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Met police chief admits secretly recording call by Attorney General.

Britain's top policeman secretly recorded a phone conversation with the Attorney General, it emerged yesterday. Sir Ian Blair has also admitted taping calls with 'senior officials' from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who are investigating the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes by anti-terror police at Stockwell Tube station last July.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed Sir Ian had recorded the conversation with Lord Goldsmith.

A spokesman for the Attorney General confirmed he had not been aware the phone call was being recorded. Lord Goldsmith was said last night to be 'rather cross' and 'somewhat disappointed' at the revelation and to be looking for answers to why Sir Ian took the action he did.

The conversation that was recorded concerned the admissibility of wire tap evidence in court, but did not involve any particular case.

According to Ofcom, the telephone industry regulator, the recording and monitoring of telephone calls is governed by a number of different pieces of UK legislation.

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), it is not illegal for individuals to tape conversations providing the recording is for their own use.

Recording or monitoring are only prohibited where some of the contents of the communication are made available to a third party.

If a person intends to make the conversation available to a third party, they must obtain the consent of the person being recorded.

Under RIPA it is a civil, not criminal, matter if a conversation or email has been recorded and shared unlawfully.

The Metropolitan Police spokesman said, 'We can confirm that a conversation was recorded with the Attorney General.'

Concerning the calls to the IPCC, he added, 'Three conversations with senior IPCC personnel were recorded during the inquiry (into the death of Mr de Menezes). The Metropolitan Police Service has not sought to conceal that conversations were recorded and volunteered this information to the IPCC.'

The IPCC officials reportedly included chairman Nick Hardwick, who was leading the de Menezes probe.

A spokesman for the de Menezes family said they did not want to comment.

A spokesman for the IPCC said the taped conversations came to light as part of its inquiry in the aftermath of the Stockwell shooting.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 13, 2006
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