Malthouse: Hacking inquiry using too many resources

The deputy mayor of London, Kit Malthouse, complained to ex-Met commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson that too many resources were being used on the phone-hacking investigation.

Stephenson said that while the ‘reality was that this was wrong’it was nonetheless a ‘fairly widely held view’on Operation Weeting, the hacking investigation launched in January 2011.

In written evidence he stated: ‘On several occasions after Operation Weeting had started and I had returned from sick leave, the chair of the MPA [Metropolitan Police Authority], Kit Malthouse, expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone-hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media-driven ‘level of hysteria’.”

He added: “I think that came together to create this very closed mindset that was defensive in nature which meant we didn’t adopt a challenging mindset which is the best way to conduct an inquiry.”

Stephenson also revealed he did not read the 2009 Guardian article that first suggested hacking went beyond so-called rogue reporter Clive Goodman.

‘It was just yet another headline – I don’t mean to say it dismissively – some noise about an event that I expected someone to pick it up and deal with it,’he said.

Stephenson later admitted that senior figures at the Met became “obsessed” with headlines and angered at the frequency of leaks by top officers to journalists.

He said: ‘I am referring to a very small number of the management board who on occasions gossiped and leaked from within the Met and within the management board – that was deeply unhelpful and actually added to a continued dialogue of disharmony and almost dysfunctionality with the Met at the most senior levels.

“That was hugely distracting and in my opinion unprofessional.” But these “loose-lipped” stories reduced during his time as commissioner, he claimed.

Stephenson resigned last July just days after the revelation that the NoW had hacked into the voicemail message of murdered schoolgirl Millie Dowler.

He stood down shortly after it emerged the Met had hired former NoW executive editor Neil Wallis as a PR consultant and Stephenson accepted free accommodation at a luxury health spa worth thousands of pounds.

He was off work from January to April 2011 after undergoing emergency surgery to remove a pre-cancerous tumour from his femur and a second operation to repair a fracture caused by the growth.

To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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