In the Media

Parliament launches inquiry into private investigators

PUBLISHED February 2, 2012

Commons home affairs select committee to investigate after phone-hacking scandal throws light on 'shady world'

Parliament has launched an inquiry into private investigators, after intense scrutiny of the industry during the Leveson inquiry into press ethics.

The Commons home affairs select committee will question senior Metropolitan police officers and the information commissioner next week about the controversial sector.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affair select committee, said: "Recent high profile events, such as the phone-hacking scandal, have thrown light on the sometimes shady world of private investigators. Despite this the industry still remains entirely unregulated."

The information commissioner, Christopher Graham, will be questioned on the Operation Motorman inquiry in 2003 that uncovered widespread use of private investigators and search agents across the newspaper industry.

"We look forward to questioning the information commissioner about Operation Motorman, his position on regulation, and the way in which his office detects, handles, and penalises those who break the law," Vaz said.

"We hope to discover the full extent of the activities of private investigators and to decide whether the public, as well as the reputable side of the industry, should be protected by a regime of statutory regulation."

Lord Justice Leveson indicated earlier on Thursday that he was concerned at an apparent lack of regulation in the private security industry following evidence from representatives of the Association of British Investigators and World Association of Professional Investigators.

Leveson said he was keen to "add weight" to the proposal that regulation of private investigators "should happen sooner rather than later".

The information commissioner will give evidence to the select committee on 7 February alongside representatives from the private investigators' trade bodies. Roy Clark, former deputy assistant commissioner of the Met police, and Scotland Yard commander Peter Spindler will also give evidence.

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