Scotland Yard is battling to stop the phone hacking scandal spiralling out of control amid a storm of fresh revelations.
Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin pledged to leave “no stone unturned” as detectives restarted a “swift and robust” inquiry into the actions of journalists at the News of the World.
He vigorously defended keeping the case closed for four years saying it was reopened in the light of “highly significant” new information passed to police by the newspaper.
Detectives must consider where the dossier of information will lead them under the full glare of the media spotlight as alleged victims of the controversy continue to emerge.
The move came as a steady flow of potentially incendiary developments piled further pressure on the newspaper and police, including Labour frontbencher and former Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell, who said she has contacted police after her mobile phone company alerted her to an apparent attempt to access her voicemail last week.
Actress Leslie Ash and her ex-footballer partner Lee Chapman are preparing legal action over fears their mobile phone messages were intercepted while she battled a life-threatening infection. And court documents reportedly showed designer Kelly Hoppen, the former stepmother of actress Sienna Miller, suspects her phone was targeted as recently as last Spring.
The new police inquiry is the most significant development in the controversy since the News of the World’s royal editor was imprisoned almost exactly four years ago in 2007. Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed at the Old Bailey after they admitted intercepting messages by using industry codes to access voicemails.
The Met acted after detectives were handed information uncovered earlier this week during an internal inquiry, including a trawl of emails held on company servers, at the newspaper.
Ian Edmondson, the newspaper’s head of news, was sacked two days ago after evidence emerged that he was linked to the hacking of mobile phones belonging to high profile individuals. He had been named in documents lodged on behalf of Miss Miller as part of a civil case brought by her legal representatives at the High Court after they obtained police papers.
The police inquiry will be led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, an expert in organised crime who helped Helen Mirren research her role as a senior woman detective in the TV drama Prime Suspect. Ms Akers takes the case from Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates who has been left to focus on his central role of protecting Britain from the threat of terrorism.