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Newspapers: Surveillance Methods

Volume 712: debated on Tuesday 14 July 2009


My honourable friend the Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Counter-Terrorism (David Hanson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In response to the Urgent Question on 9 July 2009 by the honourable Member for Oxford West and Abingdon (Evan Harris), I undertook to report back to the House at an appropriate time.

Since that Urgent Question was answered, Assistant Commissioner John Yates has made a public statement on 9 July about the original inquiry by the Metropolitan Police Service into the alleged unlawful tapping of mobile phones by Mr Clive Goodman and Mr Glen Mulcaire. I am placing the text of Assistant Commissioner Yate’s statement in the Library of the House.

He has concluded that as no additional evidence has come to light in respect of the Goodman/Mulcaire case and as the Metropolitan Police Service has not formally received allegations in relation to the activities of any other journalists there is no need for a further investigation.

The Metropolitan Police has also confirmed that it does not consider that there is anything else substantive in relation to additional evidence or information that would justify it reopening the original investigation. Neither has the Guardian approached the MPS with any new additional evidence.

As mentioned in his statement on 9 July, Assistant Commissioner John Yates is ensuring that the Metropolitan Police Service has been diligent, reasonable and sensible, and taken all proper steps to ensure that where it has evidence that people have been the subject of any form of phone tapping (by Mr Clive Goodman or Mr Glen Mulcaire) or that there is any suspicion that they might have been, that they have been informed. The decision to inform individuals that they have been targeted for illegal interception of their phone communications is an operational matter for the police.

Following his statement, and in view of comments which had been made in both Houses following last week’s newspaper articles, the director-general of the Crime and Policing Group in the Home Office wrote seeking clarification on some issues to Assistant Commissioner John Yates on 10 July who responded the same day. I am placing copies of that correspondence in the Library of the House.

The Director of Public Prosecutions announced on 9 July an urgent examination of the material supplied by the police three years ago to satisfy himself and assure the public that the appropriate actions were taken in relation to that material. That review continues.

The Information Commissioner’s Office will consider what action to take if evidence emerges of breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has received a complaint from the honourable Member for Eastleigh about police action in this case and is currently considering whether there are any issues raised which might fall within its remit.

Any new evidence should be referred to the police or to the Information Commissioner if it relates to a data protection breach.

The Government will report back to the House when there are any substantive developments.