With the resignation of Andrew Coulson over alleged "phone hacking" at the News of the World during his editorship of the paper, political and media attention is now turning to the Metropolitan Police investigation of the case ( for example see Here )
During the trial of Tommy Sheridan, the High Court of Glasgow heard testimony from the Senior Investigating Officer on the inquiry, Detective Chief Superintendent Phil Williams. Given the interest in this issue we thought readers would be interested in a summary of DCS Williams' evidence in response to questions from Mr Sheridan, who was representing himself
For background Mr Sheridan was exploring the issue as his name and details had been found in a notebook belonging to Glen Mulcaire, who was later convicted for illegally accessing voicemails,. Mr Mulcaire was later cited as a witness in the case but was excused due to illness.
Detective Chief Superintendent Williams told the court that Operation Caryatid, the police code name for the inquiry, was launched after a complaint had been received from the "Royal Household" in December 2005. Despite a long investigation however the only evidence that "reached the level of proof" was that there was only "one victim" who DCS Williams named as James Pinkerton, a "private secretary in the Royal Household."
DCS Williams was then asked if he he knew of any involvement in the offence beyond Glen Mulcaire (a private investigator) and Clive Goodman (the Royal editor of the News of the World) He stated he was "not aware" of any.
Asked about Mr Mulcaire's relationship with the News of the World, DCS Williams replied "he was paid by them, that's all I know"
DCS Williams denied a suggestion that he had "taken direction on who to focus on" during the investigation from the Crown Prosecution Service, but had taken advice from them due to the "complexity of the law" in this area.
DCS Williams agreed that 2978 telephone numbers had been recovered from Mr Mulcaire's notebooks but told the court "the mere presence of a name and address does not mean anything unlawful has gone on." adding that this had also been the view of the Crown Prosecution Service when they had reviewed the case last year.
The witness confirmed that the police investigation had recovered the contract between Mr Mulcaire and the News of the World, and when asked if this "was worth £105,000 per annum" replied that this "sounds like the right amount." Asked if the contract had been signed on behalf of the News of the World by Greg Miskiw responded "that sounds right"
DCS Williams confirmed that the inquiry had not questioned Mr Miskiw as he believed he "would have no legal basis to arrest or interview" him. The investigating officers also did not question Andrew Coulson, then editor of the News of the World. DCS Williams also told the court that Mr Goodman had "refused to answer" any questions from the police. The inquiry had also asked solicitors for the News of the World for any relevant information but were told this could not be provided as "they did not have it."
DCS Williams had not sought a "court order" as the News of the World had cooperated he was "not entitled to get a court order." Asked if the solicitors for the News of the World had had been cooperative, DCS Williams replied he had "no reason to think otherwise and had been advised by a Queens Council and the Crown Prosecution Service over the process he had followed. The witness added that he had asked questions of the News of the World's solicitors and had been told that no relevant documents existed. DCS Williams told the court that he had "no reason to doubt the solicitors."
DCS Williams concluded his testimony by stating that he had found "no evidence of a conspiracy at the News of the World." at denied a suggestions that he had treated the newspaper or it's executives with "kid gloves."