The Crown Prosecution Service has announced that it will conduct a "comprehensive assessment" of evidence held by the Metropolitan Police in the News of the World phone-hacking case.

Director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC said today that the assessment will establish if the material could provide evidence for fresh criminal prosecutions in the case.

The Met's acting deputy commissioner, John Yates wrote to Starmer earlier today inviting him to launch a review of the evidence.

"We are both aware that there remain outstanding public, legal and political concerns," said Yates.

"This is particularly so in relation to the various and recently reported high profile civil cases, as well as the inquiry to be undertaken by the Parliamentary Standards & Privileges Committee."

"As a result, I consider it would be wise to invite you to further re-examine all the material collected in this matter. This would also enable you to advise me and assure yourself as to whether there is any existing material which could now form evidence in any future criminal prosecution relating to phone hacking.

"The conclusions should be provided to you in the first instance for you to then advise me as to what, if any, further action may be required. We both understand that any future action will always be for the police to consider independently."

Last week the Met police requested any evidence of phone-hacking held by the News of the World after it emerged that the newspaper had suspended its assistant editor, news, Ian Edmondson.

Edmondson was suspended by the newspaper over a "serious allegation" of phone-hacking raised in the course of a lawsuit brought against the newspaper by actress Sienna Miller, among the "high-profile civil cases" to which Yates refers in his letter.

The News of the World is currently conducting an internal investigation into the allegation.

A spokesman for the newspaper said today: "We will of course co-operate fully with any inquiries relating to the assessment by the CPS."

Starmer announced in December that there would be no fresh prosecutions in the phone-hacking case following a lack of cooperation from key witnesses.

But the CPS will now conduct "an examination of all material considered as part of the original investigation into Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire and any material that has subsequently come to light", re-opening the possibility of further prosecutions.

Goodman, the News of the World's former royal editor, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working for the newspaper, were jailed in January 2007 after being convicted of hacking into the voicemail accounts of members of the royal family.

Then editor of newspaper, Andy Coulson, who is now Downing Street director of communications, accepted responsibility following the conviction and resigned but has consistently denied any knowledge of the practice during his editorship.

The assessment will be carried out by the principal legal advisor, Alison Levitt QC.

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