UK

Lord Prescott in phone hacking probe call

Lord Prescott
Image caption Lord Prescott said he was hacked on 44 separate occasions

Lord Prescott says there is "something rotten in the state of England" in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

During a Lords debate Lord Prescott, the alleged victim of phone hacking, called for the government to hold an independent public inquiry.

He said a number of institutions in the UK, including the police, had been "polluted" by the scandal.

It follows allegations that former prime minister Tony Blair may also have had his phone messages intercepted.

Police are investigating further claims that royals and politicians - including Kate Middleton - were victims of phone hacking.

Calling for a public inquiry Lord Prescott said the "criminal activity by our press" had polluted a number of institutions in the country.

"The first is the Metropolitan Police who in the initial stages refused to accept even though they had the evidence that this has been going on and constantly for years said it was a rogue reporter, we now know that not to be true.

"Having told me personally that my phone messages had not been tapped at all, there was no evidence, the new inquiry comes along and tells me there were 44 occasions.

"You can't trust the police if they are producing misleading information, deliberately so."

Hacking allegations

He also criticised the role of the Press Complaints Commission and the Crown Prosecution Service and said the courts had been "polluted" by the process, as they had not received all the police information.

The result, he said, was that "there is something rotten in the state of England at present".

On Wednesday, Labour MP Tom Watson told the Commons Mr Blair had been subjected to covert surveillance by private investigator Jonathan Rees, a contractor for News International.

The Guardian newspaper said Kate Middleton - now the Duchess of Cambridge - Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and former Home Secretary Jack Straw were all believed to have been victims of hacking.

Scotland Yard confirmed it had received several allegations of breaches of privacy since January, which are being investigated.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Thursday, Mr Blair said he knew no more than what he had read and was not intending to speak to the Metropolitan Police to find out more.

"I assume that if someone's got something, they will get in touch with me," he added.

News International said: "It is well documented that Jonathan Rees and Southern Investigations worked for a whole variety of newspaper groups.

"With regards to Tom Watson's specific allegations, we believe these are wholly inaccurate."

On Tuesday, News International formally apologised in court to the actress Sienna Miller for hacking into several of her mobile phones.

The Met reopened its inquiry - known as Operation Weeting - in January into claims that staff at News International's News of the World newspaper had hacked into the phone messages of celebrities and other public figures.

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