Sunday, September 25, 2011

#Hackgate : MET criticised by Keith Vaz for Official Secrets Act threat to the Guardian

Chairman of home affairs select committee tells senior officer move was mistake, in meeting held behind closed doors
Keith Vaz headed the parliemntary hearings into phone-hacking at News International. Photograph: Rex Features
The Metropolitan police's attempt to use the Official Secrets Act to force a Guardian reporter to reveal her sources has been condemned by the chairman of the Commons' home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz.

Following a private meeting with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, Vaz, a Labour MP, criticised officers' failure to seek external legal advice before resorting to the courts to obtain notes about phone-hacking stories.

"I consider it was a mistake that they did not use senior counsel in the first place and that the Official Secrets Act was used in these circumstances," Vaz said. "It was right to withdraw the proceedings against The Guardian." The "informal, private" session, at which Vaz was the only MP present, was held behind closed doors.

Parliament is in recess during the party political conference season; notes were taken and will be circulated to other members of the committee.