Tag Archives: john yates

Select committees: Reaction to appearances by police, the Murdochs and Brooks

The focus on Twitter seemed to be entirely on the appearance of Murdoch and son, Rebekah Brooks and two senior Metropolitan police officers at two parliament select committees yesterday (19 July).

Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates appeared before the home affairs select committee, before Rupert and James Murdoch – and then Rebekah Brooks – came before the culture, media and sport committee.

Below is a Storify to show some of the reaction on Twitter to MPs’ questions and the responses MPs received.

John Yates resignation statement

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner John Yates resigned yesterday (18 July), after being told he would be suspended.

Yates becomes the second casualty in the Metropolitan police in the wake of phone-hacking allegations, after Britain’s top cop Sir Paul Stephenson resigned on Sunday.

The former assistant commissioner yesterday spoke to the media, paying tribute to the staff he served with:

It is with great regret that I make this decision after nearly 30 years as a police officer.

I wish to pay tribute to the many fine officers and police staff with whom I have served. I will miss them hugely, but I know that they will continue to do their utmost to protect the public and, of course, this great capital city.

Yates said that police, especially those in the “difficult” jobs, must be accountable:

When we get things wrong, we say so and try and put them right. As I have said very recently, it is a matter of great personal regret that those potentially affected by phone hacking were not dealt with appropriately.

He added that with the upcoming Olympic games, he could not allow the “situation” continue, claiming that a “huge amount of inaccurate, ill-informed, and malicious gossip” had been published about him.

I have acted with complete integrity and my conscience is clear. I look forward to the future Judge-led inquiry where my role will be examined in a proper and calmer environment and where my actions will be judged on the evidence rather than on innuendo and speculation as they are at present.

Media Guardian: Rebekah Brooks asked for police payment details

The Guardian has reported that News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been asked by the chair of the home affairs select committee to provide details of payments allegedly made to police officers.

This follows the appearance of John Yates, the acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan police, before the committee on Tuesday, when he said the force’s special crimes directorate is “doing some research” into an admission in 2003 by Brooks, a former News of the World editor, that staff at News International had made payments to the force.

Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the committee, wrote to Brooks on Wednesday asking her for information on how many officers were paid for tips or stories, the amounts they received and when the practice stopped.

Read the full Guardian report here…

Parliament to quiz MP and senior Met officer over phone-hacking investigation

MP Chris Bryant and acting deputy commissioner for the Metropolitan Police John Yates are due to appear in front of the Home Affairs committee today to answer questions about the Met’s investigation into the News of the World phone-hacking affair.

Earlier this month, Bryant accused Yates of misleading the committee previously in claiming that the number of of phone-hacking victims was between eight and 12.

According to a report by Politics.co.uk, Byrant criticised Yates’ argument that the Crown Prosecution Service’s definition of phone hacking was limited to voicemails intercepted before they were listened to by the intended recipient.

“Yates misled the Committee, whether deliberately or inadvertently. He used an argument that had never been relied on by the CPS or by his own officers so as to suggest that the number of victims was minuscule, whereas in fact we know and he knew that the number of potential victims is and was substantial.”

Last week, appearing before the culture, media and sport select committee, Yates said Bryant was “materially wrong” to accuse him of misleading the committee.

In related news, the Media Guardian reports today that the News of the World’s computers “have retained an archive of potentially damning emails, which hitherto it had claimed had been lost”.

The millions of emails, amounting to half a terabyte of data, could expose executives and reporters involved in hacking the voicemail of public figures, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott, actor Sienna Miller, and former culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

The Guardian reports that MPs on the home affairs select committee are likely to question Yates about these emails later today. You can watch the committee session via Parliament Live TV here.

Phone hacking: new government inquiry launched, PM expected to be quizzed today

The Home Affairs select committee has launched a new inquiry into allegations of phone hacking against the News of the World. The select committee will look at the offences related to unauthorised hacking, how such offences are dealt with and the police’s response.

This will be the second inquiry conducted by MPs following the culture, media and sport select committee’s investigation, which concluded earlier this year with a report condemning “collective amnesia” amongst senior staff at the News of the World. News International argued that the cross-party committee had pursued a political agenda.

The new inquiry has been prompted by claims of fresh evidence against the News of the World and yesterday’s appearance by assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police John Yates in front of the home affairs committee. Yates told the committee that “all reasonable steps” had been taken during the Met’s 2006 investigation of phone hacking to warn individuals when police had reason to believe their phones had been hacked, which he said only applied in the case of 10 to 12 people.

According to the Guardian, Ross Hall, a former employee of the News of the World named in the previous government inquiry, has said he will testify in the phone hacking case. Hall, who is reported to have transcribed hacked voicemail messages for others in the newsroom, told the Guardian he would be willing to speak to Scotland Yard and the new select committee.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to face questions on the affair at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today. To follow updates on the story from Journalism.co.uk, subscribe to this RSS feed.

Solicitor Mark Lewis considering legal action against PCC

Mark Lewis, the solicitor who represented the head of the Professional Footballers Association, Gordon Taylor, in the News International phone hacking case, is considering taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police, the Press Complaints Commission and its chair Peta Buscombe.

In a unexpected addition to her speech at the Society of Editors conference last year, Buscombe cited police claims that Lewis’ evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport select committee was false [also see today’s main news story here]. Lewis, giving evidence to the committee’s inquiry into allegations of widespread phone hacking at News of the World, said detective sergeant Maberly had told him there were 6,000 people  affected by phone hacking – but he was not clear if this was the number of phones, or whether it included the people who left messages on hacked phones.

Following Buscombe’s claims about his evidence, Lewis complained through numerous letters to the PCC. Lewis told Journalism.co.uk at yesterday’s CMS press briefing that his complaint with the PCC and the Met “was not over by a long shot yet” and that he may pursue legal action against both organisations.

When Journalism.co.uk previously contacted the PCC over Lewis’ complaints, the Commission did not wish to comment.

As reported by the Independent on Sunday, Lewis has asked for the police inquiry into phone hacking to be re-opened, headed by someone other than assistant commissioner John Yates – whose phone hacking evidence was today criticised by the CMS committee in its press standards, privacy and libel report.

Full coverage of the CMS report at this link…

The report in full and our page-by-page guide at this link…

Guardian.co.uk: Committee to hear police evidence for NOTW phone hacking inquiry

The Guardian reports that the ‘fallout’ from its revelations in July, about News of the World’s use of phone hacking, will continue.

Next week the Commons culture, media and sport select committee will hear evidence from the information commissioner as well as from John Yates, assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, and detective chief superintendent Philip Williams.

Full story at this link…

Tapping/hacking/blagging – the terminology

Media reports refer to both ‘phone tapping’ and ‘phone hacking’ when discussing the Guardian’s investigation into the use of private investigators by News International journalists.

But what exactly were the PI activities alleged to have taken place at the request of journalists?

Phone hacking. This is the term the Guardian uses in its reports, which includes a number of alleged activities. It reported: “Hacking into messages on mobile phones is covered by the same law which now regulates phone tapping and other forms of covert information-gathering, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, known as RIPA.” There is no public interest defence for breaking this law. Activities alleged by the Guardian include:

  • Hacking into mobile phone voicemail accounts, the crime NOTW journalist Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted for in 2007.
  • Illegal hacking ‘into the mobile phone messages of numerous public ­figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills’.

Guardian tech editor Charles Arthur describes how, in further detail at this link, voicemail hacking can be done very simply – via the four digit pin code.

  • However, new methods could now be in use by PIs (no specific allegations made). Arthur quotes a senior security analyst at McAfee: ‘a number of products [are] out there which claim that they will let you listen to someone’s mobile conversations, forward their SMSs and tell you the numbers they have dialled’.
  • In addition, Arthur reports, ‘it might be feasible to clone the connection between a Bluetooth headset and phone so an eavesdropper could connect to the phone while its owner was briefly out of earshot. A hacker could get numbers and contact information’.

Phone tapping. Assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, John Yates, in his statement yesterday, referred to the Mulcaire and Goodman case. He said:

  • “Our inquiries found that these two men had the ability to illegally intercept mobile phone voice mails, commonly known as phone tapping.”

However, the term ‘tapping’ can also indicate other kinds of interception of communications systems e.g wire tapping / obtaining post. In this BBC Q&A from 2006 it is stated that there are three ways a mobile phone can be tapped:

“This can be done either at the handset, or during the conversation – which is illegal and very expensive – or through the mobile phone company which connects the device.”

Blagging. The Guardian reports that this could include obtaining access to confidential databases, such as telephone accounts, bank records and information held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, which is covered by a different law, the 1998 Data Protection Act: “Section 55 makes it an offence to gain unauthorised access to such data, punishable by a fine. However, unlike RIPA, this offence carries a public interest defence.”

The Guardian reports on a series of ‘dark arts’ methods used by PIs, including:

  • Obtaining ex-directory landlines, tax records, social security files, bank statements, mobile numbers, people’s addresses or people’s phone bills and medical records.
  • Conning BT, the DVLA, mobile phone companies and other organisations into handing over private details.