Almost 4,000 people are still due to be contacted by police investigating the phone hacking scandal surrounding News of The World, the officer in charge of the police investigation has said.
Sue Akers, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and head of Operation Weeting, told the Home Affairs Select committee on Tuesday that police will contact potential victims "as quickly as possible".
"I have huge sympathy for those who may have been the victims of phone hacking or intrusion into their private lives.
"It must be incredibly distressing to see details of the information held, or speculation about what may be held, about them in the media. This is forcing them to relive devastating experiences," she said.
Only 173 of the 4,000-odd potential victims of phone hacking listed in private investigator Glenn Mulcaire's files have been contacted by the police so far, although the Met are now attempting to contact all those named.
She indicated nobody will be charged in the current police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World until October at the earliest, telling MPs the investigation was “taking a significant amount of time and resources."
The officer denied that her staffing levels were inadequate when challenged by chairman Keith Vaz.
Around 45 police officers are currently working on the case.
Akers hinted the investigation will extend beyond those individuals whose phones were directly hacked into by Mulcaire, suggesting that people who left messages on phones known to be hacked may have suffered a breach of privacy too.
Two News International executives, Will Lewis and Simon Greenberg, will be in contact with the police throughout the inquiry, and Akers has called upon any journalists with potentially relevant information to pass it on the police.