Exclusive: Metropolitan Police “deleted” phone-hacking emails

Hayman & Fedorcio at the Home Affairs Select Committee

The Metropolitan Police have “deleted” thousands of emails that may be central to the phone-hacking scandal.

Requests were made in June for the disclosure of emails sent in 2006 by Andy Hayman and Dick Federico, who have both given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee.  The requests asked for copies of correspondence between the two men, as well as between Hayman and News International.

But letters sent to AccessDocs have now revealed that the Met deliberately did not keep back ups of any of these emails. The Met said: “the information you have requested is not held by the MPS. Emails over three years old can not be retrieved as back ups are not held.”

When questioned about this policy, the Met took five weeks to provide an answer. Finally, in a letter sent today, the failure to keep email back-ups has been blamed on “cost management”. It explains that, although a form of back-ups are made, they are almost impossible to access – making it impossible for individual emails to be unearthed and examined in connection with phone-hacking.

The letter explains: “This is not a documented policy, it is a configuration setting for our backup software. For cost management reasons back up data is only held for a period of three years.”

“The back-ups referred to are the Exchange database back-ups which are retained for business continuity purposes on tapes – they are not directly searchable for individual e-mails. They are used to restore entire email accounts and take 7 hours. Finding specific emails in the account would then require an additional search would take 16 hours per month restored. Searching for specific key words in emails or for emails from certain named individuals would be in addition to the 23 hours. Therefore this is not something that could be completed within the time constraints of the Freedom of Information Act legislation.”

The letter also stated that “Emails that relate to a specific offence / investigation are captured and recorded on the relevant crime recording information systems.” This, however, does not seem to allow for the possibility that police officers themselves may be involved in criminal activity and cover-ups which might need investigating afterwards.

The documents:

View FOI rejection responses here.

View the MPS’s answers to questions about email back-up policies here.

See also on AccessDocs:

Metropolitan Police withheld dozens of sensitive documents

Andy Hayman’s drinking habits

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2 Responses to Exclusive: Metropolitan Police “deleted” phone-hacking emails

  1. Pingback: Rejoice, rejoice rejoice! - Page 16

  2. Pingback: Phone Hacking: will Scotland Yard ever cough up their secretive stash of emails? « AccessDocs

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