London police chief says own phone hacked

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 12, 2011 9:39 AM

By Michael Holden and William Maclean

LONDON (Reuters) - A senior British police officer, questioned in parliament about a phone hacking scandal that led to closure of a leading newspaper, said on Tuesday he believed he himself had been the victim of phone hacking.

John Yates, an assistant commissioner with London's Metropolitan Police, said it was inevitable that some officers were corrupt, but strongly denied he received illegal payments from newspapers.

"From the methods I know that are used and the impact that it has on your phone, your PIN number, I am 99 percent certain my phone was hacked during the period of up to 2005/6," Yates told a parliamentary hearing on phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper, part of the News Corp media group.

The phone hacking scandal has spread from celebrities to victims of crime, casting a shadow over News Corp's operations and raising questions about ties between reporters and police officers, some of whom appear to have provided confidential telephone numbers to certain people working for some newspapers.

Yates has been criticized for concluding in 2009 there was not enough evidence to reopen the London force's original investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World amid claims the original probe had not gone far enough.

Yates said he had no idea who had intercepted his phone and that relevant records no longer existed.

At that time, he was leading an inquiry into allegations the ruling Labour party was taking cash in return for seats in the unelected upper House of Lords. No charges followed the inquiry.

Asked if he had ever been paid by journalists, Yates said: "That's an amazing question and I have never, ever, ever received any payment of that sort."

However, he said corruption in the Met was inevitable.

"...We're an organization of 50,000 people, we have always said from time immemorial that some of those 50,000 people will be corrupt and accept payments," he said.

Yates also said he was never contacted by News International about his private life of put under any such pressure by the newspaper group.

The New York Times reported on Monday five senior British detectives discovered their phones were hacked soon after police launched an investigation into the News of the World in 2006.

Andy Hayman, a former police officer who was the lead investigator in the initial hacking inquiry, said he had no idea whether his phone had been hacked.

"I haven't got a clue," he said.

"I don't know. I really don't know, and if I am, so be it because I've got nothing to hide at all. And I say, the shopping list will be on there, and the golf tee off time."

(Editing by Matthew Jones)