Firstly, The Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, has apparently not broken any law merely by recording, even covertly, telephone conversations with the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, as is reported here by the BBC.
That's to say, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), available at the Office of Public Sector Information website, it is not in any way illegal if the recording is made for the sole use of the person doing the recording using equipment which is under their control. It becomes a civil, not criminal, offence only if a communication (telephonic or e-mail) has been recorded and shared unlawfully; it can be made lawful by seeking the consent of the person being recorded.
This still leaves the important question of why Sir Ian Blair has felt the need to record covertly a conversation with Lord Goldsmith; assuming it is not for any purpose (*) which could rise to a civil liability offence under the RIPA then, being charitable ("as I am, always": you must be kiddin', shurely - Ed.), it is purely for the purpose of serving as an aide memoire.
(*) On the other hand, if Sir Ian Blair is making this recording, and others (we learn), for the purpose of 'back-up' (i.e. 'protecting his own back'), or even as source material for a future autobiography, then use of material from such recordings becomes useable only if he first seeks the consent of those with whom the communication took place.
It is very common, when telephoning banks or insurance companies, or even the local council, to be presented with a recorded voice message informing callers that "calls may be recorded for training or security purposes", etc, and whilst one might not be particularly happy with this it can in no way be described as 'covert'; I have even, in the past, used this technique on my own telephone - although I have not used a recorded message for the purpose when taking calls personally (+), rather I have simply told the person with whom I was speaking that I was recording the conversation - as this has always been when speaking with companies or orgnaisations which were themselves using this same technique then they were hardly in a position to object. (+) - And of course I use a recording machine on my telephone to take messages when I am not available, or do not wish, to take a call myself and the message I leave makes this very clear.
No, what this latest sorry episode from Sir Ian Blair reveals is the extent to which 'Police State Britain' has become a reality and the way in which the mentality of the state apparatchik, which is the only term to apply to someone such as Sir Ian Blair, has taken hold. As I have written several times before, the whole attitude of 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear' exemplifies the way the police in this country now think. On the other hand, if Sir Ian Blair truly believed this mantra, then he would simply have said to Lord Goldsmith something on the lines of: "By the way, your Lordship, I'm going to be recording our conversation - you don't mind, do you?" - the fact that he apparently DID NOT DO SO tells us all we need to know!