The long-awaited public inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing by undercover police could be delayed for years amid a growing legal row with Scotland Yard.
Newly-published documents reveal the Metropolitan Police is questioning the unprecedented size of the probe.
It says it needs months to assess which former officers need their identities protected – and does not believe all of them should give evidence.
Public evidence hearings may not now start before 2018.
Sir Christopher Pitchford, the inquiry’s chairman, says he needs to hear from all the officers.
The new delays have emerged a week after the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it was investigating whether a Metropolitan Police unit shredded a large number of files that were relevant to the inquiry.
Theresa May, then home secretary, ordered the inquiry in 2015 after serious allegations against undercover officers.
She told Sir Christopher to report back by July 2018, something that is now impossible.
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