Police defend record on phone hacking investigation

A police officer who participated in the initial investigation into News of the World phone hacking today strongly denied that the Metropolitan Police had tried to minimise the impact of the scandal during the initial investigation in 2006.

Appearing at the Leveson Inquiry today, Phillip Williams, Detective Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Service, said that the force had been determined to gain convictions in the original prosecution of investigator Glenn Mulcaire and News of the World royal correspondent Clive Goodman, who were jailed in 2007 for phone hacking. Saying he could have stopped the investigation at any point, Williams stressed he was determined that there should be publicity surrounding the case. Williams agreed when Jay posited that News International had been unhelpful and obstructive in the investigation.

Quizzed on why the Metropolitan Police had not informed all 418 of the people identified by Mulcaire as hacking targets, Williams said only those who he felt definitely had been hacked had been informed. This included Rebekah Brooks (née Wade), then editor of the Sun and later News of the World editor.

Williams said he had not called in a broad range News of the World journalists because he believed this tactic would merely lead to a string of “no-comment” interviews. When quizzed by Robert Jay QC as to why he had not pursued the person mentioned in the infamous “For Neville” email (chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck), Williams reiterated that he would not interview someone merely on the basis of a first name.

Asked if he was angered by News International’s insistence that Goodman had been a lone rogue reporter, Williams said he had been “realistic”, understanding the company’s efforts to protect its reputation.

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