Sun editor claims could launch new police probe
Rebekah Brooks’s 2003 admission that journalists ‘paid police’ could trigger criminal inquiry
Perhaps chastened by criticism of their initial investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking case, the Metropolitan Police suddenly appears to have ordered a crackdown on all unscrupulous journalistic practises.
The force's assistant commander Cressida Dick said a criminal investigation could be launched into claims that journalists paid police officers for information, following comments by Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the News of the World and the Sun.
Brooks, now the chief executive of News International, told a House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee in 2003, two months after she left the NoW to take the Sun job, that journalists "had paid police for information in the past".
Her statement did not go unnoticed, even though it was not until earlier this year that an inquiry was launched by the home affairs committee. When committee chairman, Keith Vaz, asked Brooks to explain herself, she responded: "If... I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention."
However, Cressida Dick has now written to MPs telling them that the Met is planning "a scoping exercise to establish whether there are now any grounds for beginning a criminal investigation".
That is the last thing that News International needs. A week ago they were forced to admit liability in the phone hacking scandal and offered an unreserved apology to many of the public figures whose phones were illegally accessed.
Today, a judge ruled that four test cases for alleged victims of hacking by the News of the World should go ahead later in the year. Mr Justice Vos said they could include actress Sienna Miller, who has already been offered a £100,000 settlement.
The Met was also made to look bad. After an initial investigation into phone hacking resulted in jail terms for the paper's royal editor Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire in 2007, the force concluded that the practice was not widespread and that Goodman was working alone. Subsequent events have proved them badly wrong. ·
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