Scotland Yard Scotland Yard Credit: Alberto OG on Flickr. Some rights reserved
The Metropolitan police has referred an internal investigation into payments made to officers by the News of the World to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A statement from the Met today said that, "in view of the significant public and political concern", it had reviewed its decision to assign the investigation to the Metropolitan Police Service.

The MPS intially met with the IPCC in June, to discuss emails handed to the Met by News of the World parent company News International which contained evidence that "a small number" of officers had been paid for information.

The two bodies agreed the MPS would conduct the investigation and if any officers were identified the individual cases would be referred to the IPCC.

But following a series of developments in the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, including the revelation that emails containing evidence of payments were passed to the Met in January, the investigation will be shifted to the IPCC.

MPS 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."

The Evening Standard reports today that Met police officers received more than £100,000 in illegal payments "from senior journalists and executives at the News of the World". It adds that "high profile" News of the World staff and police officers may be arrested within days.

Met police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson yesterday acknowledged that payments had been made to officers, but denied that any senior officers were involved.

News International chief executive and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks, who has come under increasing pressure this week to resign, told a parliamentary committee in April that she had "no specific knowledge" of payments to the police.

But Brooks had previously seemed to admit before the committee in 2003 that she was aware of the practice taking place at News International titles.

She told MPs at the time: "We have paid the police for information in the past." When asked if the news organisation would do it again in future, she said: "it depends".

Brooks later said she had been responding "to a specific line of questioning on how newspapers get information".

"My intention was simply to comment generally on the widely held belief that payments had been made in the past to police officers.

"If, in doing so, I gave the impression that I had knowledge of any specific cases, I can assure you that this was not my intention."

Image by Alberto OG on Flickr. Some rights reserved

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