Boris Johnson’s deputy accused of interfering with the phone hacking investigation

March 5, 2012 1:58 pm

Another great spot from Adam Bienkov today, who notes that Boris Johnson’s deputy Kit Malthouse has been accused of interfering with the phone hacking investigation. That’s the same Kit Malthouse who yesterday came under fire for using his City Hall office for his outside interests…

Bienkov notes that former MET police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson’s evidence to the Leveson enquiry featured the following statement:

“On several occasions after Operation Weeting had started and I had returned from sick leave, the Chair of the MPA, Kit Malthouse, expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media- driven “level of hysteria”.

Perhaps such a level of interference and attempts to talk down the significange of phone hacking were inevitable – after all Boris himself has a track record of such statements.

Update: Labour MP Chris Bryant has responded to today’s evidence, calling for Malthouse to resign and accusing both Boris Johnson and his deputy of intentionally seeking to close down the phone hacking investigation:

“Today’s revelation at the Leveson Inquiry by the former Met Commissioner about the actions of Boris Johnson’s deputy makes it clear that from the highest political level Johnson and Malthouse have intentionally sought to close down the phone-hacking investigation.

“In 2010 Boris Johnson called phone hacking ‘a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party’ and ‘a song and dance about nothing’. Now we discover his deputy, Kit Malthouse, personally intervened with the Police Commissioner to argue for reduced resources for the inquiry and attacked the story as ‘hysteria’. This amounts to a clear political intervention designed to intimidate the Met into dropping an investigation. Considering that the investigation has thus far uncovered bribery of police officers by the Sun, mass criminality at the News of the World and a deliberate attempt to pervert the course of justice by News International, both Boris Johnson and Kit Malthouse’s interventions show that they are more interested in protecting their cronies than in pursuing justice.

“In any other country this kind of political manipulation would be considered wholly unacceptable and corrupt. It is no longer possible for Londoners to have confidence in the Met with Kit Malthouse sitting at the top table. Kit Malthouse should either resign or Boris Johnson should be forced to sack him.”

  • M Cannon

    At the time of which Sir John Stephenson is speaking the Met had 60 officers and staff devoted to Operation Weeting.  Given that most of us could not care at all whether celebrities’ mobile phones were hacked by journalists I think Mr Malthouse was right to query this with Sir John Stephenson.

    Meanwhile, did anyone who writes for LabourList spot a very interesting story about Mr Livingstone and his tax affairs?  Apparently not.  We want to see Mr Livingstone’s tax returns so that we can be sure he has not avoided paying his “fair share” of tax.

    Attempts to divert attention from this, the real story about the London mayoral elections at present, by a barage of mud-slinging items about Mr Johnson and his team are futile.  Mr Livingstone, show us that return!

    • M Cannon

      I should have made it clear that I think the hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone was unforgiveable.  But it did not need 6o people to investigate that.

      • trotters57

        Labourlist seems to be dead as a serious debating platform.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

        It wasn’t only that – its a huge use of hacking for all sorts of purposes, not just one case

      • PeterJukes

        Please pay attention. There are now known to be at least 800 hacking victims from one private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. We still haven’t even scraped the surface of what Jonathan Rees was up to, and Operation Motorman uncovered hundreds more victims of blagging and illegal data capture.

        Now we discover the Sun had a pattern of substantial payments to a ‘network of corrupt officials’. 

        It really behoves all of us – from left and right – who believe in a vibrant democracy, and accountable actions from those in power in Parliament and in the press, to speak up against this long slow corruption at the heart  of three pillars of society (the press, the police and politicians). 

        I’d urge conservatives to join in this. Murdoch switched allegiance as it suited his corporate interests. He trashed, through his monopoly position in the press and broadcasting, anyone who didn’t jump to his demands. 

        Peter Oborne and many other conservative politicians recognise the danger. Even John Biffen pointed out that when powerful media magnates spoke in cliques with politicians, the public interest and democracy was unlikely to be served.

        Let’s no make this a party issue. All of us have an interest in the organs of free speech not coming under any kind of monopoly pressure. 

        The Leveson inquiry merely highlights the dangers some people have warned of for years. 

        • M Cannon

          You have a particular angle on Murdoch pere. I am certainly no fan, but am not as hostile to him as you.

          Mr Murdoch controls/controlled two daily newspapers (The Times and the Sun) and two Sunday papers (The Sunday Times and the News of the World/Sunday Sun). He dos not control the Telegraph papers, the Guardian, The Observer, the Independent/Independent on Sunday, the Mail group, the Express Group or the Mirror Group.

          In terms of TV Mr Murdoch controls Sky, including Sky News. He does not contol the BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and numerous other channels. I don’t think he controls any radio stations.

          I agree that politicians of all parties have been too keen to pander to Mr Murdoch, but – save for the time when Baldwin told Rothermere and Beaverbrook where they could take their papers – politicians have always fawned on newpaper owners and editors.  It may well be that under Messrs Blair, Brown and Cameron relations between politicians and Mr Murdoch’s acolytes became particularly close.  I regard that as unhealthy.

          Many of the “victims” seem to have received very large sums of money for very minor intrusion into their personal lives.

          Having read Sir Paul Stephenson’s witness statement it is not clear whether, when Mr Malthouse made his (alleged) remarks about the level of resources being devoted to Operation Weeting, it was known that Millie Dowler’s phone had been hacked. At that stage it was certainly not known that the Sun was paying sums to the police.

          I think it likely that phone hacking was not limiteed to the Murdoch press and that Leveson may well conclude that the Mirror was up to its neck in it too.

          What are your views on Mr Livingstone’s tax arrangements?

          • AlanGiles

            I think any unbiased person would consider Rupert Murdoch to be a great actor – when as “Mr Rupert” he appeared before the Select Committee last year his performance as a doddering, almost senile figure – a cross between King Lear in his dotage and a subtle blend of Albert Steptoe and  Young Mr Grace was almost convincing. The next day he was escorting “Miss Rebecca” round like an elderly stud.

            When he relaunched the News of The World a week or so again he was back to his Orson Welles inspired performance as a media mogul.

            To reduce himself to the pathetic old hack as he did last year (“this is the most humble day of my life”) showed not only a lack of pride, but a very devious nature, and he obviously did so because he had something to hide.

            As regards Ken Livingstone – I deplore his “company status” to boost his income, just as much as I do David Miliband (who incidently wrote for the News of the World last Sunday). If you are in public life, honesty and transparency are the most important ingredients IMO. It also doesn’t make me comfortable that his “election co-ordinator”) is that lady ever anxious to sign remortgage applications, Ms Jowell. That said, I think there are certain members  of Mr Johnson’s team that would not stand up to scrutiny.

            I mention the Livingstone situation here since I was accussed yesterday of not saying anything about it.

    • Dave Postles

       @ Mark Cannon
      I mentioned Livingstone’s registration as a company paying only corporation tax.  Unless you are thinking of some other aspect, it was raised and deplored.

      • M Cannon

        Sorry – must have missed that.  Well done!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36910622 Edward Carlsson Browne

      Given that the hacking of phones is illegal, I’m curious why exactly you think Malthouse should have been asking the Met to spend less time ignoring crime.

      BTW, if you’re going to try to distract attention from an unwelcome news item, accusing others of attempting to distract is just not going to work.

      • Hugh

        There’s plenty of illegal activity that the police don’t seem to feel the need to put 60 officers onto – police acceptance of backhanders being one pertinent example.

      • M Cannon

        It is a question of whether it is proportionate or sensible to have 60 police and other staff investigating what is – I would suggest – the not very serious crime of listening to the messages on other people’s mobile phones or whether the finite resources would be better deployed elsewhere.

        Many of us find ourselves listening to other people’s conversations on their mobile phones whether we like it or not.

    • ovaljason

      Mark 

      Apart from one or two principled commentators, there has been no critique of Ken on this site.

      I have argued the point that by remaining silent on these tax allegations, the editor of this site is encouraging corrupt behaviour in the future.  Alas to no avail.

      Voting Labour at GEs is easy for me.  The brilliant Kate Hoey is my MP.  But how should one vote in the mayoral election if allegations still remain that Ken has deployed tax avoidance techniques to withhold his fair share of money from the NHS and schools.

      The attitude on this site is that it is better to vote for a tax cheat in a red shirt, than a tax payer in a blue shirt.

      • trotters57

        There are two main ways to run a business in this country, sole trader or limited company.
        If you ask any accountant which to choose they would mostly say, limited company. The reasons for this are not just for tax avoidance, but limited liability, marketability, and professional front.
        Livingstone had a choice of two legal structures, he choose the limited company option. 
        Please stop these idiotic non sequiturs and strawmen.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

         Ah, so you’re a non-Labour supporter who likes a maverick MP who often votes with the Tories and has worked with Ken’s opponent.

        The sort of voter we neither want nor need. This site isn’t here to slag off Labour candidates.

        • ovaljason

          So let’s get this straight.  You say: ” This site isn’t here to slag off Labour candidates.”

          And in the very same post you describe Kate Hoey MP as : ” a maverick MP who often votes with the Tories and has worked with Ken’s opponent.”

          Erm….you might need to re-phrase, Mike.

          • AlanGiles

            It is for Mike to answer for himself, of course, but I too am guilty of being quite trenchant in my views on some “Labour” politicians, and the reason for this is that some of them – like Ms Hoey, Frank Field, seem happier in Conservative company and espouse very similar Conservative views.

            I am also very strict where honesty is concerned, and, at the time of the expenses scandal, I was just as harsh with Labour fiddlers as I was with Conservative fiddlers – and to try to keep balance if I named three of one party, I would name three of the other.

            In the instance of Ms Hoey I am afraid I fail to understand what a London MP – in a fairly poor area of London – is doing supporting fox hunting and country pursuits so vocally. I am sure most of her constituents have far different worries and it seems a bit odd (to put it mildly) to be supporting Boris Johnson and the Labour party at the same time, as Frank Field does – more friendly with Duncan-Smith than he is with many of his own colleagues.

            Just because the MP is wearing the right colour rosette  we shouldn’t be afraid to point out when they are being inconsistent, dishonest or hypocritical.

          • ovaljason

            Alan

            You’re right. We shouldn’t judge politicians from the colour of their rosette.  But their voting record? That’s fair, right?  So let’s check the major issues:

            ++++IRAQ WAR:

            Kate Hoey AGAINST, Gordon Brown FOR, Ed Mili FOR

            ++++42 DAYS DETENTION WITHOUT CHARGE:

            Kate AGAINST, Gordon FOR, Ed FOR

            +++++90 DAYS DETENTION WITHOUT CHARGE

            Kate AGAINST, Gordon FOR, Ed FOR

            +++++TRIDENT RENEWAL

            Kate AGAINST, Gordon FOR, Ed FOR

            +++++ORIGINAL TUITION FEES

            Kate AGAINST, Gordon FOR

            +++++ID CARDS:

            Kate AGAINST, Gordon FOR, Ed FOR

            FOX HUNTING

            Kate FOR, Gordon ABSTAIN 

            So, Alan, let’s be clear.  You’ve considered the voting record of Kate Hoey et al and you’ve chosen to back that faction of the Party which is

            i) illegal-war-mongering
            ii) tuition-fees-introducing
            iii) civil-liberties-reducing
            iv) nuclear-arms-supporting

            As opposed to an MP who has opposed all this, but supports fox hunting.

            If so, then wow.

          • AlanGiles

            But Ed Miliband wasn’t elected to  Parliament until May 5th 2005 and the Iraq vote was in 2003. I think you are confusing him with his bumptious and war-mongering big brother.

            As regards Ms Hoey, she wastes a lot of energy of something that is of no concern to the people of South London

          • ovaljason

            Fair correction.  The field I meant to copy for Ed M was:

            Voted AGAINST Iraq war investigation.

            But my substantive point is still not addressed:

            On the issues that have mattered over the last decade you support Ed and Gordon’s voting record over Kate Hoey’s.

        • AlanGiles

          I must admit, I often wonder how many of the good people of Vauxhall put on their hunting pink each weekend and say “Tally Hoey” as the saintly Kate gallops back from Westminster – or a meeting of the Countryside Alliance.

    • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

      You’re just trying to divert attention from the fact that Ken is putting solid policies on the table so the electorate have a decent choice come the mayoral election:

      1. Cheaper underground fares – that’s big bonus for Londoners.

      2. Re-introduction of the Educational Maintenance Allowance -a fantastic investment in young people to help guarantee a prosperous future.

      Befuddled Boris is doing bug**r all.

      • Hugh

         1. Can only be achieved by cutting investment in the underground line
        2. Probably can’t be achieved at all since it’s not in his power to do it.

        Incorporated Ken is simply trying to con and bribe voters.

        • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

          Does Conservative Central Office have a desk dedicated to this blog?

          • http://twitter.com/gonzozzz dave stone

            And, BTW, there can be little doubt: if Ken wins the Tory led government will do everything possible (central government grant reductions etc) to punish Londoners for voting for Ken.

          • AnotherOldBoy

            No, but Mr Livingstone has been rumbled on both these supposed policies by Channel 4.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    This sort of argument may well become very frequent after Police and Crime Commissioners are elected later this year.  The role of the PCCs includes raising and overseeing of the budget.

    Among Labour’s own requirements for PCCs standing under a Labour banner, is this:

    ”Have the strategic vision to both support and hold to account the Chief Constable in building confidence in the police, promoting community safety, reducing crime and antisocial behaviour, determining local policing priorities and contributing to action on national priorities such as organised crime and prevention of terrorist activity.”  I have made the emphsasis – it is not in the original text.

    More Labour policy on the PCCs at http://www.labour.org.uk/police-and-crime-commissioners-elections-2012,2011-12-02

    It is an area rife for different interpretations.  Someone may interpret a direction from the PCC as politically motivated, someone else interpret it as trying to achieve value for money or a more efficient use of money.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

      That’s always been the role of the police authorities – the difficulty has always been how you effectively separate operational policing which remains the role of the Chief Constable, to more strategic matters which are the responsibility of the Authority , becoming PCC’s

      I’m concerned that so much power can be given to a single individual – where are the checks and balances? Who scrutinises this individual?

  • M Cannon

    Good try, but not good enough.

    Mr Livingstone has no need to channel his income into a limited liability company in order to achieve “marketability” or an enhanceed “professional front”.  And he was not likely to face any liabilities from his activities which would cause an accountant to suggest that he should have limited liability.  The only and obvious reason was to reduce his tax bill.

    But Mr Livingstone can clear the air by publishing his tax returs for the last 5 years together with those of his wife.

  • ovaljason

    Mr Cannon below has beat me to it, so I simply ask you to respond to his points below.

    • ovaljason

      trotters57 / Paul Hillyard

      Just spotted that the logo you use to promote your “tax savings” for companies website is almost the exact opposite of UK Uncut’s logo:

      The logo on your website:

      file://localhost/Users/michaelmckinley/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202012-03-06%20at%2013.08.25.png

      UK Uncut’s logo:

      file://localhost/Users/michaelmckinley/Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202012-03-06%20at%2013.24.20.png

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

     If you mean as a platform for Tories to come on and have a go at Labour, it is far too lax – I’d ban the lot straight away. I’m not going to debate with people hostile to my party in an unregulated forum

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