I had a fascinating return to City Hall today after a busy month of Westminster work, just in time to catch the cops trying to save face.
The Metropolitan Police Authority heard today from MPS bosses about the ongoing pandemonium relating to the alleged widespread hacking of phones by the News of the World.
In short, investigations ended when two blokes were caught snooping on the Royal Family, but they have started again because everyone else thinks they have been hacked.
Senior officers spoke at length about the timeline of investigation since 2005, but despite saying that the Met was open to criticism it was made clear they believe they have not been at fault for any lack of progress in the last five years.
They have been very quick to blame the Crown Prosecution Service for no further prosecutions saying that they had presented them with evidence, but they thought it was rubbish.
Assistant Commissioner John Yates clearly thinks this could make his career (he is tipped to be a future Met commissioner) and he came out all guns blazing.
During the meeting Yates said that the first investigation had led to the imprisonment of two people and that it had also dealt fully with the next fresh allegations in late 2009.
But said that: “The CPS’ view was that the it was well short of admissible evidence.” But rather than an acceptance of mistakes at their end this is clearly just passing the buck, a kind of we did our bit.
He also attacked previous articles in the Guardian claiming they had revealed unseen evidence, saying: “There wasn’t anything new in those articles. It was new to the media but it wasn’t new to us.”
But he was forced to admit that they will have to go through all the lists of those suspected of being hacked to check they have been told they were at risk.
That means they know they haven’t done that but there was also no apology for that.
“We have always said that if new evidence comes to light we will consider it and that is exactly what we have done,” he added.
Politicians attacked the Met over their handling of the case, and called for the investigation to be taken out of its hands and given to another force or body.
Dee Doocey, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly policing spokeswoman said: “Given the widespread perception that the Met didn’t give the inquiry into allegations about widespread phone hacking the priority it deserves, and that their investigation was not as thorough as it might have been, even the most thorough internal investigation by the Met will not restore public confidence
“Justice must be done and seen to be done and that must mean a totally independent inquiry into the Met’s record in investigating these crimes over the last four years.”
But this was just batted away by acting Commissioner Tim Godwin, who said: “We will be very robust and it will be under scrutiny as it should be. It will restore confidence in victims who feel they have not been given a service.
“It will be with no stone unturned. We have some of the most skilled investigators in the country and you will be proud of what they do.”
I think that this is going to come back and bite the Met badly, just saying.