A deputy assistant commissioner of the Metroplitan Police has updated the Leveson Inquiry on several investigations into press practices.
DAC Sue Akers QPM, who is heading several police investigations into illegal press and police activity, said the team investigating police bribery would be expanded from 40 to 61 officers, in order to deal with allegations regarding journalists from the Sun.
The investigation carried out by Operation Elveden saw 14 journalists arrested last month, and one in 2011. Four of those arrests were based on information handed over by News Corporation’s managing standards committee.
DAC Akers said: “If the public think that information is being leaked by police officers to journalists then it is investable that public confidence is eroded, so as far as we’re concerned there’s is a very legitimate public interest in investigating this.”
She told inquiry 581 “likely” victims of phone hacking had been contacted by the police in relation to Operation Weeting, and that a further 231 were uncontactable. Seventeen had not been told for undisclosed operational reasons.
Documents obtained by Met Police from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, including email exchanges and audio tapes of hacked voicemails, suggested they are 6,349 potential victims of phone hacking. Around 2,900 people have contacted the police to ask if their voicemails have been hacked. Of these, 1,578 appear in Mulcaire’s 11,000 pages of notes.
Akers said that two of the 17 journalists arrested in relation to Weeting had been released and would not be facing further action, and the remaining 15 had been bailed until March. She added a number of key witnesses had come forward, and a database of 300 million News International emails had been reconstructed by experts.
An investigation into email hacking, Operation Tuleta, is currently examining 57 allegations of data intrusion. Akers said a team of 20 officers were assessing whether a full investigation should be launched, and that some claims of blackmail, breaching of anonymity and telephone interception had been discarded. The team will continue to work from four terabytes of digital information.
Lord Justice Leveson said police officers would be questioned more throughout on operations between 2006 and 2011 in module 2 of the inquiry.