Irish politicians, developers and celebs in hacking scandal
SENIOR politicians, including former government ministers, Irish property developers and a number of high-profile entertainment figures, have begun liaising with detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service in the UK as they now believe their phones have been hacked by newspapers operating here, the Sunday Independent has learned.
Up to a dozen high-profile Irish individuals have consulted lawyers who have since been liaising with senior detectives in a special unit in Scotland Yard, in relation to "highly-sensitive information" which they assert was obtained from their voicemails.
A number of high-profile businessmen, whose personal lives have been the subject of much scrutiny here, are also among those who have been liaising with the Met unit.
Some of these individuals are currently residing in the United States.
The individuals believe that hacking was used to gather stories and garner intelligence in order to ask questions to back up stories.
Top lawyer Paul Tweed, who is acting on behalf of the list of clients from both the Republic and Northern Ireland, says he is working on information which could blow open the hacking scandal on Irish soil.
"My clients firmly believe that British newspapers here published information which could only have been obtained by hacking their voicemails. It is the only way this information could have found its way into the papers.
"In recent weeks, we have been liaising with the Met unit in relation to a number of high-profile Irish people based in Ireland and the United States.
"We are currently carrying out extensive investigations both in Ireland and in the United States and we have made significant progress and information on the extent of hacking in Ireland, which will come to light shortly.
"However, while the Met unit can provide confirmation in relation to the names of victims of phone hacking by the News of the World private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, they cannot provide confirmation in relation to interference with Irish-based landlines and mobiles.
"As a result, and where deemed appropriate, we will be calling on the gardai to actively investigate these complaints in due course."
Until now, attention into the phone hacking scandal has been focused on the UK, where the Leveson Inquiry into press standards has dealt mainly with British victims.
The judge-led inquiry was launched after the News of the World phone-hacking scandal to examine press practices. Appeal court judge Lord Justice Leveson has been looking at the "culture, practices and ethics of the press" and considering whether media self-regulation works.
Alleged phone-hacking victims including Sienna Miller, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Anne Diamond and Charlotte Church have been giving evidence to the inquiry in recent weeks, being held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Fifty-three alleged victims have now been granted core participant status, meaning they can be represented by a barrister, seek to cross-examine witnesses and make opening and closing statements during the inquiry.
Mr Tweed added: "We are hoping that the gardai will follow the example of the Met in establishing a similar unit to investigate phone hacking in Ireland. It looks like we are going to have to start doing the same on this side of the Irish Sea."