6 Sep 2010

MPs debate News of the World phone-hacking claims

Even the House of Commons annunciator machine gets it wrong occasionally. It said the urgent question was about “Phone Tapping” but it was about “phone hacking” – gaining illicit access to voicemail.

It appears to have been prevalent across newspapers for years. It was etiquette amongst those hacking to delete the messages they’d heard to make sure a rival newspaper didn’t hack in and get the same story into print before them.

In the Commons, Theresa May echoed the words of Assistant Commissioner John Yates on BBC Radio 4 this morning, saying that the Met would now be looking into the New York Times’ allegations. But that probably won’t get things very far.

The NYT contains allegations, only one of them from someone currently wanting to be named. That is different from what the police class as “evidence” – that would require some dates, incidents, specific names etc.

What those angry about all this needed to do was to get the police looking into the countless unchecked leads that sat in files they raided in 2006 in the home of Glenn Mulcaire. It seems increasingly clear that the police didn’t want to go looking for evidence in most of these cases.

When Chris Bryant MP asked them if he was on the list last year the police said he could easily find out if people had been trying to hack into his voicemail by calling his service provider. One call and he’d heard it had happened at least four times with people trying to bluff their way into getting his pin number. That didn’t take long.

But it was time, energy, discomfort perhaps that the police didn’t want to go through in 2006, 2009 or now. And as things stand the police don’t intend to march off doing it now.

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