The Met Police has served notices on Trinity Mirror and Express newspapers for more information after revelations that journalists may have illegally paid prison officers for information.
The revelation from deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers at the Leveson Inquiry this morning raises the possibility that the police investigations into the press could snowball yet further.
The inquiry heard that Trinity Mirror is resisting the request and has asked for police to seek a production order. Express Newspapers has indicated they will cooperate via a “voluntary protocol” in a similar fashion to News Corp.
So far there have been 41 arrests during the Elveden inquiry into allegations of corruption including 23 current and former journalists.
Akers revealed that in some cases “where officials have received payments from News International they have also received payments from other newspapers”.
She revealed that one officer at a high security prison is alleged to have received payments totalling £35,000 between April 2010 and June 2011 from News International, Trinity Mirror and Express Newspapers.
Another prison officer at a different high security prison allegedly received payments totalling more than £14,000 from Trinity Mirror between February 2006 and January 2012, the inquiry heard.
Akers said: “”It’s our assessment that there are reasonable grounds to suspect offences have been committed and that the majority of these stories reveal very limited material of genuine public interest.”
The Met are said to be pursuing another allegation that in 2010 News International examined a mobile phone with a view to breaking its security settings. Akers said they are looking into mobile phone thefts in Manchester and north west London which may be linked to such activity.
According to Akers, the final total number of potential News of the World phone-hacking victims has been established at 2,615 – of which, she said, some 702 are likely to have been hacking victims.
She revealed that there have been 101 complaints of computer hacking which the Tuleta side of the police inquiry is looking into. But with a massive eight to12 terrabytes of data to examine, she said this side of the inquiry has much work yet to do.
Intriguingly, the Leveson Inquiry heard today that Will Lewis and Simon Greenberg are no longer acting as the conduit between News Corp’s Management and Standard’s Committee and the police.
The implication appears to be that they started resisting police requests for information in May following adverse publicity surrounding the arrest of Sun journalists in May. Full disclosure was resumed by the MSC on 14 June and police are now said to be only dealing with lawyers acting for News Corp.