You may have missed it but yesterday one MP made an allegation that could blow the phone hacking scandal wide open. Allegations that former Attorney General and DPP were fully aware of widespread phone hacking at the NOTW but were instructed by someone in government to limit any police investigation.
Geoffrey Cox QC MP alleged that Cabinet Member, Lord Goldsmith and the then Director of Public Prosecutions were made fully aware by police of the widespread phone hacking of celebrities and politicians in 2006. Despite knowledge of this widespread criminal behaviour, an intriguing decision was taken to limit the investigation to just the hacking of Royal phones. From Hansard:
May I take the right hon. Gentleman back to 2006? Did he find as part of his investigation that the Attorney-General had been informed in 2006—on 30 May, to be precise—that a vast array of numbers had been tapped by investigators employed by News International? The then Attorney-General’s approval was sought for a much narrower focused investigation, which plainly, by implication, was given. Is it not clear that Ministers knew in 2006 that there was a great array of tapped phone numbers that could have given rise to a wider investigation, but they never allowed the police, or instructed the police to carry it out?
The clear allegation is that Ministers, presumably the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister agreed, in some form, to the limiting of the 2006 police investigation into phone hacking.
It is absolutely manifest that the Attorney-General in the previous Government, who sits when appropriate in the Cabinet, was informed that there was “a vast array” of offending behaviour in which hundreds of celebrities, Members of the House and of the other place and others had had their phones accessed without authority. Why was nothing done?
The Leader of the Opposition has left the Chamber. Can he or former members of the Cabinet tell us whether the Attorney-General in 2006 brought to the attention of his colleagues the fact that a vast array of offending behaviour had been committed by News International but it was not intended that it be investigated by the police? The Attorney-General has a solemn duty to draw to the attention of the Cabinet such matters if they affect the public interest. The Attorney-General has a right of oversight of the CPS—the ultimate resort—and could at least instruct that advice be given to the police on such matters. Why was nothing done?
These are absolutely intriguing questions. Did the Attorney-General inform the PM/Cabinet about the widespread hacking at the NOTW? If he didn’t why not? If he did, what discussions did he have with the PM or Home Secretary about the scope of police investigation?
NB. Aside from being an MP, Geoffrey Cox is a respected QC. Not the kind of man to throw around allegations he cannot substantiate.