Follow all the twists and turns of another dramatic day in Westminster with politics.co.uk's live phone-hacking blog.
By Ian Dunt Follow @IanDunt
10:21 - Good morning and welcome to what will probably be another exhausting day in Westminster. It's been over a week now, and the developments are coming from all directions. The highlights today are the Gordon Brown interview and the appearance of three key police officers in front of the home affairs committee. We've got Andy Hayman, who failed to execute the first investigation into phone-hacking properly. Then it's Sue Akers, who is conducting the present Operation Weeting to very high standards, we're told, and finally John Yates, whose career is dangling by a string. His phone-hacking performance can be described, at best, as staggerlingly inept. A letter to Keith Vaz, chair of the committee, laid out his defence plan, so we'll look at that in a moment.
10:27 - So here's the thing. Yates appeared out of Scotland Yard in 2009, a few hours after being asked to look into revelations from the Guardian about phone-hacking. I was there while he stood outside the station and insisted nothing new had been revealed. That seemed funny to us, because the newspaper seemed to have documented systemic phone-hacking at News of the World really rather well. Yates now insists that he had not been asked to review the original investigation. He has been asked to "establish the facts around the case and to consider whether there (was) anything new arising in the Guardian article". So basically, he was tasked with reading a Guardian article. At that point he agreed with what the Guardian itself said: there was no new evidence. The whole point was that all the evidence was already held by police and they had failed to look into it.
10:34 - Yates' argument is that the current bout of scandal relates to evidence handed to the police by News International at the start of the year. This is what he told the Sunday Telegraph this weekend: "If I knew then what I know now, it would have been professionally crazy not to [reopen the investigation]. The only reason you now have a new investigation is because News of the World produced new material and new evidence that only happened in January this year." The problem with all this is that the 2009 Guardian story made it perfectly obvious that there was good reason to suppose that there had been thousands of victims of phone-hacking, given the range of names in the notes of Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective at the heart of the revelations. Yates knew those notes were in three bin bags held by police but it wasn't until later - way after his decision not to re-open the case - that he had the names uploaded to computer so they could be assessed by police.
10:43 - Finally on Yates: There has been some controversy over exactly what phone-hacking is. Yates once told parliament that he had been given the definition of the crime by the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer. That was: the voice mail needed to have been intercepted before the intended recipient heard it for it to count as a crime. Then something funny happened. Starmer decided to write to MPs himself saying that that advice was inaccurate, it hadn't been given, and phone-hacking charges could apply even if the message had already been heard by the intended recipient. The two had a minor public war of words and then kissed and made up in a press statement stressing the need for them to work together. It was all rather odd but a bit too convuluted for mainstream coverage at the time. Now, it seems more important.
10:55 - The session starts at 11:00, but before the meaty stuff we've got evidence on 'police response to antisocial behaviour'and the 'new landscape of policing'. I don't know about you, but whenever I hear the word 'landscape' in a non-literal context it makes me want to discard the trappings of western culture and live in the desert somewhere. We'll be skipping those bits and joining the session at around 11:30, when the phone-hacking section begins. In the mean time, I must direct you to Jon Stewart's Daily Show's bit on phone-hacking. If you want all the information on that Gordon Brown interview, read our news story here. There's also our parliamentary sketch of yesterday foxhunt, sorry, parliamentary debate, where the media secretary comes face to face with the concept of public humiliation.
11:15 - Journalists are struggling to get into the room where the hearing is taking place. Worry not your pretty head, however, as politics.co.uk's inimitable Alex Stevenson made his way in some time ago. He has a particularly high pain threshold for tedious political rhetoric so he'll ably survive the current boredom while we wait for the savagery to start. There are reports on Twitter, completely unconfirmed, that TheSunOnSunday.co.uk just changed hands from 'Mediaspring' to 'News International'. I'll verify that if I can.
11:22 - The former head of the Met, Lord Blair (distastefully close to Ken, fell out with Boris) is currently chatting to the committee. I can't see him escaping without being asked at least one question by Keith Vaz (chairman, softly spoken, never knowingly sincere). Former Home Office minister David Hanson just sat down in the room. More worryingly for Yates, Tom Watson, the scourge of phone-hackers everywhere, has just taken a front row seat. Deary me. His glowering, tremendous face is hardly going to put the assistant commissioner at ease. On the other hand, home secretary Theresa May has just said Yates has her confidence, so I'm sure he's tremendously reassured. Oh, Chris Bryant just walked in. Have they brought weapons? It'll be a bloodbath.
11:29 - As if on cue, Vaz asks Blair about phonehacking. Was he hacked. He doesn't think so, although his details were found. Blair resists the idea that he commissioned the original inquiry. Odd. "I don't think I can help the committee very much," he says, unconvincingly and with a hint of desperation. "It was not a major issue at the time and never during my period of office did it become a major issue." Did anyone come to you and says they were done with the investigation? Blair: "I don't want to sound too dismissive of this but it was a fragmentary event." He says it was drowned out due to concerns about terrorism (this is 2005). Vaz says Blair had no concerns about the original inquiry. Blair accepts that. David Winnick says that as head of the Met he had some responsibility. Blair says he has "accountability". He goes on: "What you can't be is responsible for every single item of investigation in the Metropolitan Police." He's reminded that that fact is precisely the problem. Winnick tells him that Bryant was in contact with the Met in 2004. "What surprises me is, if not the dismissive attitude, then the attitude you have just taken." Blair replies: "It was not seen as terribly significant. By me. I have been responsible for a vast number of things but I did not know and could not be expected to know the details of that inquiry."
11:35 - He's getting more and more edgy as the questions continue. Vaz wants to move on to new witnesses. Blair says he can't answer a question about how many of his officers took money from a news outlet. Blair is told: "You were in charge of this. Do you have no reflection at all on the high levels of seeming corruption that there was." Blair tries to play it down, saying just five people are really accused of corruption. He says he was determined to stamp out corruption. Next question. Surely you knew there were bags of evidence. Why didn't anyone look at them. He says the commissioner would not know that. Blair furiously trying to distance himself from the questions, saying he couldn't have known and they should ask people who were in charge of the operations. His complancency is absolutely staggering. Really quite affecting. It's an appaling and shifty performance from Blair. "We are now dealing with the perfect glare of hindsight. You have to see this is the context of how you do a job in extraordinary circumstances." He's asked, for the last question, if he feels any responsibility or not. "Of course I'm fully accountable," he answers. "Were mistakes made? Apparently they were and I'm accountable for that. Could I have known. I don't think I could." What were the mistakes? "All I can say is that if material was available at the time which showed industrial level hacking it would have been apropriate to go further than just dealing with two people."
11:41 - And we're off. An MP says there are allegations that some witnesses are accused of giving false evidence to the committee. Vaz says it could be considered a contempt of the House. That's about as bad a start as Yates could have expected. They might as well have brandished a knife. Yates asks if he can make a very short opening statement. "I am very grateful to you for the oppourtunity to appear before you again. I know... concerns have been voiced about the interview I gave to the Sunday Telegraph," he says. he runs through what he said in the interview. "I can assure you all I have never lied and all the information i've provided to this committee and others has been made in good faith." The Telegraph article reflects his views. He can't speak for the first investigation. "I also reiterate that it's a matter of great concern that for whatever reason the NOTW failed to cooperate in the way we now know they should have with police inquiries." The new information only came more recently. Vaz stops him.
11:45 - Vaz quotes from old testimony saying they would tell all victims. Yates says he won't go through the legality of phone-hacking (ie his spat with Starmer). He is quickly shut up by Vaz. "We would like quick answers," Vaz insists. Bit of menace there. He quotes from his Telegraph interview, saying the original investigation was "crap". Who is the apology for today? The victims, the family of Milly Dowler? Parliament? Ouch. Yates says he regrets not doing enough for those potentially affected by phone-hcking. "If I'm found out to be wrong and have made an errror I'll hold my hand up." But that doesn't mean he will take responsibilty for what News International (NI) did not do. Vaz says that's clear. Vaz asks what Sir Paul Stephenson asked him to do when asked to establish the facts following the 2009 Guardian article. Yates insists there was no need for further investigation. "Hindsight is a great gift," he says. Laughable. We were appaled at the time when he came out and shut it down.
11:50 - Yates is asked why he won't take responsibility. "You expect wrongdoers to co-operate with inquries?" he's asked. Yates quotes from NI promising that they would help, a fact which does not really help him. Vaz starts tearing him up, saying that they are discussing his conduct, not NI's conduct. He prevents him quoting from their letters. "This is about you, this is about policing. Why did you not properly review the evidence sitting in bags in Scotland Yard?" he is asked. Yates insists there was nothing in the Guardian article justifying the investment of resources in unpacking all that evidence. "There was nothing in that article in 2009 that said: 'that is new'. We knew about that. SO what would persuade me in the absence of new evidence?"
11:54 - Yates is asked if he's ever been contacted by NI about his private life. He says the Standard article on that subject was quickly taken down at his request. He's reminded that he threatened to sue Bryant over claims he was inaccurate in speaking to the committee. Yates now suggests he was inadvertently inaccurate because he didn't have the information that NI finally released this year. "Every answer I have given to this comittee or other committees were given in good faith in terms of what I knew."
11:58 - Vaz asks Yates to speak up. Really tough grilling here. Yates is asked about his review of the evience. Had he been in social contact with senior people in NI? He admits he had but says the investigation was closed. "During a live investigation under my oversight, no I haven't." He is told that it's surprising than a senior officer would engage with those being investigated. Yates admits there are corrupt people in the Met - we know that. Does that mean you don't engage at all with NI. Vaz mentions a new York Times article alleging that he was put under pressure by NI due to his personal life. Yates categorically states that it is untrue. He says that it has previously been suggested to him that he'd been phonehacked. Yates admits it has. Vaz prompts laughs by saying his question relates to investigation Yates, which lasted for a day. An MP on the committee tells Yates that she's astounded by the incompetence on display today.
12:03 - Why did he speak to the Telegraph and not offer a press release to all outlets, seeing as he was apologising? He struggles to answer. Yates is reminded that in eight hours he assessed thousands of pieces of evidence. Yates tries to avoid. "I think she wants a yes or no answer," Yates says. He's accused of using smokescreens. This might be the worst day of his life. So far, anyway. Could easily get worse. Yates reminds MP that he was simply to look at the Guardian story. What legal advice did he get? Yates suggests he assessed the previous legal advice. He therefore admits that there was no fresh legal advice at all. "Let's be clear what I was asked to do,"he says. "I was asked to establish if there was anything new in that Guardian article." Senior people in his department said there was no need for further investigation. Vaz quotes from Stephenson saying he wanted him to look into "the facts and detail". Damning stuff. Yates is really struggling under pressure. Tense atmosphere.
12:07 - The room laughs at Yates as he's asked why he was convinced that someone didn't do something because they said so. "There's one room for corporations and another for other people accused of criminal acts," he is told. Why was he so robust in cash-for-honours and not phone-hacking? He says it was a matter of following the evidence. They only got the material from NI this year. This is nonsense. In his own answers he's admitted the existence of three bin bags full of evidence. His defence is paper-thin. It really will have to improve or he's in serious trouble. Vaz asks Yates about Gordon Brown. He is handed a list of names of people hacked. He looks through it and smirks when he finds his own name there. He admits he's never seen the list before. On Twitter, I see that NI has just said the Brown story about his son came from a family friend.
12:13 - Did Yates talk to Hayman and Clarke about the original investigation? No, although he looked at the decision logs. I'm hearing that Credit-Suisse are saying the BSKyB deal is basically dead, with a bare ten per cent chance of survival. Back to the committee room. Our correspondent tweets: "Yates is playing a politician's game, qualifying and hedging his admissions - but doing so with all the subtlety of a Met policing op." Yates is asked about the bin bags of evidence from Mulcaire. Yates insists it was individually considered and reviewed. Yates tries to send it back to Hayman as it wasn't on his watch. "It had been reviewed for evidence by council during the original investigation." Yates admits he doesn't know what was in the 11,000 pages. Laughs in the room. It's an absolute car crash.
12:21 - "You just don't sound like the dogged determined sleuth we would expect," Yates is told by Steve McCabe. More laughter. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger tweets: "Yates had lunch with NOTW former depty editor in Feb 2011 within days of new investigation." Yates insists that he always says there were thousands who could have been affected by Mulcaire. Yates is asked if he thinks he damaged the Met through his behaviour. He relies again on the 'if I'd known then what I know now' defence. he refuses to accept that his bahaviour damaged the Met. "Do I wish we could turn the clock back and have the material from NI? Yes I do," he answers. Vaz asks if he has continued his position. S'lence in the room. "I haven't offered to resign," he answers. And if you're suggesting I should resign for what NOTW has done and my very small part in it I think that's unfair."
12:26 - Yates says it's "amazing" to be asked if he's ever been paid by NI and says he hasn't. He admits it's "highly probably" that some police accepted payments. Was he ever part of discussions about avoiding upsetting NI. He says no, and no record of such conversations will ever be found. He is asked if vetting procedures have to be improved. Yates says the Met has improved anti-corruption procedures as it is. They will always learn from different investigations. What is he doing to restore public trust in the police. He says "regret is a good start." An MP takes that as a chance to attack. "Looking at the scale of the wrongdoing that has been revealed, how do you think the public should feel about this." Yates said they should feel "reassured" the Met has invested in a new investigation. They literally laugh in his face at the use of thre word 'reassured'. Can he survive this sort of humiliation. Yates is asked if he can continue in his position, if there is confidence in him from the Met and the public. "I passionately believe in doing the right thing," he says. Who exactly doesn't believe in that, I wonder. He's asked what share of responsibility should be borne by the CPS. Yates says there is collective responsibility. "Operational decisions are for the police alone, however," he adds. He's asked about his conscience. How is it exactly. Yates insists: "If you can't be allowed to make some mistakes in the course of your career that's a sorry state of affairs". Does he regret saying there were few victims. Was it right to be so categorical given he hadn't heard the evidence. "I just went with the legal advice," he says. Remember: That was legal advice from the previous inquiry, so it's as sad an anwer as you will ever hear.
12:33 - Vaz tells Yates his evidence is "unconvincing". He adds: "There are more questions to be asked. You may well be asked to come here again."
12:39 - We're now listening to the head of anti-terror at the Met, Peter Clarke. He was Hayman's underling, basically. He's asked how someone with his job description could have ignore evidence showing the chancellor of the exchaquer was being phone-hacked. Clarke insists he doesn't know whether Brown was hacked. He refuses to say that he's proud of his inquiry. He shares the shock of everyone at "the depths the media seems to have sunk". He tells the committee how appalled he was by the Dowler revelations. He says NI was not co-opeerative. If they had been we wouldn't be here today.
12:43 - He starts reading out a timeline. We start with the two arrests over hacking of royal voicemail in 2005. He was advised that the criminal law required the message being intercepted before access by the intended recipient (narrow definition). After that the Met corresponded with NI's lawyers and they asked for details of what Mulcaire did for the NOTW. In 2006 a Met letter said it wanted details of all persons involved. NI said it wanted to help but "the material to which we were entitled was limited". They therefore recieved little and they could not get enough evidence to expand the investigation out further. They seized about 11,000 pages. The operation decided against an "exhaustive analysis" of the material.
12:47 - Basically, they were busy with terrorism. A privacy case didn't justify the expanse. After the arrests a strategy was put in place to inform victims. Police informed some, the phone companies others. That's spectacular folly, given the phone companies insist they were asking the Met to inform customers. The home affairs committee has seen so many witnesses contradict each other its members must be losing their mind. He reminds MPs of the terror situation at the time and why this was hardly at the top of the agenda. There was just no certainty of securing convictions in untested cases, due to the new nature of the legislation. He insists that officers from the original investigation are excited to explain how they went about their job. Clarke handles this well, much better than Yates. It won't save him.
12:52 - Vaz is asked if he ever recieved hospitality from NI. He says that there were occassional meetings with Crime Reporters Association - that's it. It's all media-wide, not restricted to NI. Clarke is told his evidence was "hard to accept". In normal proceedings, surely they follow up a further crime once one is discovered. Clarke insists this crime is of "an entirely different category". It's like fraud, he says. "You do put parametres around investigations, it;s completely normal." The first thing they saw was offending around the royal household so that's what they pursued. He admits that he suspected it went further but again he says "lies" from NI hindered the investigation and that they couldn't justify the expense in terms of time and labour. Clarke is told it was "a catastrophic decision" that he took. He allowed the spying to continue untouched. "The evil we were trying to investigate and then stop was illicite access to people's voicemails," he argues. That stopped in 2006 due to police action. Vaz says the phone companies were very critical of the Met. They were waiting to inform victims and the Met never told them to do so. Here's the story if you want to see what they said at the time.
12:59 - Vaz: "Wouldn't you ask your team whether they'd read all the evidence before closing the file?" Clarke: "Not necessarily, no". This just in. The culture media and sport select committee will be summoning Rupert and James Murdoch, and Rebekah Brooks to appear before them.
13:01 - Asked if he suspected NI of hiding something. "Suspected? I was as certain as could be that they had something to hide," he replies. This is a sad day for British policing. What his assessment relies on is that a corporation can simply ignore a police investigation in a way that an individual cannot. And that's the best case scenario. The worst (more likely) is that the Met decided not to pursue it further out of fear of NI.
13:06 - Clarke admits he had no contact with the DPP. One MP says Clarke has been very straight with the committee, a view I'm not sure is shared by all his colleagues. He is asked if he was conducting any other investigations at the time. No, he had oversight of about 70. He refuses to place a rank on it. It didn't compete with an investigation where there is a threat to the public. Twitter has obviously gone completely mad over the news that the Murdochs will be summoned to appear before the media committee on Tuesday. Usually you can't force someone to attend but there's a rumour of a summons power being used. I'll look into it once this committee session is over. And, um, after I've had some lunch.
13:13 - Clarke is asked if he could have passed the investigation on. He had only been given it, after all, because of the Buckingham Palace angle, which had then disappeared. He says it was unrealistic and unreasonable to go to another department and ask them to analyse the material. "I know this sounds trite, but it would have been a very difficult request to have made of colleagues," he says. Vaz says he accepts his integrity but: "We remain puzzled that this information was not properly analysed." He adds: "You seem to be quite defensive. What is your reason for your regret." Clarke says that victims of crime had to suffer more... Vaz says that was a resuult of something they didn't do. He says if only his victim strategy had worked, it wouldn't have happened. He can't be happy at the treatment of the material in their position. Hayman is up. This will be serious.
13:20 - When did Hayman become a columnist for NI? He says he chose the Times after he left his police job. He tries to joke a bit. That's not working at all. "Did it not occur to you that you had actually been investigating NI, albiet in an oversight role?" Vaz asks. "Did it not occur to you that this was perhaps not the best decision of your life especially as we've now heard they were most uncooperative?"
13:22 - He says they slaughtered him on their front page before, so there was no love lost but he met the editor and deputy editor, didn't know them, and got on with it. "Any hint of being in their back pocket is unfounded and I refute that."
13:24 - He's asked if would consider giving up the column given current events. He says he would only discuss that with NI. Vaz makes mince meat out of him. Is it true he had private dinners with NI during the investigation. Hayman says he absolutely did. He also had national responsibility for Acpo so he continued with that role. "They were businesslike, I was never on my own," he says. He put this information out in the public domain. He's asked if he raised the fact they were uncooperative in the investigation he had overisight on. Hayman says "it was quite strange". They hadn't shown any obstruction at all. He seems to contradict Clarke's and Yates' comment.
13:27 - Vaz suggests they didn't pursue the investigation because they had dirt on him. Hayman says it's a "grubby" allegation. He has no idea if his phone was hacked. He has no idea if he's on the list. "If I am - I have nothing to hide at all." Vaz: "All of this sounds more like Clouseau than Columbo." He mocks Hayman for having dinners with people he doesn't know are being investigated. Hayman is asked how it looks that he now works for NI. "It could look bad," he starts. Laughter. "I can't think of anything, anything, where the lines been crossed or I've done anything wrong, as a result".
13:31 - Hayman is asked if it doesn't appear questionable that he, a policeman who wanted to be a journalist, was in charge of a sloppy police operation about journalism. "Don't beat me up because I've been honest about it," he replies. Calling him odd doesn't even cover it. It's like chatting about phone-hacking with a cabby. 'Not me guv," is the executive summary of what's been said here. He fights off efforts at a firm timeline. He accepts however that there was an occassion that he may have gone for dinner during the investigation. He says there's no way he would ever disclose anything. "You accepted hospitality with people who are being investigated," he is told. "Yeah," he replies. Remarkable. He discussed this with someone but he can't remember the name - Dick Vodecho (something like that). He says that to not have the dinner would have been more suspicious than having it. Laughter. "I don't know why you're laughing," he says, suddenly angry. He refuses to accept that he would ever discuss police tactics during the meeting.
13:36 - "Many people must come to the conclusion that your inquiry was not strong in any way, was not meant to be strong and you should apologise for what occured," Hayman is told.
13:38 - Hayman is told that talking to him is like "falling through the rabbit hole". Why was there no exhaustive analysis of the evidence? What was his role? Hayman: "I had no involvement in that decision at all. There were people who went through it but they went through it in the parametres involved in the investigation (ie royal household related only)." This is shocking. You have to give him credit for being straightforward. He hasn't opted for any of the administrative phrases people often use to muddy the water. Hayman doesn't seem to recognise the quotes that are being read out in his name. Does he regret not assessing the evidence. Hayman says it's "a horror story".
13:42 - MPs enjoy messing Hayman up, citing his attack on Lord Prescott's judicial review. Hayman apologises for what he said. He's told that the public will see him as a "dodgy geezer". he says that police did everything possible given the parametres and resources of the time. "Right now, it looks very lame," he admits. He rejects the idea it was a disaster. "At that time it was proportionate," he responds. Will he apologise? "I want to be sure that when I stand there I'm apologising for something I've done wrong.. I personally or someone in my team," he answers. He is told that two years ago one of his columns argued that the NOTW investigation was not half-hearted at all. Quoted at length, the quote sees him say that other cases weren't investigated because there was no evidence. Amazing.
13: 48 - Was he told the names of other individuals who had been hacked into at the time? No. Astonishment from MPs. That list of names contained the leading political and cultural figures in the country. What were the names he was presented with? He can't remember. "In fact I probably didn't pay much attention to it," he says. He is asked, what if someone in his role was not acting legitimately in dealing with NI? How can he convince the committee? "You can speculate all you want about motive but you've got to be able to show someone can turn motive into outcome," he says. Spoken like a true copper.
13:52 - Will he accept the failure of the original police investigation? What does he have to say to the victims? He says it's "appalling". It's a matter of absoilute regret... I do apologise." He is asked if he ever received payments as a police officer. "Absolutely not. I'm not letting you get away with that. Mr Chairman that's not fair." Extraordinary scenes. Vaz tries to restore order. "Members of this committee are allowed to ask any question they wish."
13:55 - Vaz says that he usually summarises witness testimony but in this case it speaks for itself. We're now on the final witness, Sue Akers, the head of current Operation Weeting. This operation, by the way, is widely respected and considered very thorough. She wants to refer to the document of alleged phone hack victims, recieved from the Guardian. She says it contains inaccuracies. Vaz asks why Operation Weeting was set up. She said the catalyst was the civil actions brought by individuals. She speaks slowly, carefully and sternly. She confirms there around 55 officers working for it.
13:58 - Vaz asks about the bin bag evidence. She says she does, plus additional material gathered since they started Weeting in January. She offers to enlarge on her approach to the victim strategy. She took a pragmatic approach. Regardless of criminal law definition, she treated people who suspected they were hacked in the same way as people who meet the strict criteria. Ah, that's interesting. She treated people who had already heard the messages before they were intercepted just like those who hadn't because the violation of privacy was the same. Basically, she invented criminal law on the spot, as long as the court later backs it. Those who left messages on hacked phone were also treated as victims. Evidently this is extremely broad. She had a list of names from the phone companies. Her team and the phone companies are coming to a definitive list. "We're nearly at the list where we will have compiled [the list]," she says.
14:04 - Laura Kunsberg from the BBC has just tweeted that News Corp are announcing a $5 billion share buy back. Extraordinary. Back in the committee room, Akers is explaining her relationship with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which eventually turned into a seperate investigation. Akers, by the way, is like some living embodiment of feminist theory. She is competant and reliable in precisely the ways in which the three men who preceeded her were intolerable.
14:10 - What level of support is she getting from NI? "When we started all our dealings were through laywers. It was diffficult. We spent some two months agreeing a protocol. I held a meeting at which for the first time two NI executives attended to debate our very different interpretations of the term 'full cooperation'. Subsequent to that meeting relations have been much better. We're experiencing an altogether different feel." Interesting. Told you she was stern. I'm hearing that Labour motion tomorrow will be changed so that it demands that Rupert Murdoch cancel his bid for BSkyB. It originally demanded that the case be sent to the Competition Committee, but that's been made irrelevant by Murdoch's actions yesterday.
14:14 - Akers commends the people following civil cases and the campaigning journalists who followed this story. "There must be people sitting on alot of material and I must say please, if you have anything that might support my investigation, now would be a good time." Vaz says she should get in contact with Watson and Bryant. She says given the media coverage there must be more information to come out. It is suggested to her that the stories could be coming from the police. She says with absolute confidence that there is more to it. They did not know that victims of the 7/7 bombings had been targeted for instance. It appears that former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell has demanded the resignation of Yates. Meanwhile, Murdoch's move seems to have stemmed the slide of his shares. They're now up five per cent in pre-market trading.
14:19 - My word. Just 170 people have been contacted so far about phone hacking out of a document that includes 3870 names, 5000 landlines and 4000 mobiles. Vaz asks how much damage has been done to the Met by all this. She says confidence has been damaged. "I don't doubt if we don't get this right it will continue to be damaged," she says. "I hope I don't have to come back here in five years time to explain why we failed." She continues: "I haven't ever experienced an inqury quite like this. I guarantee it will be a thorough inquiry." One MP says: "We accept your guarantee." Then, ominously, Vaz adds: "Shall we book the date in five years time to discuss it?"
14:24 - And with that, the session comes to an end. News reports are suggesting that Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron will meet tonight to discuss the scandal. OK, we're going to take a quick break while I shove some food down my mouth and clean up all these typos, then we'll be back on to bring you all the developments as they happen.
15:35 - Hello again. Click here for our latest news story on the political battles being prepared in Westminster to take on Murdoch. I've just had a chat with the clerk of the culture, media and sport committee to ask about this summoning malarky. Basically, if you're a non-UK citizen they've little chance of getting you. There are suggestions that committees may have powers with a territorial application. That would allow them to call a Commonwealth citizen if they were in the UK. Even if true, and no-one seems quite sure, it wouldn't apply to Pappa Murdoch because he's taken American citizenship. So Rebekah Wade is the one who must bend to their will. Officials say that if an invitation is refused a formal summons is made by the sergeant at arms... or post. If you ignore that a report is made to the House, it would proceed to the standard and privaliges committee and after that, right at the end of the road, it could result in contempt of parliament. Trouble is, that's not actually a criminal offence so you can't imagine it causing anyone too many sleepless nights, unless they're an MP of course. It's plain the committee isn't going to get the Murdochs and Brooks in to see them on threat of penalty. The real decision will come down to the political implications. Non-attendance would confirm MPs' worst suspicions, namely that the empire is trying to maintain power without responsibility or accountability. But actually going could see them get into all sorts of problems if they don't have the facts properly sorted, or even if their demeanour is considered arrogant. It's a hard call to make and impossible to know which way they'll go.
16:08 -The PM's spokesman has confirmed the government will support Labour's motion on the BSkyB bid. Jeremy Hunt won't be voting.
16:29 - You can read our news coverage of the police evidence session here and our correspondent's sketch of the event here.
16:34 - Well Yvette Cooper has issued her angry response to the police session in a long statement to the press. It's tedious and repetitive, but here are the bearable bits. "Today’s committee evidence shows the urgency of establishing the public inquiry straight away and extending its remit too. Whilst the focus so far has rightly been on allegations of criminal and immoral actions by the News of the World and private investigators, the police themselves have recognised that they must answer questions too. The home secretary, who has remained very silent on this, should be talking to senior police officers across the country about how to take this forward to respond to public concerns, and make sure this could never happen again." Interesting point about May - haven't seen anything from her since this thing broke out. She is the home secretary, one would have expected at least a statement.
16:46 - Well we have some idea where she was today, at least. Publishing a new counter-terrorism strategy document on the cyber-security threat from cloud computing. Westminster is buzzing with lots of good noise for Ed Miliband, who's rightfully getting the credit for tomorrow's vote. Given that Cameron argued passionately against stepping in last week, the fact that he's now getting his MPs to vote against the deal is pretty accomplished politics on Miliband's part. Unfortunately it sort of makes tomorrow's debate a non-event. With all three main parties on board it's game, set and match really. It'll be interesting to see how strident MPs are in their comments against Murdoch, though. Tomorrow will see parliament officially turn against Murdoch, so regardless of how little doubt there is, it's still an important moment.
17:03 - OK, big news (if true). The BBC's Michael Crick is saying that Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks will appear before the media committee on Tuesday. That basically turns next Tuesday into serious political theatre territory. It'll be an absoute corker. And with that we'll leave you for today. This was probably the quietest day since the scandal began, so it was just four to five times more hectic than a normal newsday. Is it getting better? No. This thing won't die down until halfway through next week at the earliest. I'll be back tomorrow morning with the blog, covering PMQS, the debate on BSkyB and any other breaking developments. See you then