Police: Murdoch tabloid inquiry being sabotaged

A police officer stands outside Downing Street as President Obama's motorcade leaves with British Prime Minister David Cameron May 25, 2011, in London. Getty Images

LONDON - British police said Monday that they believe someone is trying to sabotage its investigation into the widening phone hacking scandal by leaking distracting details of the inquiry to the media.

In an unusual statement, Scotland Yard said that a story that appeared on the front page of London's Evening Standard — which claimed that police had sold personal details about the queen and her closest aides — was "part of a deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation into the alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers and divert attention from elsewhere."

The British press has been furiously reporting allegations journalists at the News of the World tabloid hacked into phones of young murder victims, families of dead servicemen and terrorism victims.

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The scandal, which prompted Rupert Murdoch's News International to close down the tabloid, has since spread to take in allegations that police were given bribes for tips and other information.

The Evening Standard's piece said that bosses at News Corp., News International's parent company, discovered a series of e-mails which indicated that employees had been making corrupt payments to members of Scotland Yard's royal protection officers in return for personal details about the monarch's entourage.

The Evening Standard cited "sources" without saying who the sources were or how they would be in a position to know.

Scotland Yard has declined to specifically address the claims, but in a statement directly referencing the Standard's story they said that they were "extremely concerned and disappointed that the continuous release of selected information — that is only known by a small number of people — could have a significant impact on the corruption investigation."

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