Where on Earth is Neville? The Met’s investigative zeal

Interesting excerpt from the interrogation of Assistant Commissioner John Yates by the House of Commons – Culture, Media and Sport Committee on September 2, 2009.

Q1891 Chairman: The evidence which the Guardian produced and indeed gave to this Committee actually came from you originally. It is evidence that was handed over to the court from the police investigation—

Mr Yates: Yes, it was unused material.

Q1892 Chairman:— which reached the Guardian. The key one, which you will be familiar with, is the email and “this is the transcript for Neville”. Why did you not think that it was sufficiently important to interview Neville?

Mr Yates: Well, again we took advice on this and it did form part of the original case and formed part of, what we call, the sensitive, unused material. There are a number of factors around it, some practical issues. Firstly, the email itself was dated, I think, 29 July 2005 and we took possession of it in August 2006, so it was already a minimum of 14 months old, that email, that is the minimum and we do not know when it was actually compiled or sent. We know from the phone company records that they are not kept for that period of time, so there was no data available behind that email. There was nothing to say that Neville, whoever Neville may be, had seen the document and, even if the person, Neville, had read the email, that is not an offence. It is no offence of conspiracy, it is no offence of phone-hacking, it is no offence of any sort at all.

Q1893 Chairman: Sorry to interrupt, but you say there is nothing to say whether Neville had read the email, but you could have asked him.

Mr Yates: Well, if I can finish, there is no clear evidence as to who Neville was or who is Neville. It is supposition to suggest Neville Thurlbeck or indeed any other Neville within the News of the World or any other Neville in the journalist community. Mulcaire's computers were seized and examined. There is nothing in relation to Neville or Neville Thurlbeck in those computers and, supported by counsel latterly and by the DPP, they both are of the view, as we are, that there are no reasonable grounds to suspect that Neville has committed any offence whatsoever and no reasonable grounds to go and interview him.

Q1894 Chairman: Well, it does seem an extraordinary coincidence though that somebody working for the News of the World sends an email, saying, "This is the transcript for Neville" when the chief reporter of the News of the World is called Neville and you think that this is not sufficient to ask Neville Thurlbeck whether he is the Neville referred to in the email.

Mr Yates: Well, there is no evidence of an offence being committed, which is what I said first.