A misconduct investigation into the involvement of Scotland Yard’s former commissioner in the phone-hacking scandal was dropped today.
Allegations against top officers John Yates, Andy Hayman and Peter Clarke have also been thrown out, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) announced.
The watchdog said an independent investigation into allegations that Yates secured a Scotland Yard job for the daughter of hacking suspect Neil Wallis was continuing.
IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said: “In relation to John Yates, considering that he has been questioned about his involvement in phone hacking over many hours in six separate parliamentary sessions, it is difficult to see what further investigation would achieve.”
Sir Paul Stephenson quit last month as police were engulfed by allegations of News of the World payments to officers and criticism over the force’s hiring of Mr Wallis as a PR consultant.
Sir Paul, Clarke, a former deputy assistant commissioner, Yates and Hayman, both former assistant commissioners, were told today that their actions surrounding phone hacking did not amount to “recordable conduct”.
Glass said there can be “no doubt” about the damaging impact on public confidence surrounding the inquiry.
“But 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.
A clear line must be drawn between what is a recordable conduct matter and public concerns that will be addressed by the public inquiry, she added.
“In relation to Sir Paul Stephenson, his conduct was referred by the MPA because of his responsibility for the alleged failings of John Yates.
“But while he is in principle answerable for decisions made on his watch as Commissioner for the Metropolis, I do not think he committed a misconduct offence because one of his officers may have carried out a poor investigation.”
Ms Glass said she had considered Sir Paul’s acceptance of hospitality from a family friend at Champneys Medical while he was on sick leave.
“The public will make its own judgments about whether any senior public official should accept hospitality to this extent from anyone – or indeed about a policy which regards hospitality as acceptable merely because it is disclosed,” she said.
“But whether or not the acceptance of hospitality amounts to recordable conduct, I do not consider that it is necessary to investigate it further. Sir Paul Stephenson has given a public account of his actions and of course, has resigned.”