Stephenson admitted at the Leveson inquiry on Monday morning that he had not read the Guardian article in 2009 featuring new revelations about the extent of phone hacking by the News of the World.
Stephenson told Leveson he heard about the article on Radio 4 while driving to Manchester for a police conference and considered it was just another "piece of noise" and not a priority for him.
He asked the deputy assistant commissioner, John Yates, to investigate and was happy when he reported back later the same day to say that there was nothing of substance in the article.
"It was not a priority for me as a commissioner, it remained one of the many, many pieces of noise that was being dealt with," said Stephenson.
He later admitted that he could not see what the point of the Guardian's campaign was following a meeting with the editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger. He was being briefed by Met officers that no new investigation was warranted. "I just did not get the difference [between what the Guardian was alleging and what Stephenson had been told by Yates]," he said.
Leveson put it to Stephenson that this was a cursory "back of the envelope" decision and that Yates could have come back to him to say more time was needed to review the situation. Leveson said it was not "a white heat moment" that required a decision that day.
Stephenson said he occasionally had meetings with Yates after this when it was apparent the phone-hacking story "wasn't going away, particularly after the New York Times article in September 2010".
This article contained fresh allegations by a former News of the World reporter, the late Sean Hoare, that Andy Coulson had been aware of phone hacking when he edited the paper. But Stephenson said he was happy with the briefing he got from Yates right up to December 2010 when he became ill.http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/ma ... ng-inquiry
Boris Johnson's deputy complained 'several times' about hacking inquiry - Kit Malthouse voiced concerns to Met that it was devoting too many resources to phone-hacking investigation