Wednesday 29 March 2017

28 journalists 'used investigator at centre of phone-hacking scandal'

James Kirkup in London

AT least 28 journalists at News International commissioned work from the private investigator at the heart of the 'News of the World' phone hacking scandal, an inquiry heard yesterday.

Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press ethics opened with fresh disclosures about the scale of phone hacking and other illegal news gathering methods used by some newspapers, with 'The Sun' and 'Mirror' also dragged into the scandal.

The investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, was jailed, as was Clive Goodman, the 'News of the World' royal editor. The inquiry was told that far from being a "rogue reporter", Mr Goodman was only one of "at least" 28 News International employees identified in Mulcaire's notes.

Journalists from 'The Sun' and the 'Mirror' may also have commissioned work from the private investigator at the heart of the 'News of the World' phone hacking scandal.

The Leveson Inquiry into British press ethics began Monday with disclosures suggesting that illegally accessing phone messages and other illicit news gathering methods may have been more widespread than previously thought.

Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for illegally accessing voicemails for the 'News of the World', which was closed by News International earlier this year. The inquiry heard that names written on the corners of pages in Mulcaire's notes -- which appear to indicate who commissioned work -- included staff at 'The Sun' and the 'Mirror'.

There was no explanation of what sort of work those "corner names" referred to. Not all of Mulcaire's work was illegal.

Robert Jay, counsel for the inquiry, said the police had 11,500 pages of Mulcaire's notes relating to 2,266 "taskings" by journalists and others.

The investigator admitted hacking the phones of model Elle Macpherson, publicist Max Clifford, and the MP Simon Hughes, among others. There was also evidence that he was paid by News International for information relating to Princes William and Harry.

The police found that the investigator intercepted at least 586 voicemail messages from the phones of 64 people, Mr Jay said.

As well as phone hacking, the notes referred to "blagging", obtaining information by deception. The police have 690 audio recordings of such activities by Mulcaire.

James Murdoch, the News Corp chief in Europe, told MPs last week that he was prepared to close 'The Sun' as he did the 'News of the World', if it emerged that the daily tabloid had behaved as badly as the Sunday paper. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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