Huhne on Yates' 'Coulson-gate' statement: "This was a suspiciously quick review"

by Stephen Tall on July 9, 2009

Chris Huhne has responded in lightning quick time to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissionaire John Yates’ statement ruling out any further police investigation of the Guardian’s claims that the News of the World engaged in serious criminal activities while being edited by Andy Coulson, now David Cameron’s top aide.

Earlier today, Chris wrote to Met Chief Sir Paul Stephenson pointing out his force’s conflict of interest in the matter, given the allegations relate to possible failings by the police, and urging an independent investigation. Mr Yates’ over-hasty statement serves only to emphasise Chris’s orginal point:

John Yates’s statement leaves open as many questions as it answers, not least because he says he has only been asked to look into the facts around the inquiry into Clive Goodman and Glen Mulcaire, and not whether any further investigations into other journalists or investigators should have been or were undertaken.

“This was a suspiciously quick review of what Mr Yates himself describes as a complex case. Where there is a potential neglect of duty by a police force, surely another police force or the Independent Police Complaints Commission should look into the matter. Instead, we merely have assurances from the same department that conducted the original investigation that it did so well and thoroughly.

“Mr Yates says that in the vast majority of cases there was insufficient evidence to show tapping had been achieved – necessary to prosecute criminally – but the standard of evidence was clearly high enough in the case of Gordon Taylor to secure a very substantial out of court settlement for damages due to invasion of privacy. Civil cases require a balance of probability, a lower standard of proof than criminal cases requiring evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

“I welcome Mr Yates’s assurance that people will be informed where there is any suspicion that they might have been subject to phone-tapping, but he has not said how many people may be involved or how many journalists. We need a full and independent inquiry.”

And here’s Chris pointing out David Cameron’s “extrordinary lapse of judgement” in hiring Andy Coulson: