Day the police got out of jail: Lord Leveson insists officers acted with integrity over phone hacking probeOfficers had been accused of turning blind eye to phone hacking carried out by News of the World journalistsLord Justice Leveson: A ‘series of poor decisions, poorly executed’ had contributed to this idea taking holdHe accepted force’s argument it
was under pressure to devote resources to thwarting terrorist
attacks when original decision was taken in 2006
23:45 GMT, 29 November 2012
Police conducted themselves with 'integrity' at all times during the original phone hacking investigation, Lord Justice Leveson ruled
Police conducted themselves with ‘integrity’ at all times during the original phone hacking investigation, Lord Justice Leveson ruled.
In the months of fevered speculation leading up to the inquiry being called, officers had been accused of turning a blind eye to the industrial scale of the phone-hacking carried out by News of the World journalists.
The Metropolitan force was accused in the Guardian and elsewhere of not investigating properly because of its closeness to News International, owner of the now defunct NotW.
Lord Justice Leveson said a ‘series of poor decisions, poorly executed’ had contributed to this idea taking hold.
But, crucially, he said there was no reason to doubt the integrity of the police and senior officers concerned.
He accepted the force’s argument that it had been under huge pressure to devote resources to thwarting terrorist attacks at the time the original decision was taken in 2006.
London had been attacked by terrorists in July 2005 and a transatlantic bomb plot was being investigated in one of the biggest operations in modern times.
Police launched the original hacking investigation, dubbed Operation Caryatid, after members of the Royal Household contacted them with concerns that their voicemails were hacked by the NoW in December 2005.
The newspaper’s former royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in 2007 for hacking.
In the months of fevered speculation leading up to the inquiry being called, officers had been accused of turning a blind eye to the industrial scale of the phone-hacking carried out by News of the World journalists
John Yates, former assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, resigned in July 2011 over criticism of his review two years previously
But police later came under fire for
failing to widen the scope of the investigation despite evidence
suggesting that there were many more victims, including celebrities and
John Yates, former assistant
commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, was said to have decided in a
matter of hours that there was no fresh material which could lead to
He resigned in July 2011 over criticism of his review two years previously.
Justice Leveson said that Mr Yates – a friend of Neil Wallis, then
deputy editor of the newspaper – should have made sure he was not
The NoW's former royal editor Clive Goodman (left) and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (right) were jailed in 2007 for hacking
The report by Lord Justice Levenson (above) acknowledged that the decision to restrict the original investigation was justified, given the pressures of counter-terrorism activities at the time
But the judge added: ‘In reality, I
am satisfied that I have seen no basis for challenging at any stage the
integrity of the police, or that of the senior police officers
however, equally clear is that a series of poor decisions, poorly
executed, all came together to contribute to the perception that I have
The report acknowledged that the
decision to restrict the original investigation was justified, given the
pressures of counter-terrorism activities at the time.
it added that the ‘very experienced’ Assistant Commissioner Yates
should have reflected on whether he should be involved in an
investigation into the newspaper at which he had friends, including one
who was the deputy editor.
‘He would have been better advised to arrange for a different officer to conduct it,’ the report said.
‘That is even more so when he decided, within hours and before the case papers had been recovered and could be properly reviewed, that there were no grounds for reviewing the decision: errors of recollection were inevitable and they were made.
‘Furthermore, publicly to announce that conclusion, on camera, on the same day meant that there was no turning back.
A defensive mindset was then established which affected all that followed.’
But the report concluded: ‘The mistakes were neither more nor less than that: the integrity of the officers who gave evidence and were directly involved in the investigation shone through what they said and I do not doubt it.’
London had been attacked by terrorists in July 2005 (above) and a transatlantic bomb plot was being investigated in one of the biggest operations in modern times – putting the police under huge pressure
Milly Dowler: Voicemail messages were probably deleted automatically
News of the World wasn't to blame for Milly 'false hope' moment
The News of the World did not give ‘false hope’ to Milly Dowler’s parents by deleting messages on her mobile phone, Lord Justice Leveson accepts in his report.
The toxic claim – made by the Guardian newspaper – was the direct trigger for the Prime Minister establishing the inquiry in July last year.
But the report accepts that this did not happen and that the voicemail messages were probably deleted automatically by the mobile network operator.
During their evidence, Bob and Sally Dowler spoke movingly of the moment in March 2002 when they realised that messages on their missing daughter’s phone had been deleted.
This became known as the ‘false hope moment’ because it led them to believe that Milly was alive.
Several months after making its claim, the Guardian accepted that journalists from the News of the World – by now defunct – had not deleted the messages.
Lord Justice Leveson says in his report: ‘I entirely reject the suggestions that this error has undermined the basis for the inquiry which, in the light of all the evidence I have heard, was and remains more than amply justified.
‘Whereas it is true that a definitive conclusion is not possible on the existing state of the evidence, and may never be, the inquiry does conclude on the lower standard of proof of the balance of probabilities that tampering with or illegal interception of Milly Dowler’s voicemail was not the cause of the “false hope moment”.
‘This resulted from nothing less banal than the automatic deletion of messages in the ordinary course of the workings of the system.’
The News of the World did not give 'false hope' to Milly Dowler's parents (pictured yesterday) by deleting messages on her mobile phone, Lord Justice Leveson accepts in his report