Monday 20 November 2017

Irish celebrity caught up in mobile phone hacking scandal

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

A leading figure in the Irish entertainment industry may be the latest victim of the News of the World hacking scandal.

The well-known entertainer, who is a household name, believes they are one of 17 high-profile celebrities targeted by private investigators who were employed by the newspaper.

The Irish star is the latest in a long list of celebrities -- including actress Sienna Miller, footballing couple Wayne and Coleen Rooney and comedian Steve Coogan -- who have fallen victim to intrusion.

The star believes they were "targeted for specific reasons" to obtain information about their personal life.

And sources close to the celebrity have confirmed that to date "the star has not made their family aware of the matter".

The unnamed star is now seeking further clarification from those investigating the scandal but is not currently commenting on the intrusion into their privacy.

A list of questions has been put to investigators by a top Irish lawyer on the star's behalf, the outcome of which will decide if legal action against the News of the World should be taken.

Meanwhile, as the fallout from the scandal hits the media, it has been revealed that the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday are guilty of a staggering 1,200 instances of illegal trade in information.

Crucially, the report also found that the Mail newspaper in Ireland has been directly responsible for a numerous dubious transactions. These were carried out by journalists or by agents, including private detectives working for the paper, according to a report produced by the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK.

Now sources close to the Irish star say the celebrity believes they are the latest victim of the hacking scandal in which News of the World journalists paid police informants as much as £100,000 for their services.

To date, UK police believe royal aides, sports stars, politicians and victims of crime have had their phones hacked. They include actor Hugh Grant, publicist Max Clifford, actresses Sienna Miller and Gwyneth Paltrow, former MP George Galloway, London mayor Boris Johnson, football pundit Andy Gray and ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne.

So far, several cases have been settled in the courts. Sienna Miller won £100,000 damages and Andy Gray received £20,000. Max Clifford brought a private case and received a reported settlement of £700,000.

Journalists hacked into phones themselves and used

private investigators to obtain mobile-phone pin numbers so they could listen to unsuspecting people's phone calls.

Senior Metropolitan Police officers have said that analysis of documents seized in 2005 alongside new information has led them to take a second look at whether more people may have fallen victim to the intrusion.

They admitted the individuals concerned were originally told there was "little or no" information held by police that they had been caught up in the newspaper scandal.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that police were taking "urgent steps" to contact potential victims and warn them of the new development.

Almost two weeks ago, the Met reopened an inquiry into the actions of staff at the News of the World begun in 2005 and 2006 after receiving "significant new information" from News International.

Sunday Independent

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