MPs push to name City firms linked to hacking scandal

MPs have given the Serious Organised Crime Agency seven days to decide whether to publish a secret list of around 100 City companies who hired rogue private detectives, or MPs will publish the list themselves.

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The Financial Times reports the home affairs select committee has threatened to make the list of firms public themselves under parliamentary privilege should the agency fail to do so within the deadline.

Speaking to Soca representatives yesterday, committee chair Keith Vaz says: “The committee has taken the view that this list should be published. We would like you to publish the list. We see nothing wrong with you publishing the list.”

Soca director-general Trevor Pearce told the committee: “Anything that has the potential to impact on an investigational inquiry meets for me the threshold for maintaining confidentiality and I think it is appropriate to stick by that precedent.”

But Vaz said all possible steps had been taken to ensure that publishing the names would not prejudice ongoing police inquiries.

He said: “We know it has gone to the Met [Metropolitan Police] and we know they have removed the names that are subject to criminal investigation. We give you till Monday to publish this list, if you fail to publish it on Monday, we will publish it because we think it is in the public interest to do so.’’

After the hearing, a Soca spokesman told the FT: We have made our position clear, but in light of the request… we will seek advice and inform the committee of our decision by Friday.”

Money Marketing reported in August that a list of 94 companies linked to rogue private investigators had been given to MPs by Soca. Soca asked the committee not to publish the list, though Vaz said last month he was keen to see the list published.

The list has nine insurers, eight “financial services” firms, one venture capitalist, two accountancy firms and one auditing firm which have all been linked to rogue private investigators during an inquiry into the PI industry.