Highly regarded London Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard after its city address, is battling another scandal involving the case of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, following allegations that its detectives plotted with private investigators to hack into email accounts and cell phone of UK’s former Foreign Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the METs, Cressida Dick and NematShafik, Permanent Secretary at DFID.
The plot was said to have been executed in 2009, when detectives from the MET’s anti-corruption and money laundering unit, SCD6, were investigating former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, who a few months ago pleaded guilty to select charges of money laundering and fraud.
According to a report in London’s The Mail on Sunday, the officers involved are those already being investigated over bribery allegations while it investigated Ibori.
A whistleblower, who blew the current scandal in a letter to Britain’s Commissioner of Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, said in 2009, there were fears within the SCD6 which is being funded by the Department of International Development (DFID), that bosses at the DFID were about to withdraw financial support for the unit.
Their fears prompted them to seek the assistance of RISC Management, a private detective agency, to hack into email accounts and mobile phones of the top public servants.
RISC Management is also being investigated for its role in the bribery scandal.
Reports alleged that there were communications interceptions in two cases and an attempt was made in another.
A part of Daily mail report on Sunday reads: “Scotland Yard refuses to say whether the hacking claims are also being investigated. SCD6, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), investigated foreign politicians who laundered stolen assets through Britain. In 2009, there were fears that DFID was about to withdraw its financial backing. It is claimed this prompted a private detective agency with the assistance of serving officers to try to intercept the communications of three powerful individuals who might have knowledge of the threat to the unit.
They were Lord Malloch-Brown, then a Foreign Office Minister; Cressida Dick, then a Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Yard; and Nemat Shafik, Permanent Secretary at DFID.
Last night Scotland Yard declined to answer questions about the hacking allegations. It said: ‘We are not prepared to discuss any details within letters or documents passed to, or seized by, the Metropolitan Police Service.’
Scotland Yard said that it would concentrate only on the bribery claims because there was no evidence ‘at this time’ to suggest hacking took place. A serving officer and three ex-officers turned private detectives were arrested last month in relation to illegal payments. Two of the three were arrested at RISC’s offices in London.
The Mail on Sunday understands that while one of the four was being interviewed, he was shown a copy of a third letter sent to the deputy mayor of London, who is responsible for policing. The letter mentioned the alleged attempt to hack Ms. Shafik’semail and phone but the private detective was not asked about this.
Last night Scotland Yard declined to answer questions about the hacking allegations or whether they now formed part of the SCD6 inquiry.
It said in a statement: ‘This complex investigation continues. We are not prepared to discuss any details within letters ordocuments passed to, or seized by, the Metropolitan Police Service.’
The serving officer arrested last month was a 45-year-old detective constable. He was questioned about claims that he was given cash in return for providing information about SCD6’s investigation into James Ibori, a former Nigerian politician jailed for 13 years in London for fraud and money-laundering.
Lord Malloch-Brown said last night: ‘My relationship with the unit was indirect. I was heavily involved in the Ibori case because there was tremendous anxiety from the Nigerian government about it.
‘Their argument was that surely you should respect Nigerian justice and if there is a case it should be prosecuted in a Nigerian court. So I found myself talking repeatedly to the most senior levels of government in Nigeria, making the case that it was important to hear the case in Britain.
‘I defended the unit and what it was doing at diplomatic levels.’
He added that he had initially been surprised when he first learned DFID was funding SCD6.
‘This was because if the offences were prosecutable in a UK court it struck me it was the core job of the British police to pursue this and not something for the UK’s development budget,’ he said.
‘I was quickly persuaded by Foreign Office and DFID officials that without this support this complex and expensive investigation would lapse.