Public inquiry: Now or later?

July 13, 2011, 7:52 PM GMT+0

Opinion is split on whether a public inquiry into recent allegations of newspaper phone hacking should start immediately, or should wait until the police have completed the criminal investigation which is currently being undertaken.

Just under half of Brits say an inquiry should start as soon as possible, and slightly less say it should wait, our poll has discovered. Overall, more than 80% agree that there should be a public inquiry.

  • 48% of British people think that a public inquiry into allegations of phone hacking should start as soon as possible
  • While 44% say a public inquiry should wait until the police have finished conducting the current criminal investigation
  • 86% of people believe that there should be a public inquiry into the allegations of phone hacking

The poll comes as News of the World was closed last week following allegations of phone hacking. News International, the owners of the newspaper, is currently carrying out its own internal investigation into allegations that thousands of phones, including that of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, were hacked into.

David Cameron has announced a public inquiry into the phone hacking, to be headed by a judge, which will start once the criminal investigation into the newspaper has concluded.

On-going scandal

The Labour party has called for an immediate start to the judicial phone hacking inquiry, so that evidence will not be lost in the aftermath of the News of the World closing. At the end of last week, the Guardian newspaper reported that police were investigating allegations that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to impede inquiry into the on-going scandal.

News International has called this assertion ‘rubbish’.

Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said: ‘If a judge is appointed in a few weeks or a few months’ time, all the [ex-NOTW] staff will have…gone off their separate ways; all the computers, where will they be?’ she asked.

News International itself has clarified that its own internal investigation into the hacking allegations will not be headed by CEO Rebekah Brooks, as had been previously announced, but instead the inquiry will be handled by Joel Klein, a New York-based senior executive at News International’s parent company News Corporation.