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Police decline to reopen mobile phone hacking case

'Nothing to hear, move along' says Yates of the Yard

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The UK Police have said no further investigation is needed into the News of the World phone tapping scandal.

The paper's former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and a private detective accomplice Glen Mulcaire, were jailed over the illegal wiretapping of the mobile phones of royal aides in 2007. The scandal was re-opened on Thursday after The Guardian reported that three other targets of the wiretapping were paid £1m to drop lawsuits.

Graham Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers Association, was paid £700K to settle a privacy lawsuit against the NotW. Other targets of the illegal operation reportedly included former deputy prime minister John Prescott and celebrity PR Max Clifford. However, police have said there was no evidence that Prescott's phone was tapped and the list of those affected beyond Taylor, Clifford and royal aides to Prince William remains unclear.

The Guardian reports that the illegal interception of mobile phones by News International journalists was far from limited to Goodman. The paper quoted unnamed investigators who said that "thousands" of mobile phones were tapped.

However the Metropolitan Police said that no additional evidence has emerged in a detailed statement from Assistant Commissioner John Yates explaining a decision not to re-open the case.

Goodman and Mulcaire were engaged in a sophisticated and wide ranging conspiracy to gather private and personal data, principally about high profile figures. Clearly they benefited financially from these matters.

Our inquiries found that these two men had the ability to illegally intercept mobile phone voice mails, commonly known as phone tapping.

Their potential targets may have run into hundreds of people, but our inquiries showed that they only used the tactic against a far smaller number of individuals.

AC Yates goes on to say that all the celebrity victims of the wiretapping have been contacted, responding to a specific criticism of the police in earlier coverage of the scandal, before outlining the technical problems police faced during the investigation.

The police investigation was complex and was carried out in close liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service, Senior Counsel and the telephone companies concerned.

The technical challenges posed to the service providers to establish that there had in fact been interception were very, very, significant.

It is important to recognise that our enquiries showed that in the vast majority of cases there was insufficient evidence to show that tapping had actually been achieved.

Although the police have decided not to re-open the case, other inquiries into the scandal seem likely. The Guardian reports that the Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing its file on the case. The Press Complaints Commission and, most significantly, a Commons select committee, are likely to re-examine the case.

Hearings before the House of Commons' culture committee are likely to grill current and former News Group execs including Andy Coulson, the News of the World editor who resigned over the Goodman case prior to his appointment as head of communications for the Conservative party.

In related news, well connected political blogger Dizzy Thinks reports that Tory politicians are being advised to change their mobile phone PINs, a move the blogger likens to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. ®

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