A clearly uncomfortable Scotland Yard assistant commissioner John Yates appeared on BBC radio this morning to admit that the Metropolitan Police was prepared to reopen its investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, should any “new evidence” be brought.
Well there’s clearly evidence all over the place including an on-the-record statement from fomer NoW journalist Sean Hoare that his then editor Andy Coulson, now the coalition government’s director of communications, expressly asked him to obtain such information. That Hoare is said to have had drink and drug problems before his dismissal from the NoW is neither here not there. He’s either right or he isn’t.
A further criticism of the police is its extraordinarily narrow investigation in the NoW. Once former correspondent Clive Goodman and his private eye sidekick Glenn Mulcaire were jailed the investigation closed down. Have Goodman and Mulcaire, who pleaded guilty, told the police all they know?
But a new investigation would surely need to look further than the NoW. It would need to include all Fleet Street titles and not just the tabloids. It seems to have been the case in recent years that these newspapers, and possibly other media companies, were the paymasters for a thriving cottage industry of ‘investigators’ with the knowledge to intercept mobile phone messages.
Even the Guardian, which has led the pack in pursuit of the NoW and Coulson, admits it has used the services of these people from time to time although it hasn’t said for what.
As for David Cameron’s chief spinner Coulson the future is looking rather bleak. Virtually nobody believes his assertion that he knew absolutely nothing about the hacking activities of his reporters before his resignation as editor in 2007.
And what about Les Hinton, long-time Rupert Murdoch sidekick at News Corporation who told a Parliamentary committee that he knew nothing about it either. Or former Sun editor (and Coulson’s predecessor at the NoW) Rebbekah Wade who now runs all the Murdoch newspapers in the UK?
Mr Yates and his boys in blue may be pretty busy over the next few months.