Police corruption probe expanded after Sun arrests

The Metropolitan Police probe into police corruption has been expanded after the investigation widened into looking at allegations of wrongdoing at The Sun, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said there are currently 40 police officers and support staff working on Operation Elveden but the force hopes to expand the figure to 61 following the arrest of four senior editorial executives at The Sun on 28 January.

So far there have been 14 arrests as part of Operation Eleveden including five journalists from The Sun: crime editor Mike Sullivan, former managing editor Graham Dudman, ex-deputy editor Fergus Shanahan, head of news Chris Pharo and district reporter Jamie Pyatt

Asked by counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay QC whether she felt the investigation was in the public interest, Akers replied: ‘If the public think that information is being leaked by police office to journalists then it is inevitable that public confidence is eroded.’

And while she was confident the Met’s phone-hacking investigation Operation Weeting was nearing its end she could not say the same about Elveden.

‘I am less confident in saying that I think we are we’re nearer the end than the beginning on Elveden, than I was when I made that comment about Weeting,’she said.

The inquiry heard that 6,349 individuals were named in materials being investigated as part of Operation Weeting, which included 11,000 pages of notes by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Of these – 4,375 were named with an accompanying phone number. The total number of people contacted by the Met – including those who believed they were hacked but whose name did not appear in Mulcaire’s notes – stands at 2,900, Akers said.

The number of people contacted who appear in the material is 1578, and number of ‘likely victims’is 829 – Akers told the inquiry.

Akers said that likely victims were defined as ‘those that have detail around their names that would suggest to us that they had either been hacked or had the potential to be hacked”.

Of those likely victims 581 have been contacted, 231 were ‘uncontactable’and 17 haven’t been contacted for operational reasons.

The force is also trawling through 300 million emails it was initially told by News International had been deleted, but were later retrieved and reconstructed.

There are 90 staff working on the investigation including 35 working solely with the victims of phone-hacking, Akers said.

Seventeen people have been arrested during the hacking inquiry, with two released without charge and the remainder bailed until March.

Asked whether the hacking investigation was ‘nearer the finishing line than starting gun”, Akers replied: ‘I’d like to think so, yes”

The Met’s computer hacking investigation Operation Tuleta is still at the “scoping stage”, she said, and has a staff of 20 assessing four terabytes of data and 57 separate allegations, some dating back as long ago as the late 1980s.

UPDATE 10/2/12

The Met has sent a letter to the Leveson Inquiry correcting Akers’ evidence. There are eight officers working on Operation Tuleta and the force is seeking to double that figure to 16.

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