Hacking probe officers to appear before Leveson

Three Scotland Yard officers involved in the original police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World (NotW) will give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry today.

Three Scotland Yard officers involved in the original police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World (NotW) will give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry today.

Detective Superintendent Philip Williams, who led the 2006 inquiry, will appear along with Detective Inspector Mark Maberly, and Detective Chief Superintendent Keith Surtees.

The investigation resulted in the jailing of NotW royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in January 2007 after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages left on royal aides’ phones.

However the Metropolitan Police were widely criticised for limiting the scope of the probe, despite evidence from Mulcaire’s notebooks that there could be many more hacking victims.

Det Supt Williams quickly realised that the practice of illegally intercepting voicemails was likely to extend far beyond Goodman, the Leveson Inquiry heard on Monday.

He noted in a log on January 30 2006: “The implications are quite far-reaching because Vodaphone have apparently not appreciated that this (phone hacking) was even possible...

“If this is possible it is likely to be far more widespread than CG (Clive Goodman), hence serious implications for security confidence in Vodaphone voicemail and perhaps the same for other service providers.”

Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, said on Monday that the police accepted they did not follow their own strategy for informing potential hacking victims.

He noted: “It might be argued that the police deliberately failed to notify people in order to avoid a public furore, which might have called their whole strategy, including their relationship with (News of the World publisher) News International, into question.”

The second module of the inquiry into press standards, which began this week, is looking at relations between police and newspapers.

Former 'Crimewatch' presenter Jacqui Hames suggested yesterday that the NotW spied on her because of the paper’s links to suspects in the notorious 1987 murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.

She rejected as “absolutely pathetic” ex-NotW editor Rebekah Brooks’s claim that the paper was investigating whether she was having an affair with detective chief superintendent Dave Cook, who was actually her husband.

Ms Hames, herself a former Scotland Yard detective, fought back tears as she told the inquiry of the damaging effect that being placed under surveillance had on her and her marriage.

Lord Justice Leveson will hear evidence tomorrow from ex-Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and his former assistant commissioner John Yates, who both resigned over the phone hacking scandal.

Sir Paul resigned after coming under fire for hiring former NotW executive editor Neil Wallis as a PR consultant and for accepting free accommodation at a luxury health spa worth thousands of pounds.

Mr Yates quit amid criticism of his relationship with Mr Wallis and his decision in 2009 not to reopen the phone hacking investigation after the Guardian published a story by Nick Davies revealing the illegal practice was more widespread than previously believed.

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry last July in response to revelations that the NotW hacked murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone after she disappeared in 2002.

The first part of the inquiry, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general and is due to produce a report by September.

The second part, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will not begin until detectives have completed their investigation into alleged phone hacking and corrupt payments to police, and any prosecutions have been concluded.

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