Wednesday, September 21, 2011

#hackgate #Met police chief ordered to parliament to explain bid to force Guardian to reveal sources

Deputy assistant commissioner to be called before Commons committee that investigated phone hacking
The Metropolitan police has announced a climbdown in its effort to make Guardian reporters reveal sources for articles about phone hacking. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
The Commons home affairs committee has decided to summon the Metropolitan police to explain its actions, after its bid – and subsequent climbdown – to make Guardian reporters disclose their sources for articles relating to the phone hacking of the murder victim Milly Dowler.

The powerful committee of MPs has already investigated phone hacking and lambasted the Met for its failings.

The deputy assistant commissioner, Mark Simmons, will be called before the committee to answer questions this Friday – the same day his officers had intended to take the Guardian to court.

Keith Vaz MP, chair of the home affairs committee said: "I have asked the Metropolitan police to give the committee a full explanation of why they took this action and to provide us with a timeline as to exactly who was consulted.

"It is essential that we get the full facts."

It came after Simmons, who is head of professionalism issues at Scotland Yard, admitted that invoking the Official Secrets Act in attempts to make the Guardian reveal its confidential sources for stories relating to the phone-hacking scandal was "not appropriate".

He defended the police's duty to investigate "robustly" leaks of information to the media.
But he said claims that Amelia Hill, one of the reporters who broke the scandal, could have incited a source to break the Official Secrets Act – and broken the act herself – should not have formed a part of Scotland Yard's strategy.