Sunday, March 12, 2006


By Ian Kirby

BRITAIN'S top policeman has been caught secretly recording a private phone call to a senior government minister, the News of the World can reveal.

Metropolitan Chief Sir Ian Blair made the digital recording without permission in August, shortly after officers shot Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, wrongly thinking he was a suicide bomber.

The taping—a clear breach of protocol—was of a private one-to-one talk with a senior minister from outside the Home Office.

Our revelation comes after it emerged Sir Ian had also secretly recorded three conversations with Independent Police Complaints Commission officials investigating the de Menezes shooting. They included IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick.

Blair's conduct in the wake of the shooting is being investigated by the IPCC. It is understood two further conversations were recorded by Blair in his private office on Scotland Yard's 8th floor without the other person's knowledge.

The minister involved in the "important" call with Blair was last night said to be livid about the "gross breach of trust".

A Whitehall source said: "He thinks it's unbelievable that the Commissioner could behave so disgracefully—and wants an apology."

At the very least his behaviour will be seen as highly unprofessional. Blair is currently on a ski holiday while his most trusted aides transcribe the recordings to analyse how damaging they are.

Last night senior Whitehall and police sources described the revelation as "explosive" and the reasons for the bugging "a mystery".

One police source said: "Why on earth did he feel he needed to do it? Only he knows. "It's bizarre. He's shot himself and the Met in the foot again."

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