The Metropolitan Police Authority is in session and Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM is in the Chair – the first meeting since Sir Paul Stephenson resigned as Commissioner and John Yates as Assistant Commissioner. The meeting is subdued and rather tense.
Tim Godwin, the Acting Commissioner (or that is what is name badge says, but apparently he is Temporary Commissioner which has a slightly different legal status), and Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Acting Deputy Commissioner (again this is what it says on his name badge, but apparently he has neither “Acting” or “Temporary” but is seconded into the Metropolitan Police from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary to “fill the role”; he is the former Chief Constable of Merseyside) are present. Tim Godwin is choosing his words with care and Bernard Hogan-Howe, who has so far said nothing, is looking as though he wonders what he has got himself into.
The meeting started with twenty-two questions tabled by Jennette Arnold AM on issues surrounding the investigation of the murder of Daniel Morgan and the “intervention” in it of the News of the World. The Acting Commissioner responded by saying that he was not able to answer any of these as they were all subject to other investigations. I asked for some clarity on precisely which investigation covered which question and was promised that this would be circulated when it was clear.
The meeting then spent a happy half hour pursuing questions initially raised by Jenny Jones AM and Joanne McCartney AM aimed at establishing whether Mayor Boris Johnson had been briefed about continuing police investigations into phone hacking when he described the continuing concerns as “codswallop” and “a put up job by the Labour Party”. In the end Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM had to explain that the “Mayor likes to express himself in a particular way” and, when asked (by me) whether the Mayor sticks to the briefings he receives, to say the “Mayor knows his own mind”. I am not sure anyone was terribly reassured or satisfied.
And finally – nearly two hours into the meeting (and not before time) – the Authority moved on to more general policing issues, such as knife crime, murder, street crime etc.