MP Nick Brown demands phone hacking report be made public

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown has hit out after a report said to reveal details of phone hacking was suppressed

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown
Newcastle East MP Nick Brown

A police report which is said to reveal hacking on an industrial scale by lawyers and big business must be made public, a North East MP insists.

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown has hit out over reports that police handed a dossier to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into phone hacking, only for the document to be suppressed.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he demanded a debate on the issue so that the full story of phone hacking in the UK could be aired.

It follows the revelation that Lord Justice Leveson, the judge who lead an inquiry into phone hacking by some newspapers, received a report from the Serious Organised Crime Agency which said companies routinely hired criminals to hack, blag and steal private information from rivals.

The agency spelled out that the illegal practices went far beyond newspapers, but the judge did not even refer to the report in his findings.

In a letter to MPs, Lord Justice Leveson has argued that the report fell outside the terms of reference for his inquiry, which was set up to “inquire into the culture, practices and ethics of the Press”.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) looked into the activities of investigators and private detectives and found that newspapers or other media organisations made up about one in five of their clients, with other industries making up the remaining four fifths.

Some private detectives listened in to phone calls live, the report said, after a “telephone interception specialist manufactured several devices which were physically attached to the target’s landline at the relevant signal box by a British Telecom-trained telecommunications engineer”.

The report also revealed officers in one investigation had found a document entitled “The Blagger’s Manual”, which explained ways of getting personal information by calling companies, banks, HM Revenue and Customs, councils, utility providers and the NHS.

But the report has never been officially published and details emerged only after it was leaked to the media.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Brown asked for a debate on the report, saying: “It alleges sustained and persistent access to information contained on the police computer and other organisations’ databases that is supposed to be confidential, but is in fact widely shared via improper methods.” He asked Leader of the House Andrew Lansley:: “We understand that the report exists. Will the Leader of the House confirm that that is so? Will he find time for us to debate it and, before we do so, may we see it?”

Mr Lansley said he would pass the MP’s concerns to Home Secretary Theresa May,. Lord Justice Leveson set out proposals for a new Press regulator with power to fine newspapers £1m.

He has been asked to appear before the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, where he is likely to be asked about the Soca dossier.

It alleges sustained and persistent access to information on the police computer . . .


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