London: Britain`s police watchdog on Wednesday
cleared the nation`s former top cop of any criminal misconduct
during the phone-hacking inquiry at Rupert Murdoch`s News of
the World (NoW) tabloid.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said
Sir Paul Stephenson, the former Metropolitan Police
commissioner, had not committed any criminal acts.
The IPCC report also cleared former Assistant
Commissioners John Yates and Andy Hayman, and the former
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke of misconduct over
phone hacking at the now-defunct NoW, which was Britain`s
largest selling tabloid.
However, the IPCC said it would probe separate
allegations that Yates, who quit a day after Stephenson, had
helped a former NoW executive`s daughter to obtain a job with
the London police.
Stephenson resigned in July following criticism for
hiring Neil Wallis - who has been questioned by police
investigating hacking - as a public relations consultant.
Stephenson was referred to the IPCC because of his
responsibility for the alleged failings of Yates, but the
report said the fact one of his officers may have carried out
a poor investigation did not constitute a misconduct offence.
The report also considered his acceptance of hospitality
from a spa while he was on sick leave.
Reacting to the outcome of the inquiry, Stephenson said
it was "as I would have expected it to be" and he regretted
resources "have had to be expended on this matter".
Yates said he was pleased to be cleared of wrongdoing
over hacking, but was disappointed in the decision to further
investigate his "peripheral involvement" in the recruitment of
Wallis`s daughter in a civilian non-operational role.
"I strongly deny any wrongdoing and I am completely
confident that I will be exonerated," he said.
The outcome of the probe came a day after a letter by
former royal editor Clive Goodman suggesting senior executives
at the News of the World knew phone hacking was taking place
was published by the Commons culture committee.
The IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass noted the damaging
effect of the phone-hacking scandal.
"... while there can be little doubt of the effect on the
public`s mind about the series of revelations regarding
connections between senior police officers and News
International, the IPCC must identify what is, and what is
not, conduct that needs to be investigated," she said.
Journalists of the News of the World are accused of
engaging in phone hacking, police bribery, and exercising
improper influence in the pursuit of scoops.