Saturday 24 February 2018

Dead soldiers' relatives may have been targeted

Tom Morgan in London

RELATIVES of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been victims of 'News of the World' phone hacking, lawyers said last night night.

The Ministry of Defence was seeking clarification from Scotland Yard as sources said families of dead servicemen were being contacted by detectives over the scandal.

News International said it would be "absolutely appalled and horrified" if there was any truth in the allegations and it would be immediately contacting the MoD.

MPH Solicitors -- whose clients include Samantha Roberts, widow of one of the first Britons killed in Iraq in 2003 -- said they were called yesterday.

"We have been contacted this morning in connection with a possible phone-hacking on our clients, and (solicitor) Geraldine McCool, arising out of high-profile military inquests in 2006/2007," a statement said. "We are making efforts to verify this information."

A News International spokesman said: "News International's record as a friend of the armed services and of our servicemen and servicewomen, is impeccable.

"Our titles have campaigned in support of the military over many years and will continue to do so. If these allegations are true we are absolutely appalled and horrified. We will be contacting the MoD immediately to try and verify the situation."

The new twist in the ongoing saga sparked fury among relatives of dead servicemen.

Graham Knight, whose son Ben was killed in the Nimrod explosion in Afghanistan in 2006, said: "It's disgusting but it doesn't surprise me."

Ms McCool, a senior lawyer, said there was no evidence to show confidential information was obtained through hacking.

She added: "Whilst this developing story continues to shock and concern I confirm that I have never seen a news article that gave rise to concern that information had been obtained through illegal phone-hacking.

"Solicitors are cautious when leaving messages due to client confidentiality and my military clients and their families come from a background that works on a 'need to know' basis.

"I sincerely hope that any future revelations do not involve our clients and that full disclosure of the extent of this diabolical practice is now made."

Sgt Steven Roberts, from Shipley, West Yorkshire, was accidentally shot dead by one of his own men when UK troops opened fire during a riot near Basra, just three days into the war.

An MoD spokesman said: "This is a matter for the Metropolitan Policewho are investigating these allegations.''

Irish Independent

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