UK

Leveson Inquiry: 150 officers on hacking inquiry

Some 150 officers are working on the investigation into phone hacking compared to 27 hunting paedophiles in London, the Leveson Inquiry has heard.

The deputy mayor of London said it was why he had questioned the levels of resources into the investigation.

Kit Malthouse had faced calls to resign after a former Met Commissioner revealed his interventions.

The Met was forecast to spend £40m on hacking, compared to £36m annually on child abuse investigations.

Earlier this month, Sir Paul Stephenson and Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick told the inquiry that Mr Malthouse had suggested the investigation should be scaled back.

Labour had called for Kit Malthouse to resign on the grounds of attempted political manipulation.

But Mr Malthouse insisted at the Leveson Inquiry that he was simply asking legitimate questions as he was keen to ensure the focus on hacking was not to the detriment of other investigations.

"I was keen to ensure that they weren't overplaying it," said the deputy mayor, referring to Operation Weeting - the police investigation into hacking.

'Eight murder squads'

Mr Malthouse said Scotland Yard had a backlog of 400 rape investigations in 2009, and throughout 2010 the force was struggling with resources. He also said he was unhappy with the Met's approach to dealing with gang crime.

"I was keen to ensure that they were not undertaking this investigation at the detriment of, for instance, rape victims," he said.

"Having sat and watched the tears roll down the faces of rape victims as they recounted what happened to them I was actually aware of the problem."

About 90 police officers are involved in Operation Weeting, which was set up to investigate phone-hacking at the News of the World.

Forty police officers and staff are working on Operation Elveden, the investigation into police corruption. However, this is due to expand to 60 as the inquiry has widened to include the Sun newspaper.

Mr Malthouse said the investigations will continue to absorb police resources, with more than 200 officers due to be diverted to Operation Weeting next year.,

"That's the equivalent of eight murder squads," he said.