Deputy assistant commissioner says using Official Secrets Act on journalists investigating phone hacking was 'not appropriate'
The deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police has 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".
Speaking a day after the Met announced an abrupt climbdown in its bid to make Guardian reporters disclose their sources for articles relating to the phone hacking of the murder victim Milly Dowler, Mark Simmons, head of professionalism issues at Scotland Yard, 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.
The Met had been due to apply on Friday for a production order to obtain all the material the Guardian holds that would help identify sources for the phone-hacking stories.
"The view I came to when I looked at the matter was that the Official Secrets Act was not an appropriate element of the application," Simmons told the BBC.