Met chief and MP go head-to-head over phone-hacking

Yates: Bryant 'materially wrong'
Yates: Bryant 'materially wrong'

By politics.co.uk staff

A senior police officer went toe-to-toe with one of the MPs leading the charge against phone-hacking in parliament today.

Acting deputy commissioner John Yates appeared in front of the home affairs committee just half an hour after Labour MP and former Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant, who has become one of the central cheerleaders for a tougher investigation into the allegations of phone hacking by News of the World.

Mr Bryant accused Mr Yates of providing "disingenuous" evidence to MPs


"It was disingenuous in the extreme to say there were only a few victims because how could he have possibly known, he hadn't bothered to look at the evidence," the MP claimed.

Mr Bryant alluded to a Scotland Yard cover-up, citing the readiness with which the Met discarded extra evidence when it was made public, its insistence that there were only eight to 12 victims of phone-hacking when they had evidence suggesting the practise was much more widespread and meetings between senior officers and News Corporation executives.

"In the end my complaint is all this evidence sat there, the police didn't interrogate it for whatever set of reasons, lots of people ended up having a completely false impression," he said.

"There is a real danger that the Met might be perceived to be in collusion with the newspapers we're talking about."

In response, Mr Yates dismissed the claims he "misled" the committee, arguing his evidence had been in keeping with the legal advice provided by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) - which restricted the definition of phone-hacking to intercepting mobile phone messages before they were heard by the intended recipient - until that advice changed last year.

"Mr Bryant made some very serious allegations against my integrity," Mr Yates said. "I'm here to protect my position."

He denied the Labour MP's claim that the police had failed to act on the evidence.

"The only reason this case was reopened was because News International provided more information," Mr Yates said.

But he conceded the original investigation could have done more to contact potential victims of phone-hacking.

"I accept there was some information there, that we should have done more with," he said.

Mr Yates also dismissed claims the police appeared to be in collusion with News International because of their meals together.

"Two people were convicted in a large organisation, to say we can't engage with the rest of that organisation frankly doesn't make sense to me," the acting commissioner said.

"If you look at the broad context of who I've dined with, I've probably dined more with the Guardian than with News International."

It is the second time in the space of a week that Mr Yates has appeared before MPs, after he insisted to the culture, media and sport committee that the Met had not tried to cover up the claims.

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