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Phone-tap tabloid's computers destroyed, court told

COMPUTERS used by 'News of the World' staff were destroyed by putting them "through a grinder" last autumn at a time when News International was being sued for phone hacking and new questions were being asked about the extent of illegal news gathering at the tabloid, a court has heard.

The equipment was "taken out and smashed up" during a phased move from NI's Wapping headquarters in east London to a nearby office building at Thomas More Square.

The destruction of the computers is understood to have taken place around October last year, prior to the launch of Operation Weeting, the London Metropolitan Police investigation into phone hacking which has led to the arrests of 16 journalists.

The shredding of hard drives would have happened long after senior executives were made aware that phone hacking had spread beyond a single "rogue" reporter.

Jeremy Reed, the barrister representing a number of phone-hacking victims who have been selected as test cases in civil damages claims to be heard in January, told a pre-trial hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London yesterday that the destruction of the computers meant that the only NOTW computer still existing from prior to last autumn belonged to the showbusiness reporter Dan Evans.

Mr Evans was sued by the fashion designer Kelly Hoppen over the interception of her phone messages.

Mr Justice Vos, the judge presiding over the civil claims, threw out an attempt by News International to limit the amount of damages that could be awarded against the company. (© Independent News Service)

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