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MPs delay naming City firms linked to hacking scandal

The Home Affairs select committee has delayed its decision to publish a list of firms linked to the phone hacking scandal through rogue private investigators.

The committee initially set the Serious Organised Crime Agency a deadline of September 9 to publish the list or it would do so. It will now wait until October 8 before making a decision.

The list contains 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.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is investigating the sector and whether there has been any illegal activity by PIs used by big companies, such as phone hacking or “blagging” of personal banks accounts.

Graham told the committee it would “impede the course of justice” if it published the list of names.

Under the operation, four private investigators were jailed in February for talking banks, building societies and phone companies into revealing other people’s confidential information.

Graham will now conduct an initial two-week “scoping exercise” and report back on October 8.

A committee spokesman says: “The committee has been frustrated by the lack of activity on this issue over the past four years.

“In contrast to the rigorous police investigation of those in the media who are accused of being involved in the unlawful trade in information, little if anything seems to have been done to investigate those in other sectors, such as law and insurance. In addition nothing seems to have been done for the potential victims.”

HAC chair Keith Vaz says: “The Information Commissioner has given the committee an explicit commitment that he will pursue this matter to its appropriate end and that the victims will receive justice. He firmly agrees with the committee that these organisations and individuals need to act within the law.”

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