THE former assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police should not have led the investigation into phone hacking because of his close links with the News of the World.
Lord Justice Leveson said a ‘series of poor decisions, poorly executed’ had given the impression that closeness between the police and News International had left some officers reluctant to fully investigate phone hacking claims. Lord Justice Leveson added that he had no reason to doubt the integrity of the officers involved.
Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal reporter and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator were jailed in 2007 for phone hacking under the original Operation Caryatid, but police came under fire for failing to widen the scope of the investigation despite evidence suggesting further victims.
Mr Yates was said to have made up his mind in a matter of hours that there was no new evidence that could lead to convictions.
Lord Justice Leveson said today that Mr Yates’ – whose was friends with Neil Wallis, then deputy editor of the newspaper – should have ensured he played no part in the investigation.
Leveson said: “Because of its importance to the reputation of the Metropolitan Police each step of the way in which Operation Caryatid was executed and later reviewed has been analysed in great detail.
“In reality, I am satisfied that I have seen no basis for challenging at any stage the integrity of the police, or that of the senior police officers concerned.
“What is, however, equally clear is that a series of poor decisions, poorly executed, all came together to contribute to the perception that I have recognised.”
The Leveson report acknowledged that the decision to restrict the initial investigation was down to the pressures of counter-terrorism activities at the time.
But it added that Mr Yates, a ‘very experienced police officer’ did not ‘reflect on whether he should be involved in an investigation into the newspaper at which he had friends.’
“He would have been better advised to arrange for a different officer to conduct it.
“That is even more so when he decided, within hours and before the case papers had been recovered and could be properly reviewed, that there were no grounds for reviewing the decision: errors of recollection were inevitable and they were made.
“Furthermore, publicly to announce that conclusion, on camera, on the same day meant that there was no turning back.
“A defensive mindset was then established which affected all that followed.”