Pressure mounts on Soca to name hacker companies

Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) comes under pressure to reveal UK firms that employed hackers to gather information

The UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has come under increasing pressure to reveal the identity of firms that employed investigators suspected of using hacking and blagging to gather information.

Earlier this week, the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee revealed that Soca had compiled a list of 102 such firms from the UK legal, financial services, insurance, energy and industries.

The committee is investigating claims that the practice of employing investigators to use hacking to gain confidential information is not confined to newspapers such as The News of the World.

The list has remained unpublished for several years, but now MPs want its contents published, which now seems more likely after the departure of Soca chairman Ian Andrews.

Andrews resigned suddenly this week over his failure to disclose that he owns a legal and management consultancy with his wife, Moira Andrews – who works for an investigations firm.

The firm represents a host of multinational companies, including investment banks and law firms.

Andrews was seen by some MPs as the main obstacle to the publication of the list, according to the Telegraph.

The Commons Home Affairs Select Committee is to make an official request to Soca to review its decision not to publish the list.

Soca has classified the list as secret because of concerns that publishing the companies’ names could jeopardise a current Scotland Yard investigation.

The agency has also claimed that publishing the list may breach the Human Rights Act and could taint them with “criminality”.

But committee chair Keith Vaz has said: "It is in the public interest for the information to be available at the appropriate time, not for this saga to drag on."

Earlier in the week, Vaz said that the UK is not winning the war on online criminal activity and is being too complacent about cyber crime.

The committee said in a report that funding and resources for tackling online crime – which includes identity theft, industrial espionage, credit-card fraud and child exploitation – has not been sufficiently allocated.

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