John Yates' evidence is "unconvincing", say MPs

"Had I known in 2009 what I now know, I would have made different decisions", says Met's assistant c

John Yates, the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has just given evidence about phone-hacking to a committee of MPs.

The Home Affairs Select Committee were increasingly hostile to Yates, with Keith Vaz concluding that the view of the committee is that Yates's evidence was "unconvincing".

Yates chose to begin with an opening statement:

Had I known in 2009 what I now know, I would have made different decisions. I can assure you all that I have never lied and all the information I provided to this committee and others has been given in good faith.

"It's a matter for great concern that for whatever reason the News of the World had failed to co-operate. They've only recently provided information and evidence that would have had a major influence on the decisions that I took.

This set the tone for a session in which Yates appeared to be more concerned with clearing his own name than helping to resolve the very serious question mark over the conduct of the Metropolitan police. Asked whether he really expected wrong-doers to co-operate with inquiries, he said "Part of the issue was what were we able to do with NI though their lawyers to get further information."

Frustrated MPs pushed him on this, pointing out that Scotland Yard had thousands of pages of documents sitting in evidence bags - why were these not examined? "The case had gone to court. Two people had been sentenced," said Yates, referring to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire. "What would possibly persuade me in the absence of new evidence to ask those questions?"

Asked whether he had ever received payment from a news outlet, he said he had "never, ever, ever" received payment, adding that the question was "amazing". He did, however, concede that it was "highly probable" that his staff had, given that the Met employs 50,000 people.

Yates was asked about a story in the Evening Standard that he had been pressurised by the News of the World who made allegations about his private life. He refuted the claim:

I categorically state that that was not the case. I think it is despicable, I think it is cowardly. It is not true and it can be proved to be untrue.

Vaz asked whether he had considered resigning. Yates said: "I think that is probably unfair". Clearly, we have a long way to go before the answers about the police failings in this case are found.

Peter Clarke, former deputy assistant commissioner of the Met, is currently being interviewed. Andy Hayman, former assistant commissioner of the Met and Sue Akers, deputy assistant commissioner of the Met will also face the committee in the next few hours.

 

 

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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The public like radical policies, but they aren't so keen on radical politicians

Around the world, support for genuinely revolutionary ideas is strong, but in the UK at least, there's less enthusiasm for the people promising them.

You’re probably a getting a little bored of the litany of talking head statistics: trust in elected officials, parliament, the justice system and even democracy itself has been falling steadily for years and is at record lows. Maybe you’ve seen that graph that shows how people born after 1980 are significantly less likely than those born in 1960 to think that living in a democracy is ‘essential’. You’ve possibly heard of the ‘Pasokification’ of the centre-left, so-named the collapse of the once dominant Greek social democratic party Pasok, a technique being aggressively pursued by other centre-left parties in Europe to great effect.    

And so, goes the logic, there is a great appetite for something different, something new. It’s true! The space into which Trump et al barged leaves plenty of room for others: Beppe Grillo in Italy, Spanish Podemos, Bernie Sanders, Jean Luc Melanchon, and many more to come.

In my new book Radicals I followed movements and ideas that in many cases make someone like Jeremy Corbyn seem positively pedestrian: people who want to dismantle the nation state entirely, use technology to live forever, go off grid. All these ideas are finding fertile ground with the frustrated, disillusioned, and idealistic. The challenges of coming down the line – forces of climate change, technological change, fiscal crunch, mass movements of people – will demand new types of political ideas. Radical, outsider thinking is back, and this does, in theory at least, offer a chink of light for Corbyn’s Labour.

Polling last week found pretty surprising levels of support for many of his ideas. A big tax on high earners, nationalising the railways, banning zero hours contracts and upping the minimum wage are all popular. Support for renewable energy is at an all-time high. According to a recent YouGov poll, Brits actually prefer socialism to capitalism, a sentiment most strongly held among younger people.

There are others ideas too, which Corbyn is probably less likely to go for. Stopping benefits entirely for people who refuse to accept an offer of employment is hugely popular, and in one recent poll over half of respondents would be happy with a total ban on all immigration for the next two years. Around half the public now consistently want marijuana legalised, a number that will surely swell as US states with licenced pot vendors start showing off their dazzling tax returns.

The BNP effect used to refer to the problem the far-right had with selling their ideas. Some of their policies were extremely popular with the public, until associated with the BNP. It seems as though the same problem is now afflicting the Labour brand. It’s not the radical ideas – there is now a genuine appetite for those who think differently – that’s the problem, it’s the person who’s tasked with delivering them, and not enough people think Corbyn can or should. The ideal politician for the UK today is quite possibly someone who is bold enough to have genuinely radical proposals and ideas, and yet appears extremely moderate, sensible and centrist in character and temperament. Perhaps some blend of Blair and Corbyn. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? But this is politics, 2017. Anything is possible.

Jamie Bartlett is the head of the Violence and Extremism Programme and the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos.

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