Phone hacking: IPCC oversees police payments inquiry

The investigation into claims officers were paid by the News of the World will be overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The watchdog's deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass said she would personally supervise the "robust" inquiry to give "independent oversight".

The Met said it had formally referred documents from the tabloid's publisher News International to the IPCC.

Newspaper reports claim several people are likely to be arrested within days.

Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said he had asked the IPCC to supervise the force's internal investigation.

'Root them out'

"The allegations are alleging that a small number of officers may have taken illegal payments. That is fundamentally corrupt," he told the BBC.

"If true, I will be determined to root them out, find them and put them in front of the criminal court. That would be a corrupt act.

"I was very concerned right from the outset that we are transparent about this, so on the 22nd of June we immediately took this matter to the IPCC."

Image caption Andy Coulson is alleged to have authorised payments when News of the World editor

He added: "I'd be a very foolish commissioner indeed if I didn't think that out of some almost 55,000 people, a small number of those weren't going to be corrupt."

Ms Glass said she shared public concerns expressed on Wednesday about police officers allegedly being bribed by newspapers.

"It is obviously crucial that the officers involved are identified," she said.

"I will personally supervise this investigation to give independent oversight and ensure that it is robust in its attempts to identify any officer who may have committed an offence. "

She added that the public's confidence has been "understandably shaken" by the allegations.

Details of the alleged payment to officers by the News of the World emerged on Wednesday after e-mails were sent to police by News International as part of their internal investigation.

They allegedly showed officers were paid tens of thousands of pounds.

They are also said to show that payments were authorised by Prime Minister David Cameron's former spokesman, Andy Coulson, when he was editing the News of the World.

The Evening Standard newspaper claims bribes were made to officers in "sensitive" positions in return for confidential information.

It says several "high profile" staff at the News of the World and officers concerned are likely to be arrested within days.

The Met's deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers said: "We recognised the gravity of this case from the outset and involved the IPCC at the first opportunity.

"I strongly believe in and welcome independent oversight, especially in a case such as this, where public confidence in the police is seriously at risk."

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