MPs threatened over UK phone-hacking

A Labour front bencher has slammed Rupert Murdoch over the phone-hacking scandal.

Chris Bryant and his mates had been told by an ally of Mr Murdoch that their raising the issue “would not be forgotten”

He said that MPs were “warned off” pursuing the phone-hacking scandal in Parliament as part of a cover-up.

Bryant accused the Met police of misleading a Commons committee.

He said neither the police nor the newspapers had properly investigated the criminality and that attempts had been made to suppress the full scale of the wrongdoing.

Bryant said that News International had carried out illegal activities ranging from tapping phones to blagging phone records and conning health records out of doctors’ surgeries.

Apparently it was common practice at the News of the World from 2002, three years before it was formally acknowledged by police.

Hacking had taken place under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks, the current head of News International and Mr Murdoch’s most senior UK newspaper executive.

Bryant added that one of Britain’s most senior police officers, the Met’s acting deputy commissioner, John Yates,  misled a parliamentary inquiry by saying there had been only “eight to 12 victims”;

But Bryant said that, despite the fact that eight MPs, including Gordon Brown and John Prescott were hacked, it had been communicated to MPs that they should not pursue the scandal.

He said that this was almost as bad as the cover-up. When he raised the question of parliamentary privilege last September, his friends were told by a senior figure allied to Rupert Murdoch and a former executive of News International to warn him that “this would not be forgotten”.

Bryant, a former Europe minister, spoke in the Commons hours after he saw evidence about him in material seized from one of the arrested hacks in 2006.

He wants a judicial review of the Met’s handling of the phone hacking case and has been backed by Lord Prescott, Brian Paddick, the former Scotland Yard Commander, and Brendan Montague, a freelance journalist.

He said that the relationship between the News of the Screws and the Metropolitan Police was remarkably and “dangerously close.”

Bryant was able to make his claims in Parliament under laws which mean he cannot be sued by anyone. The chamber was empty so not many MPs heard him.

News International told the Independent  that there was no evidence that phone hacking was carried out on its titles beyond the News of the Screws or that the activity took place as early as 2002.