of the Society of Editors. For ease of reference I have attached a copy, as it sets out the police response to the issues raised.

I do hope that this summary provides you with the clarification you are seeking; I look forward to updating the committee further on 9th July 2013. Please bear in mind that the figures I have quoted in this letter may have changed by that time. In the meantime, if you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact this office.

Cressida Dick
Assistant Commissioner
Metropolitan Police Service

May 2013

Annex A


I am writing to you concerning the Metropolitan Police investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials (Operation Elveden) which is running in conjunction with the Operation Weeting phone-hacking inquiry.

In the light of some recent reporting and commentary about Operation Elveden I thought it would be helpful to reassure editors on a number of points. I am sure you will understand that for legal reasons I will not refer to current active cases.

I believe it is important to remember that we are not investigating victimless crimes nor has the remit of Operation Elveden been extended to any police officer who has simply spoken with a journalist, as has been suggested. The investigation is about police officers and public officials who we have reasonable grounds to suspect have abused their positions in return for corrupt payments. However when suspected criminal wrongdoing that does not involve payment comes to light it cannot be ignored.

The investigations being carried out do not mean that the Met wants or intends to stop officers talking to journalists. Providing it is above board and follows the straightforward guidelines that have been in place for many years, police officers interacting with journalists are not matters for Operation Elveden. It is in the public’s interest that police and the media have an open and healthy relationship and we actively promote this on a daily basis.

Some commentators have drawn inaccurate conclusions about our motives, perhaps because they are not (quite properly) privy to the reasons why individuals have been arrested. Those of us who do know the facts will not discuss them as this could prejudice potential criminal proceedings but I can reassure you that there is extensive deliberation before each and every arrest.

The investigation teams assiduously follow the Court of Appeal guidance that to attract criminal sanctions the suspected misconduct in question would normally have to amount to an affront to the standing of the public office held and to fall so far below the standards accepted as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder.

Safeguards in the form of external oversight also exist. As well as the Independent Police Complaints Commission supervision of the investigation, officers are working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service at every stage. On the evidence submitted by police, the CPS makes independent decisions about charging that take careful account of the Director of Public Prosecution’s guidelines to prosecutors which require them to consider whether the public interest served by the conduct in question outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.

I would also like to assure you that there are sound operational reasons for the times of day we elect to arrest people and, although this has been criticised, we consider it would be wrong to compromise potential evidential opportunities because those being detained are journalists, police officers or other public officials. We genuinely try to carry out these arrests in a low key manner and as swiftly as possible. This is often best achieved by assigning several officers to the various tasks needed to be carried out following an arrest. An appropriate level of resources reduces the time spent by police in someone’s home and the disruption this causes to those involved.

There has also been criticism that journalists have been put ‘under surveillance’ by Operation Elveden when the reality is that discreet checks being made in the immediate run up to arresting an individual at a certain time and location are a necessary police procedure.

There is also genuine concern on our part about the length of time that some of those arrested have been on bail. We are doing all we can to conclude matters as quickly as possible but it should be appreciated that the delays are the result of the complex nature of these inquiries. There have been millions of emails, documentation, complex communications data and trails of financial transactions that require painstaking analysis as evidence has gradually emerged. It is regrettable that there has been slow progress in some—but by no means all—cases but I am satisfied that the decisions being made by the investigating officers are the right ones and will withstand future scrutiny if challenged.

Finally, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that this investigation is about alleged corruption in public bodies. An unintended and, I hope, short-term consequence of this may be a negative effect on relations between police and journalists. This is unfortunate but in no way undermines the value the MPS puts on the role of a free and investigative press in a democratic society—indeed this investigation is the result of such journalism.

We want open, professional and trusting relationships between our officers and journalists.

Cressida Dick
Assistant Commissioner

Metropolitan Police Service

Prepared 19th July 2013