Stevens "had to get out" of News of the World

Lord Stevens, former commissioner of the Metropolitan police, has told the Leveson Inquiry that he “had to get out” of a contract involving writing columns for the News of the World.

“The whole thing just didn’t seem right to me,” Stevens said. He noted that he decided to terminate his contract with the paper — which involved his writing several pieces over a two-year period following his autobiography being serialised in the tabloid — some months after the convictions of royal reporter Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire of phone hacking.

He said he was paid £5,000 for the two articles he penned for the paper.

He told Inquiry counsel Robert Jay QC he had also heard further information about “unethical behaviour” at the now-defunct tabloid, which he later clarified as “general behaviour”.

Elsewhere in his testimony, he said that as commissioner he would have been “quite ruthless” in pursuing issues related to phone hacking later raised by the Guardian. “I’d have gone on and done it,” he said. “That’s what police officers are paid to do, to enforce the law.”

Also appearing today was chief constable of Surrey police and former Met office Lynne Owens. Quizzed over whether her approach of only meeting journalists at New Scotland Yard rather than in a social setting was “austere”, Owens said she felt it was “entirely appropriate”.

She also told the Inquiry she found it “abhorrent” that a police officer could leak information about celebrities when they appear at police stations. “I don’t think people who behave like that should be in the police service,” she said.

The Inquiry continues tomorrow with further evidence from former Metropolitan police staff, including former commissioner Lord Blair.

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