The Metropolitan Police today defended its investigation into the during the phone hacking scandal – and explained why it did not widen its inquiry into other reporters at the tabloid.
Scotland Yard's assistant commissioner, John Yates, and detective chief superintendent, Philip Williams, told the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee that other reporters from the News of the World were not pursued because there was no evidence of illegal activity to put to them.
, which was sent by a junior reporter to investigator Glenn Mulcaire referring to a "transcript for Neville". The email was taken to refer to News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck.
"It wasn't a viable live inquiry and I have to say [this decision] has been supported by leading council subsequently," Yates said.
He added that the police did not have any other evidence of illegality to put to other News of the World reporters.
Yates said the police investigated the paper and asked it to disclose all relevant information. A letter was sent to News International solicitors asking for information about "all persons involved" in potential phone hacking.
But Yates did concede that Mulcaire was in contact with other journalists. "I am quite happy to concede that he did contact other journalists, that is his job. What we concentrate on is evidence," he added.
to figures including Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association, to secure out of court settlements, Yates examined the story to see if any fresh evidence had emerged.
"I came to the view that there was no new evidence in the case, it was a conflation of three old stories," he said today. "Was there any new evidence? I have to say there wasn't. Subsequent reviews by the DPP agreed with my conclusion."
Yates said Thurlbeck was not interviewed because "there was no evidence to put to them".
Both Mulcaire and News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman pleaded guilty and went to jail in January 2007 for their part in the scandal, in which phones of members of the royal household were hacked. resigned, and was replaced by Colin Myler.
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