Kit Malthouse 'should resign over phone-hacking comments'

Kit Malthouse
Image caption Kit Malthouse is the deputy mayor for London who is also responsible for policing

London Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse has been urged to resign after reportedly saying too many police resources were allocated to the phone-hacking inquiry.

Labour MP Chris Bryant made the call in reaction to Sir Paul Stevenson's comments to the Leveson Inquiry.

The former Scotland Yard commissioner said Mr Malthouse, who is responsible for policing in London, told him the investigation should be scaled back.

Mr Malthouse said his role was to probe the allocation of police resources.

But the shadow home affairs minister claimed the comment "makes it clear that from the highest political level" London Mayor Boris Johnson and Mr Malthouse, who chairs the Metropolitan Police Authority, had "intentionally sought to close down the phone-hacking investigation".

"In any other country, this kind of political manipulation would be considered wholly unacceptable and corrupt," Mr Bryant said.

"It is no longer possible for Londoners to have confidence in the Met with Kit Malthouse sitting at the top table.

"Kit Malthouse should either resign or Boris Johnson should be forced to sack him."

'Significant resources'

About 90 police officers are involved in Operation Weeting, the police investigation into 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.

In his witness statement to the Leveson inquiry on press ethics, Sir Paul wrote that Mr Malthouse "expressed a view that we should not be devoting this level of resources to the phone-hacking inquiry as a consequence of a largely political and media driven 'level of hysteria'."

Image caption Sir Paul resigned last year amid the phone-hacking scandal

His statement added: "Whilst understanding his desire to maximise the resources devoted to current issues of crime and public safety, I pointed out that the disclosure requirements arising from the civil cases left us with little choice but to invest significant resources in servicing this matter.

"Additionally the nature of some of the revelations of media behaviour, particularly towards vulnerable members of the public, made a reopening of the investigation inevitable, from an operational viewpoint."

Joanne McCartney, Labour's policing lead on the London Assembly, has written to Mr Malthouse asking him to clarify his position over comments made to Sir Paul.

Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick said: "It is quite right for the mayor's deputy on policing to question the commissioner as to the level of resources devoted to an investigation.

"However, once the commissioner has answered, for Kit Malthouse to continue pressuring the Met to back away from phone-hacking is political interference with the commissioner's operational independence."

A spokesperson for Mr Malthouse said he had questioned "the allocation of resources by the MPS in any number of areas, including knife crime, rape, murder and gangs. His job is to hold the commissioner to account".

"The mayor has made it clear that the phone-hacking investigation has to be pursued relentlessly and thoroughly."

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