As I understand it from my conversation with the commissioner this morning, the Met has indeed made a referral to the IPCC about the allegations that police officers received payments. That has been discussed with the IPCC, whose conclusion—again, as I understand it from my conversation this morning—is that the current investigation by the Met should continue, but it is keeping that under review. It is important that we have that independent investigation. There is a wider question about safeguards in the system on which we will want to reflect, given that individual investigations may go awry or may not reach the conclusions that they need to reach. I do not think that that role will be fulfilled by the police and crime commissioners proposed by the Government, because that would create greater risks in such cases in future.
The police do vital and excellent work, solving crimes, bringing offenders to justice, and supporting families of murder victims and others. It is important that that work is not undermined or discredited as the result of any lack of transparency over the phone-hacking revelations. We must recognise that any areas where things have gone wrong must be put right.
Before turning to the case for the public inquiry and what it should consider, may I respond briefly to the points made by the Attorney-General about whether a referral should be made to the Competition Commission? He will know that we have continually called for such a referral, as we believe that it is the right thing to do. I hope that the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, who is in the Chamber, and the Attorney-General will reflect carefully on the points that have been made by Members on both sides of the House about the flexibility within the law to look at the issue again, and recognise the importance of the need, for which we have argued from the beginning, for referral to the Competition Commission. I would simply say that judgments must be fair, but it is also important that they are seen to be fair and that the public have confidence in them.
The Prime Minister agreed today that there should be an inquiry or inquiries into these issues. At the end of the Attorney-General’s speech, he referred to a number of inquiries that were already under way and tried to give us some assurance that that meant that these matters were being taken seriously. He knows, however, that the number of inquiries that have taken place or are taking place now gives no such reassurance. Quite the opposite is true because so many inquiries have not got to the truth in the past. Whether those were inquiries by the PCC or by parliamentary Committees, they were not able to get to the bottom of the truth about what had been happening.