Former Labour minister Tom Watson has questioned the Government about whether cost pressures are compromising the ongoing investigation into journalists and phone-hacking.
In a House of Commons debate yesterday Watson, MP for West Bromwich East and a member of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said to Solicitor-General Edward Garnier:
The Prime Minister has said that it should be a priority for the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] and the Metropolitan police to follow the evidence where it goes in the phone-hacking scandal.
Will the Minister say whether it is cost pressures at the CPS that have left the Metropolitan police reluctant to pursue the evidence of other private investigators involved in the illegal covert surveillance of British citizens?
Garnier said ‘do not think that that is at all true,’adding:
The hon. gentleman has taken a close interest in this matter and I have no criticism of him for doing that, but the relationship between the CPS and the Metropolitan police is entirely clear and constitutional, and will, as the Prime Minister has said, permit both to lead the investigation to where the evidence takes it.
In 2006 private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for phone-hacking alongside NoW reporter Clive Goodman. It was claimed that Mulcaire had a £104,000-a-year contract with the newspaper for “research and information services”.
In 2009 Watson was falsely accused of being involved in a Labour smear campaign against the Tories and received damages from several newspapers including The Sun.