I failed to probe phone hacking: British cop

July 10th, 2011 - 2:18 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 10 (IANS) A senior Scotland Yard official has said his failure to fully investigate into the News of the World phone hacking scandal damaged the reputation of the British policing agency.

The tabloid is accused of hacking into phones of crime victims, celebrities and politicians. Police identified 4,000 possible targets, leading to owner Rupert Murdoch ordering its closure.

Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates told The Sunday Telegraph that senior executives at the Murdoch-owned News International failed to cooperate with the original Scotland Yard inquiry that began in 2005.

In January 2007, News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were both jailed for plotting to intercept voice mail messages.

Mulcaire had allegedly hacked into teenage murder victim Milly Dowler’s mobile phone and then deleted messages.

The newspaper, however, covered up its phone hacking operation, insisting that one “rogue reporter” was to blame.

Milly Dowler’s details and those of other alleged phone hacking victims were contained in 11,000 pages of material seized by police when Mulcaire was arrested in 2006.

In July 2009, Yates was asked by the Metropolitan police commissioner to look at the case again, after there were growing concerns about the hacking.

He consulted other senior detectives and prosecution lawyers and concluded that there was no fresh material that could lead to further convictions.

“I didn’t do a review. Had I known then what I know now - all bets are off: I would never have reached this conclusion. I am accountable and it happened on my watch and it’s clear I could have done more.”

The decision not to reopen the probe had been “a pretty crap one”, he said.

“I have regrettably said the initial inquiry was a success. Clearly now that looks very different,” Yates said. Scotland Yard’s reputation had been “very damaged” by its failures, he added.

“We are all extremely shocked by it and it is a matter of massive regret we didn’t deal with it earlier.”

“I always put the victim first but here I didn’t follow my principle and that is my greatest regret,” he said.

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