The senior detective at Scotland Yard leading the investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World has confirmed there could be as many as 4,000 potential victims.
The unit set up to investigate the allegations, Operation Weeting, is trawling through 11,000 pages of evidence containing the names thousands of people, while hundreds more victims have come forward since the investigation was launched earlier this year.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who has been tasked with leading the operation, admitted that sifting through the vast cache of information was taking a ‘significant amount of time and resources”, as she outlined the ‘scale of the task and the challenges we face”.
‘We have contacted many people already and will contact others whose details appear as quickly as possible,’she said.
‘We are also making contact with organisations that represent the large groups of people reported to be affected to provide reassurance.
‘I understand that many people may be upset and will want to seek information from us. I ask them to be patient and reassure them we will contact them if they are affected – have confidence in us to keep our promise but also realise it will take time.”
Payments to police officers
Meanwhile, the Met’s former deputy assistant commissioner Brian Paddick claimed he had met a NoW journalist who said he was “paying sometimes £20,000 to £30,000 to police officers for information”.
‘All of this was done in a very clandestine way – a drive-through fast food restaurant, that’s where police officers used to go to collect envelops,’he said in an interview with BBC News.
News International has handed police emails identifying which officers were paid, he claimed, and the payments reportedly exceed £100,000
The Met said the allegations of police corruption will be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson was keen to stress that only a ‘small numner of officers’may have taken illegal payments.
‘That is fundamentally corrupt,’he said. ‘If true, I will be determined to root them out, find them and put them in front of the criminal court.”