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It has been reported today that Paul McMullan, a former investigative journalist with the News of the World, is willing to give evidence that Andy Coulson knew about phone-hacking and other illegal reporting techniques were rife at the newspaper.

Today MPs have approved a fresh parliamentary inquiry into phone hacking allegations. After a debate on the issue, MPs agreed the Standards and Privileges Committee should hold an inquiry into alleged unauthorised activity by the media. Unlike other Commons bodies, the Standards Committee had the power to compel witnesseses to give evidence.

News Media News of the World phone-hacking scandal News of the World phone hacking: now Paul Gascoigne is ready to sueTabloid newspaper's actions said to have hindered recovery of vulnerable footballer as he deals with alcohol and drug problems

Jamie Doward and Jenny Stevens

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 15 January 2011 21.43 GMT

Ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne is the latest celebrity to sue the News of the World in the phone-hacking scandal. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Paul Gascoigne, the former England footballer, is to become the latest celebrity to sue the News of the World, alleging that he was a victim of the phone-hacking scandal that has rocked Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

His solicitor, Gerald Shamash, confirmed today that proceedings would be issued within days.

Shamash claimed that Gascoigne was in a vulnerable mental state and that his recovery had been hindered because of the stress of believing that his phone had been hacked. "It has made things even more difficult for his general wellbeing," he said.

Gascoigne has been fighting drink and drug problems for years and been in and out of rehabilitation clinics.

The Observer has now established that the comedian Steve Coogan has also issued proceedings and that Chris Tarrant, the television presenter, and the jockey Kieren Fallon are expected to launch legal actions soon.

There are now at least five law firms representing alleged victims of phone hacking. Lawyers from all five have confirmed that they expect more claims to be filed in the next few weeks.

So far, four people have settled claims against the newspaper before they reached court, including the celebrity publicist Max Clifford.

The increasing number of people who are suing or threatening to sue the paper has raised fresh questions about how widespread the practice of phone hacking was on the newspaper while it was edited by the prime minister's director of communications, Andy Coulson. Senior executives on the paper maintain that the practice was the work of a rogue reporter, Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for his part in the scandal. But many believe that hundreds or even thousands of phones were hacked by a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, while he was working for the newspaper.

Questions are being asked about the role of the Metropolitan police, which was obliged by the Crown Prosecution Service to inform suspected victims that their phones had been hacked.

Paul Farrelly MP, a member of the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee that conducted an investigation into the allegations, said he was concerned that the Met had adopted a new policy towards requests for information from suspected victims.

Previously someone could request that the Met scour its files to establish whether their phone had been hacked. Now Scotland Yard asks for a suspected victim to outline on what grounds they believe their phone has been hacked before making a search.

"We found great fault with the police investigation and to that we can add the conduct of the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS], which simply rubber stamps the Met's totally inadequate handling of the affair," Farrelly said.

John Kelly, of the law firm Schillings, who is representing a number of people seeking damages from the newspaper, said it was important that a comprehensive list of victims was established.

"Unlawfully intercepting phone calls is a massive invasion of privacy," Kelly said. "We will not know the full extent of how widespread this activity was until we know exactly who was targeted. It's in everybody's interest for the Met and News Group to let people know if they may have been a victim. In the meantime, more claims will continue to be brought."

In answer to a freedom of information request, Scotland Yard has confirmed only that there were 91 individuals whose pin numbers, for their mobile phone message services, were found in material seized from Mulcaire.

In a sign of the growing disquiet at the Met's handling of the investigation, the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, announced on Friday that the CPS had agreed to conduct a "comprehensive assessment" of all material held by Scotland Yard relating to phone hacking.

Charlotte Harris, the solicitor representing the sports agent Sky Andrew, who is bringing a claim against the newspaper, said she trusted the assessment would be robust.

"The interpretation of whatever documents or other evidence should not be something that is done by the Metropolitan police alone," Harris said. "An independent eye is welcomed given the civil claims, the reported settlements, the suspension of Ian Edmondson and the new internal investigation by the News of the World."

News International, parent company of News Group Newspapers, said the News of the World would "continue to co-operate with any request from the police or the Crown Prosection Service

David Cameron: Andy Coulson deserves to be given a second chance

PM defends his communications director but refuses to deny claims that Coulson offered to resign

Hélène Mulholland, political reporter guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 January 2011 10.06 GMT

David Cameron said Andy Coulson 'should not be punished twice for the same offence'. David Cameron said today he has given Andy Coulson, his director of communications, a "second chance" following revelations about phone-hacking at News of the World when he was editor and warned that his aide should not be "punished twice for the same offence".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the prime minister stood by his communication chief as he failed to quash weekend reports that Coulson offered to resign for the damage to the government caused by his involvement in a newspaper phone-hacking row.

But he notably did not say, as he as done in previous comments about the affair, that he accepted his PR chief's assurances that he had been unaware of hacking during his editorship of the tabloid.

Cameron said that "bad things happened" when Coulson was editor of the News of the World, but resigned "when he found out about them", which the prime minister said was "the right thing to do".

"I almost think there is a danger at the moment that he is effectively being punished twice for the same offence. I judge his work by what he has done for us ... I gave him a second chance. I think in life sometimes it's right to give someone a second chance. He resigned for what went wrong at News of the World. I would just argue working for the government, I think he has done a good job."

He added: "Of course he was embarrassed, but he has had a second chance from me to do this job. I think he has done the job in a very good way."

According to the Mail on Sunday, Coulson has admitted that the allegations concerning the bugging of celebrities' phones while he was editor of the News of the World are making it harder for him to carry out his duties at No 10.But the paper said Cameron and the chancellor, George Osborne, had turned down his offer to resign, instead offering him total support in his battle to clear his name.

Coulson quit as editor of the News of the World in 2007 over the phone-hacking row, but has always maintained he did not know it was going on.

Since then, a string of allegations have surfaced that have cast doubt on the notion that phone tapping at the paper was down to one rogue reporter, Clive Goodman, acting alone.

Pressed on the claims today that Coulson offered to quit over recent developments, Cameron refused to divulge "private conversations" other than to say that Coulson was "extremely embarrassed" by the reports "as anyone who is human would be".

But the prime minister said that he judged his staff on whether they were doing a "good job", telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Coulson "can't be responsible for the fact that people write articles about him".

It emerged last week that the Crown Prosecution Service is due to undertake a comprehensive review of phone-hacking material, including examining evidence that has emerged since the trial of Goodman, formerly royal editor at the News of the World, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, including revelations published by the Guardian which suggest that phone-hacking was rife at the paper.

Coulson has always maintained he knew nothing about Goodman's actions

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It has been reported today that Paul McMullan, a former investigative journalist with the News of the World, is willing to give evidence that Andy Coulson knew about phone-hacking and other illegal reporting techniques were rife at the newspaper.

Today MPs have approved a fresh parliamentary inquiry into phone hacking allegations. After a debate on the issue, MPs agreed the Standards and Privileges Committee should hold an inquiry into alleged unauthorised activity by the media. Unlike other Commons bodies, the Standards Committee had the power to compel witnesseses to give evidence.

News Media News of the World phone-hacking scandal News of the World phone hacking: now Paul Gascoigne is ready to sueTabloid newspaper's actions said to have hindered recovery of vulnerable footballer as he deals with alcohol and drug problems

Jamie Doward and Jenny Stevens

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 15 January 2011 21.43 GMT

Ex-England footballer Paul Gascoigne is the latest celebrity to sue the News of the World in the phone-hacking scandal. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Paul Gascoigne, the former England footballer, is to become the latest celebrity to sue the News of the World, alleging that he was a victim of the phone-hacking scandal that has rocked Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

His solicitor, Gerald Shamash, confirmed today that proceedings would be issued within days.

Shamash claimed that Gascoigne was in a vulnerable mental state and that his recovery had been hindered because of the stress of believing that his phone had been hacked. "It has made things even more difficult for his general wellbeing," he said.

Gascoigne has been fighting drink and drug problems for years and been in and out of rehabilitation clinics.

The Observer has now established that the comedian Steve Coogan has also issued proceedings and that Chris Tarrant, the television presenter, and the jockey Kieren Fallon are expected to launch legal actions soon.

There are now at least five law firms representing alleged victims of phone hacking. Lawyers from all five have confirmed that they expect more claims to be filed in the next few weeks.

So far, four people have settled claims against the newspaper before they reached court, including the celebrity publicist Max Clifford.

The increasing number of people who are suing or threatening to sue the paper has raised fresh questions about how widespread the practice of phone hacking was on the newspaper while it was edited by the prime minister's director of communications, Andy Coulson. Senior executives on the paper maintain that the practice was the work of a rogue reporter, Clive Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for his part in the scandal. But many believe that hundreds or even thousands of phones were hacked by a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, while he was working for the newspaper.

Questions are being asked about the role of the Metropolitan police, which was obliged by the Crown Prosecution Service to inform suspected victims that their phones had been hacked.

Paul Farrelly MP, a member of the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee that conducted an investigation into the allegations, said he was concerned that the Met had adopted a new policy towards requests for information from suspected victims.

Previously someone could request that the Met scour its files to establish whether their phone had been hacked. Now Scotland Yard asks for a suspected victim to outline on what grounds they believe their phone has been hacked before making a search.

"We found great fault with the police investigation and to that we can add the conduct of the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS], which simply rubber stamps the Met's totally inadequate handling of the affair," Farrelly said.

John Kelly, of the law firm Schillings, who is representing a number of people seeking damages from the newspaper, said it was important that a comprehensive list of victims was established.

"Unlawfully intercepting phone calls is a massive invasion of privacy," Kelly said. "We will not know the full extent of how widespread this activity was until we know exactly who was targeted. It's in everybody's interest for the Met and News Group to let people know if they may have been a victim. In the meantime, more claims will continue to be brought."

In answer to a freedom of information request, Scotland Yard has confirmed only that there were 91 individuals whose pin numbers, for their mobile phone message services, were found in material seized from Mulcaire.

In a sign of the growing disquiet at the Met's handling of the investigation, the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, announced on Friday that the CPS had agreed to conduct a "comprehensive assessment" of all material held by Scotland Yard relating to phone hacking.

Charlotte Harris, the solicitor representing the sports agent Sky Andrew, who is bringing a claim against the newspaper, said she trusted the assessment would be robust.

"The interpretation of whatever documents or other evidence should not be something that is done by the Metropolitan police alone," Harris said. "An independent eye is welcomed given the civil claims, the reported settlements, the suspension of Ian Edmondson and the new internal investigation by the News of the World."

News International, parent company of News Group Newspapers, said the News of the World would "continue to co-operate with any request from the police or the Crown Prosection Service

David Cameron: Andy Coulson deserves to be given a second chance

PM defends his communications director but refuses to deny claims that Coulson offered to resign

Hélène Mulholland, political reporter guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 January 2011 10.06 GMT

David Cameron said Andy Coulson 'should not be punished twice for the same offence'. David Cameron said today he has given Andy Coulson, his director of communications, a "second chance" following revelations about phone-hacking at News of the World when he was editor and warned that his aide should not be "punished twice for the same offence".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the prime minister stood by his communication chief as he failed to quash weekend reports that Coulson offered to resign for the damage to the government caused by his involvement in a newspaper phone-hacking row.

But he notably did not say, as he as done in previous comments about the affair, that he accepted his PR chief's assurances that he had been unaware of hacking during his editorship of the tabloid.

Cameron said that "bad things happened" when Coulson was editor of the News of the World, but resigned "when he found out about them", which the prime minister said was "the right thing to do".

"I almost think there is a danger at the moment that he is effectively being punished twice for the same offence. I judge his work by what he has done for us ... I gave him a second chance. I think in life sometimes it's right to give someone a second chance. He resigned for what went wrong at News of the World. I would just argue working for the government, I think he has done a good job."

He added: "Of course he was embarrassed, but he has had a second chance from me to do this job. I think he has done the job in a very good way."

According to the Mail on Sunday, Coulson has admitted that the allegations concerning the bugging of celebrities' phones while he was editor of the News of the World are making it harder for him to carry out his duties at No 10.But the paper said Cameron and the chancellor, George Osborne, had turned down his offer to resign, instead offering him total support in his battle to clear his name.

Coulson quit as editor of the News of the World in 2007 over the phone-hacking row, but has always maintained he did not know it was going on.

Since then, a string of allegations have surfaced that have cast doubt on the notion that phone tapping at the paper was down to one rogue reporter, Clive Goodman, acting alone.

Pressed on the claims today that Coulson offered to quit over recent developments, Cameron refused to divulge "private conversations" other than to say that Coulson was "extremely embarrassed" by the reports "as anyone who is human would be".

But the prime minister said that he judged his staff on whether they were doing a "good job", telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Coulson "can't be responsible for the fact that people write articles about him".

It emerged last week that the Crown Prosecution Service is due to undertake a comprehensive review of phone-hacking material, including examining evidence that has emerged since the trial of Goodman, formerly royal editor at the News of the World, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, including revelations published by the Guardian which suggest that phone-hacking was rife at the paper.

Coulson has always maintained he knew nothing about Goodman's actions

NoW phone-hacking scandal: News Corp's 'rogue reporter' defence unravels

Glenn Mulcaire tells high court that News of the World's head of news asked him to hack voicemail messages

James Robinson guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 January 2011 20.48 GMT

Glenn Mulcaire said in the court statement that several other executives at the News of the World were aware that phone hacking was taking place.

News Corporation's defence that phone hacking at the News of the World was the work of a single "rogue reporter" was on the verge of collapse tonight after Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective at the centre of the case, said the paper's head of news commissioned him to access voicemail messages.

Mulcaire is understood to have submitted a statement to the high court this afternoon confirming that Ian Edmondson, the paper's assistant editor (news) asked him to hack into voicemail messages left on a mobile phone belonging to Sky Andrew, a football agent. Andrew is suing the paper for breach of privacy.

It is also understood that Mulcaire said in the court statement that several other executives at the News of the World were aware that phone hacking was taking place, although he does not name them.

A spokesman for the News of the World said: "This is a serious allegation that will form part of our internal investigation."

Edmondson was suspended by the paper before Christmas after he was named in court documents in a separate case against the News of the World brought by the actor Sienna Miller.

His computer has been impounded as part of the paper's internal investigation and the company is trawling through his emails. He is expected to be questioned after colleagues have been interviewed.

Mulcaire's decision to name Edmondson helps to explains why News Group acted so quickly to suspend him.

Mulcaire's lawyer, Sarah Webb, said: "It's in court documents. I'm not prepared to comment."

The admission by Mulcaire, whose legal fees are believed to be met by News of the World publisher, News Group, which is part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, contradicts the paper's repeated claim that only a single journalist – the former royal editor Clive Goodman – knew about his activities. Executives at the paper, including its former editor Andy Coulson, now David Cameron's director of communications – have stuck to that version of events since Goodman and Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for illegally intercepting voicemails left on mobile phones belonging to members of the royal household.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "We have nothing further to add."

Files seized by police in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire's home show that Mulcaire wrote "Ian" in the margins of a transcript he made of messages left on Miller's phone.

Miller's lawyers had contended that "Ian" referred to Edmondson, an executive at the paper who was hired by Coulson and worked closely with the former editor during his time at the paper.

Mulcaire had a habit of writing the first name of whoever had asked him to conduct hacking in the top left corner of his paperwork. His conviction in 2006 along with Goodman rested partly on the fact he had written "Clive" on his files.

Lawyers acting for Nicola Phillips, a publicist suing the paper for breach of privacy, won a high court ruling in November ordering Mulcaire to name the executives who ordered him to hack into phones.

He appealed against that ruling, however, on the grounds that he could incriminate himself by doing so, and the court of appeal has yet to hear his case.

It is unclear why Mulcaire has decided to name Edmondson now, although it is thought lawyers acting for several other litigants, including the comedian Steve Coogan and the Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray are preparing to make the same request. Murdoch has pledged "immediate action" against anyone found hacking again. News Corporation had fought a long battle to prevent details of the phone-hacking affair becoming public.

The Guardian revealed in July 2009 that News Corp had paid the PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor, and two others a total of £1m in a secret out-of -court settlement in exchange for dropping a hacking case. The documents relating to the case were then sealed by the court. The celebrity publicist Max Clifford received £1m last year in a similar settlement.

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News of the World investigator had Andy Gray's password, court told

Glenn Mulcaire made record of Andy Gray's mobile number, password and pin, says Sky Sports commentator's lawyer

James Robinson and Nicholas Watt

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 January 2011 21.56 GMT

Andy Gray is the latest in a growing list of public figures to take legal action against the News of the World.

A private investigator employed by the News of the World made a record of the mobile number, password and pin belonging to the Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray, the high court was told today.

Gray's lawyer Jeremy Reed said notebooks belonging to Glenn Mulcaire, seized in a police raid of his home in 2006, showed he had also noted the number the former footballer used to access messages. "The only purpose of calling that number would be to go into voicemails," Reed said.

Gray and the comedian Steve Coogan went to the high court today in an attempt to force Mulcaire to reveal which News of the World journalists ordered him to hack into their mobile phones. They are the latest in a growing list of public figures to take legal action against the paper.

Mulcaire's notes also reveal he wrote "Greg" in the lefthand margin. Reed said Mulcaire was in the habit of writing the name of the News of the World executive who had commissioned him and "Greg" referred to Greg Miskiw, a senior journalist at the newspaper at the time.

Gray's lawyer told the court that Mulcaire's phone bills, which were also obtained by Scotland Yard, prove Mulcaire called Gray's mobile more than a dozen times in 2005 and 2006. Mulcaire is refusing to name News of the World executives in this case on the grounds that he could incriminate himself.

He has admitted he took orders from Ian Edmondson, the paper's associate editor, in a separate case brought by the football agent Sky Andrew.

Mulcaire's lawyer Alex Marzec said: "Some documents have been produced by the Metropolitan police that may show [Mulcaire] was interested in Mr Gray. They don't show there is any interception [of voicemail messages] at all."

The hearing was adjourned until 31 January after the judge said Coogan and Gray should submit evidence about which voicemails had been targeted. A full trial has been scheduled for November.

Meanwhile, Andy Coulson, the Downing Street director of communications, is alleged to have used a special email server reserved for senior executives at News International while editor of the News of the World that may contain evidence.

Tom Watson, a Labour member of the Commons culture select committee, made the claim in the House of Commons yesterday as he asked the attorney general about the new Crown Prosecution Service investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the paper.

The existence of the special email server, also used by the News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, may be significant in the new CPS investigation and a separate internal enquiry by the News of the World.

It is understood that emails sent and received by Ian Edmondson, a news executive who was suspended as part of the internal investigation, are being examined. Watson believes that the special server for executives, established to protect sensitive financial information, may contain important emails.

Watson asked the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, in the Commons: "Are the law officers confident that the CPS are giving the right advice? In particular, are they asking the Metropolitan police to examine the separate secure email server used by the News International executives at the grades of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Wade and to examine the existing illegally transcribed phone message made by Ross Hall for Neville?"

Speaking outside the chamber, Watson told the Guardian: "It is absolutely vital now that the attorney general is confident that there is a proper investigation in which all the servers are examined and not just one."

Watson's remarks came after Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, announced last week a "comprehensive" review of all phone-hacking material held by the police. Starmer acted after new information emerged in civil cases brought by celebrities who believe their phones were illegally hacked by, or on behalf of, the News of the World.

In the latest case, Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2007 along with the paper's former royal editor Clive Goodman, submitted a statement to the high court confirming that he had been asked to hack into voicemail messages left on a mobile phone belonging to Sky Andrew, who is suing the paper for breach of privacy.

Ian Edmondson was suspended after the Guardian reported in December that his first name had been written across notes relating to the hacking of Sienna Miller's phone. The Guardian reported last year that a telephone conversation, transcribed by the former News of the World employee Ross Hall, was marked with the name Neville. There is only one journalist on the paper with that first name: the chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck.

Grieve indicated to Watson that the CPS was prepared to examine all relevant material. Citing a letter from the Metropolitan police acting deputy commissioner John Yates ahead of last week's CPS announcement, the attorney general said: "That letter makes quite clear that he wishes to re-examine all the material collected in this matter and to then seek the advice of the CPS and the DPP in relation to it."

Grieve had earlier told MPs: "The roles of the police and CPS are distinct. The police investigate allegations of criminal conduct and the CPS provides them with advise where requested to do so and takes prosecution decisions. The constitutional role of the law officers is to superintend the CPS. The law officers are not involved in the provision of such advice.

"On 14 January the DPP announced that the CPS will conduct a comprehensive assessment of material in the possession of the Metropolitan police service relating to phone hacking following developments in the civil courts cases taking place on this issue. The purpose of this assessment is to ascertain whether there is any material which could now form evidence in any future criminal prosecution relating to phone hacking."

Katherine McKinnell, shadow solicitor general, raised questions about the conduct of the police. "As the attorney general is aware, there have been serious concerns expressed about the handling of the News of the World phone hacking investigations to date. Whilst the announcement of a comprehensive assessment of all the material held by the Metropolitan police service is to be welcomed, could [the attorney general] confirm whether he shares the concerns about the handing of the case to date? Could he also tell the house what prompted this change in direction only a matter of weeks after the CPS announced that there was no admissible evidence upon which they could properly advise the police to bring criminal charges?"

Grieve replied: "The hon lady must understand that any investigation in accordance with the crown prosecutors' code must take account of what information and evidence there is available. If evidence and information becomes available which warrants looking further at the matter then that is exactly what happens. In this particular case evidence or information has emerged in the course of civil proceedings which gives rise to a justification and reason for looking again at the material. That is exactly what the police and the CPS are going to do."

See also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/interactive/2010/feb/24/news-of-the-world-phone-tapping

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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David Cameron met Rebekah Brooks after Vince Cable lost BSkyB power

PM visited News International chief's home over Christmas amid storm over Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of BSkyB

by Nicholas Watt and Dan Sabbagh

The Guardian, Thursday 20 January 2011

Rebekah Brooks lives near to David Cameron's consistuency home.

David Cameron was a guest of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, at her Oxfordshire home over the Christmas period – just days after he transferred ministerial responsibility over Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of BSkyB.

Shortly before Christmas, Cameron stripped Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, of his powers on media takeovers after Cable was recorded telling undercover journalists that he had "declared war" on Murdoch. Cameron handed the responsibility to the Tory culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt is due to decide soon whether to refer the company's bid for BSkyB to the competition commission after receiving a report by the media regulator Ofcom. News Corp is making a £7.5bn bid to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not own.

Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis last night described Cameron's decision to meet Brooks as "extraordinary".

"People will question his judgment at a time when ministers are making a quasi-judicial decision about News Corp's bid for BSkyB," Lewis said. "The prime minister may be in breach of his own ministerial code, which requires openness and transparency. There is an arrogance about this prime minister that is slowly coming to the surface."

A Downing Street source played down the significance of the social engagement and pointed out that Brooks is one of the prime minister's constituents. The source said: "To suggest some kind of impropriety is laughable. The prime minister regularly meets newspaper executives from lots of different companies."

Cameron visited Brooks and her husband, the racehorse trainer and writer Charlie Brooks, at their Oxfordshire home over the Christmas period. Cameron is MP for Witney and his constituency home is near the couple's house.

The disclosure of the meeting comes as News International faces pressure over allegations of illegal phone hacking at the News of the World. Andy Coulson, Cameron's communications director, resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 shortly after the jailing of the paper's former royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire for phone hacking. Coulson has always denied knowledge of illegal phone hacking.

Ian Edmondson, the paper's assistant editor (news), was suspended last month after the News of the World was alerted that Mulcaire would say in evidence that the executive had instructed him to hack the phone of the football agent Sky Andrew.

One senior Tory said that News International's central defence – that a "rogue reporter" was responsible – appeared to be crumbling. "This all appears to be closing in. It has always been obvious there were others. People just didn't know the names."

Cameron, who declined to say on the Today programme earlier this week whether Coulson had offered to resign, said that his communications director was embarrassed by the revelations. "Of course he, as anyone who is human would be, is extremely embarrassed by the endless publicity and speculation about what happened many years ago when he was editor

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Pressure grows on Met's phone-hacking inquiry

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Pressure was growing on Scotland Yard last night to explain its failure to interview senior executives on the News of the World amid claims that its original investigation into the phone-hacking scandal missed potentially crucial lines of inquiry.

Lawyers bringing civil claims on behalf of a number of celebrities who believe their voicemails were intercepted by the private detective Glenn Mulcaire have now highlighted the roles of at least two senior staff members on the News Corporation title whose names apparently appear on phone-hacking records kept by the investigator.

The names, which include Ian Edmondson, an assistant editor on the paper who was suspended last month following the disclosure of documents linking him to the hacking of the actress Sienna Miller's phone, have all been revealed in documents provided by the Metropolitan Police from its own inquiries into Mr Mulcaire.

Neither Mr Edmondson or Greg Miskiw, the former assistant editor who was this week linked to an alleged attempt by Mr Mulcaire to intercept voicemails to the football commentator Andy Gray, were interviewed during the investigation which led to the jailing of the private detective and Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal correspondent. A further question mark was placed over Scotland Yard's inquiry yesterday with the revelation of the existence of a secure server containing emails sent to Andy Coulson, the editor of the Sunday tabloid at the time of the scandal who is now Prime Minister David Cameron's head of communications.

Tom Watson, a Labour MP, called for detectives to examine the server and also reconsider an existing transcript of 35 intercepted voicemails relating to Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, which was marked for the attention of Neville Thurlbeck, the paper's chief reporter. John Yates, the Met's acting deputy commissioner now in charge of the hacking inquiry, has admitted that Mr Thurlbeck, who denies receiving the transcript, should have been interviewed in the investigation.

The long-standing insistence of the NOTW that hacking was restricted to a single "rogue reporter" in the shape of Mr Goodman began to unravel this week after Mr Mulcaire made a statement to the High Court saying he had been commissioned by Mr Edmondson in separate proceedings brought by the football agent Sky Andrew. Mr Edmondson denies any wrongdoing.

Legal sources told The Independent that developments left the Met in an increasingly difficult position. One senior media lawyer said: "As News of the World starts to concede that there may have been other 'rogue' reporters rather than just one, serious questions need to be asked as to why the Met limited its initial criminal investigation. They had papers naming, 'Ian', 'Greg' and 'Neville', why didn't they interview them? It is wrong that they should be tasked with investigating now. Clearing reporters helps clear the Met. It is as simple as that."

Scotland Yard confirmed yesterday that there is no active investigation into the hacking allegations after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced last week a new review of all evidence relating to the interception of voicemails. A spokesman said: "We are awaiting the conclusion of the CPS review. We have also written to the News of the World requesting any new material they may have in relation to alleged phone hacking."

Prosecutors and police have hinted that they are considering widening the hitherto narrow interpretation of the law relating to hacking, which says that a criminal offence has only been committed when a hacker listens to a voicemail before its intended recipient. Redefined guidelines which make it an offence to intercept a message regardless of whether it is new or saved could open the door to more prosecutions.

Mark Lewis, the lawyer who acted for Mr Taylor in a damages claim against the NOTW, said the extent of hacking within the paper remained unknown. He said: "It might suit the paper to portray this as another isolated example, but we need to avoid drawing a conclusion that this was not a widespread practice."

What Coulson told MPs

In 2009, Andy Coulson stated he did not know of "any evidence linking the non-royal phone hacking by [private investigator] Glenn Mulcaire with [anyone at NOTW]", blaming one rogue reporter, former royal correspondent Clive Goodman, for the phone hacking.

Since then, the names of two further NOTW executives, Ian Edmondson and Greg Miskiw, have been apparently linked to phone-hacking records.

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The prime minister's communications chief Andy Coulson has resigned, blaming coverage of the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Coulson quit as editor in 2007 saying he took ultimate responsibility for the scandal but denied knowing phone hacking was taking place. However, recent information, covered up by the original police investigation, has made it quite clear that phone hacking was rife while Coulson was editor of the News of the World.

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Time for some Coulson jokes. Here are the best from Twitter

as reported by The Guardian, January 21, 2011:

Coulson resigns "to spend more time listening to other people's families".

@RopesToInfinity

Show your appreciation for Andy Coulson. Leave him a message of a support on your voicemail.

@davidschneider

Coulson first learned of his resignation when listening to David Cameron's voicemail.

@bristolpaul

Why did Andy Coulson resign? Because he couldn't hack it any more.

@dotsmy and many others

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Rupert Murdoch set to arrive in UK with News Corp mired in crisis

News Corp chief's London visit next week is timely because no significant decision can be taken at company without him

by Dan Sabbagh guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 January 2011 19.04 GMT

Photo: Rupert Murdoch in church with Les Hinton, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Wade. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch is due in London next week, just as his company's attempts to close down the phone hacking crisis are in tatters.

Murdoch tried to keep phone hacking cases out of the courts and out of the public eye through confidential settlements with the likes of football boss Gordon Taylor and PR guru Max Clifford. When that failed, the publisher of the News of the World insisted that phone hacking was the action of a single "rogue reporter" – jailed former royal editor Clive Goodman – and its executives chose to lash out.

Rebekah Brooks – the former editor of the News of the World, the Sun and now chief executive of News International, News Corp's UK arm – blamed this newspaper. When the Guardian reported there were potentially thousands of victims of phone hacking, her message was clear: "The Guardian coverage, we believe, has substantially and likely deliberately misled the British public."

Now, after Andy Coulson's departure from David Cameron's side, it is clear both strategies have failed, just as News Corp tries to win approval for his £8bn takeover of BSkyB. With News Corp mired in crisis, Murdoch's arrival is timely – because in the end no decision of significance can be taken without him at the company he has built over half a century.

News Corp officials say they knew nothing of Coulson's announcement, but even with his departure, senior executives in London know it would be naive to hope his resignation will draw a line under the phone hacking affair.

The company well appreciates that the drip-drip of revelation will only continue as lawsuits brought against the newspaper by actor Sienna Miller, football agent Sky Andrew and publicist Nicola Phillips, and many others, develop. Each case moves slowly, an inching forward of witness statements and court hearings that will last months if not years.

Brooks had been trying, behind the scenes, to settle at least some of the civil claims – involved, lawyers say, in proposing six figure payouts. Recently that strategy has been abandoned in favour of allowing claimants to put evidence into the public domain, and if that amounts to material implicating one of its journalists, taking action against staff.

Allegations loom against reporters, questions remain for former editors like Coulson, while Les Hinton, executive chairman for 12 years until 2007, seemed to be confident hacking was not widespread. Hinton told MPs last year: "There was never any evidence delivered to me that suggested that the conduct of Clive Goodman spread beyond him."

Critical evidence is being extracted from the Metropolitan police. The Met is sitting on notebooks, call records and other information seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by the News of the World in 2006, as part of the inquiry into phone hacking at Buckingham Palace. Each of the celebrities who sue base their claims on their names, or numbers, appearing in Mulcaire's notes.

It was Miller's case, with a high court filing in December, that triggered the suspension of Ian Edmondson, the News of the World's assistant editor (news). Her lawyers noted that Mulcaire had a habit of writing the first name of the person who instructed him in the top left corner of his notes. On Miller's notes it was Ian. It is an example of the kind of revelations that are likely still to come.

Each time evidence from the Mulcaire files becomes available, it is sent not just to the celebrity litigant, but to News Corp's legal team. If Murdoch wishes to view the files, he can do so. What conclusion he will draw is what will drive how his company reacts to the controversy.

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Phone-hacking scandal could dog the government for months

Andy Coulson's resignation is just the start as phone-hacking scandal threatens to create 'greater stench' for Cameron

by David Batty

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 22 January 2011 17.01 GMT

David Cameron has been warned that the phone-hacking scandal that prompted the resignation of his director of communications has just begun to unravel and could dog the government for months.

Political, media and legal experts said despite Andy Coulson's departure the illegal phone hacking by News of the World journalists could still create a "greater stench" for Cameron, Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp and the Metropolitan Police.

Coulson announced his resignation yesterday, following a steady drip of allegations that he was involved in illegal phone hacking when editor of the News of the World, and the likelihood that they would continue through civil court cases and possible police inquiries.

Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair's former chief spin doctor, said the hacking scandal would create a "greater stench" the longer it went on.

"I believe the unravelling of this issue is going to continue apace," he told Sky News.

He also questioned Coulson's decision to quit, suggesting the matter was not so widely discussed as to be a resignation matter.

"I don't accept that this has become so virulent, so dominant that he couldn't do his job," said Campbell.

Tim Montgomerie, editor of the conservativehome blog, said on Twitter that Murdoch, Coulson's former boss, had pushed him to resign amid concern the hacking scandal risked damaging the media mogul's aim to complete a £8.3bn takeover of BSkyB.

He tweeted: "Twas Murdoch who ordered Coulson to go. In Ldn this week the NewsCorp boss knew Coulson at PM's side was driving focus on his papers."

Media analyst Claire Enders told the BBC that questions about News International's handling of the phone hacking scandal were particularly relevant given the takeover bid.

She said that in the circumstances it would be "unprecedented and extraordinary" if NewsCorp avoided a Competition Commission investigation of the bid.

"The NewsCorp share price has risen by 7% in the last week because of a view that it would be able to avoid a competition commission investigation," she told Radio 4.

"Therefore, there is lots of scuttlebutt that negotiations are going on between the minister responsible, Jeremy Hunt, and NewsCorps."

Suspicion has grown that News International was losing the will to fend off, or pay off, civil litigants such as the actor Sienna Miller, demanding to know the identity of News of the World executives responsible for authorising hacking of their phones.

Coulson resigned from the paper in January 2007, the day royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, were jailed for hacking into the phones of members of the royal household. He insisted the hacking was done by one rogue reporter. Coulson was appointed Cameron's communications director in April 2007 and a subsequent police investigation led to no further action.

The Guardian then published claims that hacking was widespread, and the clouds darkened around Coulson before Christmas when Ian Edmondson, the assistant editor (news) and close to Coulson, was suspended pending an investigation that he had been involved in hacking.

Downing Street has insisted Coulson's departure was not precipitated by any fresh piece of damning evidence that would undercut his claim he was unaware that phone hacking was prevalent at the News of the World under his editorship.

However, if subsequent court cases reveal Coulson did know that phone hacking was being used to secure stories, Cameron will have to assert he had been misled by his close ally, or admit that he failed to ask pertinent questions of the man who had represented his views to the country for nearly four years.

Chris Bryant, the former Labour minister who is seeking to sue the police over allegations that his phone was illegally hacked for the News of the World, said Coulson's resignation raised further questions about the judgment of Cameron and the chancellor, Goerge Osborne, who jointly appointed him.

"I'd like to know if Cameron or Osborne asked the Met [Metropolitan police] whether their phones had been intercepted," he told Sky News.

The Metropolitan Police said the Crown Prosecution Service was re-examining the evidence from the original phone-hacking investigation and would not comment further.

Paul Farrelly MP, a member of the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee that conducted an investigation into the allegations, called for another police force to examine the Met's handling of the investigation.

"There's a real issue here of credibility in the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, and it is really important that there is an independent investigation into the handling of this. This happened previously when outside [police] forces were brought in to review the actions of a force such as the Metropolitan police."

Tasmin Allen, a lawyer pursuing a judicial review of the hacking investigation on behalf of the former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, Chris Bryant and others, said the Met's handling of the case lacked transparency.

"If there was no conspiracy, the police handling of the case so far has made it look like there is one," she told the Today programme.

"There's been a huge reluctance from the start to provide any information. It's been like getting blood out of a stone."

In a sign that the phone-hacking scandal is set to gather pace, media lawyer Mark Lewis, who acted for Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers' Association in a damages claim against the Notw, said he was representing four people who believe their voicemails had been intercepted by other newspaper groups.

"This was almost kids' play time. It was such a widespread practice," said Lewis

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Exclusive: Brown asks Scotland Yard to investigate if he was hacked

Murdoch flies in for high-level meetings as Yard faces new questions about its conduct

By James Hanning and Matt Chorley

The Independent

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Gordon Brown has asked the police to investigate whether he was the victim of phone hacking, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. Mr Brown has written at least one letter to the Metropolitan Police over concerns that his phone was targeted when he was Chancellor, during the latter stages of Andy Coulson's reign as editor of the News of the World. Mr Brown's aides last night declined to comment. It is understood that Scotland Yard sought clarification from the former prime minister after his request.

Sources have told The IoS that Tony Blair, his predecessor as prime minister, had also asked police some months ago to investigate whether messages left by him had been the subject of hacking (he did not have his own mobile phone until after he left No 10). Mr Blair and his wife, Cherie Booth, were notably keen to preserve their privacy during their time in Downing Street. Blair's solicitor, Graham Atkins, of Atkins Thomson, declined to comment yesterday, but late last night the former PM's official spokesman denied the story.

The news comes as growing criticism of the Met's investigation into widespread mobile phone message interception by the News of the World is mounting. This week, senior Scotland Yard officers are expected to come under fire when they are questioned about the hacking row by London's police authority. MPs will separately take evidence for a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal and the DPP is to meet top Met officers to discuss existing and new evidence.

Two days ago, Mr Coulson said he was quitting as David Cameron's director of communications after allegations about his time as NoW editor threatened to overshadow the Government's work. He denies having any knowledge of illegal practices during his time in charge, but said continued coverage made it "difficult for me to give the 110 per cent needed in this role".

Downing Street strenuously denies claims that his resignation was demanded by Rupert Murdoch, who owns the NoW. Mr Murdoch's arrival in London is expected imminently.

Mr Brown and Mr Blair are the most senior political figures to be linked to the phone-hacking scandal. In September, The IoS revealed that Lord Mandelson's mobile-phone details and an invoice for research on him were among files seized by police investigating illegal activity by NoW reporters when Mr Coulson was editor. Other Labour figures understood to have been targeted include Lord Prescott, David Blunkett, Tessa Jowell and Chris Bryant.

Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin-doctor, told the BBC the controversy had now gone beyond the issue of Mr Coulson's future and "the role of the police in this is now going to become centre stage".

The lawyer Mark Lewis yesterday revealed he was acting for four people who believe they were targeted by newspapers other than the NoW, which has been under intense scrutiny since its royal editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed in 2007 for plotting to intercept messages left for aides to Prince William. Mr Lewis successfully represented Gordon Taylor, head of the Professional Footballers' Association, in a damages claim against the NoW. There are at least five other lawyers bringing similar cases.

Scotland Yard today faces serious criticism from Chris Huhne for its handling of the case – and its "astonishing" use of undercover officers to target eco-activists. Mr Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, told The IoS that the recent suspension of the NoW executive Ian Edmondson had "dramatically changed the situation, and clearly the police and the Met in particular need to get to the bottom of this".

Mr Huhne also said he and Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, will write to the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, after being told they were added to a secret police database of criminal suspects after speaking at a green protest. He also suggested that the police have "invented" the threat posed by green campaigners to justify ongoing resources.

Scotland Yard is also still trying to contain the fallout from the revelation that Mr Johnson's surprise resignation from the Labour front bench was triggered by his wife's alleged affair with his former police bodyguard.

Labour targets

Tony Blair

The most senior political figure named in the scandal so far, involved in headline-grabbing controversies including the Iraq war and "cash-for-honours".

Gordon Brown

Suspicions that he was targeted while he was chancellor, at a time when his fraught relationship with Blair was a major political issue.

John Prescott

Acting against Scotland Yard over failure to tell him Glenn Mulcaire had listed his name. Demanded judicial review into the Met's "incompetence".

Tessa Jowell

Former minister in running Olympics, whose husband was involved in a high-profile Berlusconi case, was told her phone had been hacked.

Lord Mandelson

The IoS revealed his details were among lists of data seized by police investigating phone hacking during Andy Coulson's time as editor.

Peter Kilfoyle

Ex-Liverpool MP said he had been given confirmation his name was on a list of numbers uncovered by police investigating phone hacking.

Chris Bryant

Former Foreign Office minister who learnt police had found his details when they raided Mulcaire's office. Bringing his own case against the News of the World.

David Blunkett

The former home secretary feared his phone had been hacked after reports of his affair with Kimberly Quinn appeared in the News of the World.

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The latest aspect of this story is that Gordon Brown asked police if his phone was hacked while he was prime minister, a source close to him has confirmed. Scotland Yard has not yet answered Mr Brown's inquiry, made some months ago. If the answer was no they would have said that straight away. If the answer was yes, why was he not told at the time?

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The Andy Coulson affair raises the question – who runs Britain?

The deafening silence from political leaders reveals the grip Murdoch's empire has over the establishment

by Jackie Ashley guardian.co.uk,

Sunday 23 January 2011 20.30 GMT

Westminster stories have a simple arc – the scandal; the uncovering; the refusal to resign; the resignation; and closure. Sometimes the period from the first intimation of scandal to the resignation can be a matter of hours. Sometimes it drags on for months. But it usually ends in resignation, which is a form of cleansing, and then the caravan moves on.

So the Andy Coulson story seems on the surface to have a typical shape. The former tabloid editor and Cameron spin doctor denies any involvement in phone-hacking. David Cameron insists he is staying. But the story won't die. So Coulson goes, to a chorus of remarkably benign political obituaries. And we have closure. This newspaper, above all, can warmly congratulate itself; job done.

Yet this is a mistaken way of seeing what has happened, and still is happening. There should be no closure, no business as usual, no letting up. Because the practice of often illegal surveillance by hacking into phones, using eavesdropping technologies and stealing documents continues. This isn't just about Coulson, or the News of the World, or even News International. Many other newspapers have been doing the same.

It is not just a historical problem. One of the earlier targets, currently engaged in legal action, told me: "If you think all this stopped some time ago, you have to be bloody joking." She was told only last month that there had been yet another attempt to hack into her voice messages. The practice is endemic. Shrewd editors have passed the really dirty stuff "offshore" – to self-employed dirt diggers – but they are happy to buy and publish the results. The list of targets is apparently much wider than the investigations so far have shown, and is unlikely to be kept under wraps for much longer.

So what, you might ask. The hackers' targets have been politicians, members of the royal family, the agents of the rich and famous, sports stars and anyone vaguely famous. Why should they be shown the slightest sympathy? Aren't they all in the celebrity game anyway? Why should the privacy of their conversations be respected?

It is a reasonable objection, except that the circle of possible targets constantly expands as the celebrity business sucks in more raw material. Basically, anyone who has ever been known for anything, whose name might sell another half a dozen copies, is a potential target. This goes way beyond a few sleazy texts or phone messages, too. It's about pinpointing people's whereabouts, their financial and health secrets and their friendships. There is a network of peeping all around us that is becoming dangerous, even if it is so far little noticed or understood. If you know the right people, it seems to be easy to find out all sorts of private information. A few years ago, I met someone with good police contacts who casually remarked that he could get me the bank records of someone I was curious about. I wouldn't touch that kind of journalism with a barge pole, but I got the impression he thought me unnecessarily fastidious.

To believe that Coulson's resignation stops this, or even much affects it, is like thinking a snow shower disproves global warming. The net may be tightening round one paper, and its owner, Rupert Murdoch; but that's not the half of it.

Here's the problem. Normally, when something goes wrong we would expect it to be uncovered by the media, or MPs or the police. In this case, so many newspapers are implicated that it's naive to expect proper investigation of the story, still less demands for a change in the law. Much of the focus on Coulson was driven by editors who simply wanted the phone-hacking scandal to disappear, and hoped that his scalp would end any further scrutiny. That now seems unlikely.

What about MPs? Where is the chorus of outrage from Westminster, where so many members have been targeted? You might expect this to be a huge issue in the Commons, not least because it might be seen as just retribution and revenge for journalists' exposure of MPs' expenses.

There are MPs campaigning on this. But the silence from the party leaderships, where the power lies, has been deafening. And the reason is bleakly clear. Look at the reports and see the photos from any of Murdoch's summer parties, where the political class and the News International elite schmooze. There is no crude political favouritism here. At the Orangery in Kensington or the Oxo tower, you find Cameron, Lord Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, both Miliband brothers, Ken Livingstone, Nick Clegg, George Osborne – etc, etc – mingling with the News International chief, his family and his courtiers.

That is only one example of the close ties woven between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, when they were prime ministers, and Cameron now, and the Murdoch camp – the private meetings and dinners, the calls (no hacking there) and the mutual interest. We once used to think of the establishment as being cabinet ministers, archbishops, BBC panjandrums, leaders of industry and royalty. No longer. It's the links between the government and the Murdoch empire that count today – a shadowy influence-mart.

We need a thorough-going clean up of the rules by which individuals can be spied on and harassed. But who can we turn to? There have been dark mutterings of police collusion and apathy. They have certainly not rushed to inform those who have been targeted. Many politicians feel intimidated, fearful of what the press might do to them if they do raise concerns. I have spoken to several MPs who are suspicious about the way cameras appeared as if by chance – but they will only talk off the record.

The answer is that MPs of all parties have to understand this is just as much a question of authority, of "who runs Britain?", as Europe or the dominance of the bankers. We get steamed up about CCTV cameras and the big state, and rightly so. But what about privately sponsored snooping and the Big Hack? If the legislature is intimidated by newspapers, it is not worthy of respect and cannot be relied on to protect anyone else. We seem to be living through a digital age of exposure, much of it driven by the press. Now, perhaps, it's time to shine the light on the one profession that has too often been able to work quietly, in the shadows, without full disclosure or scrutiny – journalism.

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The latest aspect of this story is that Gordon Brown asked police if his phone was hacked while he was prime minister, a source close to him has confirmed. Scotland Yard has not yet answered Mr Brown's inquiry, made some months ago. If the answer was no they would have said that straight away. If the answer was yes, why was he not told at the time?

Phone-hacking scandal: Scotland Yard accused over investigations

Chris Huhne has criticised handling of allegations as Gordon Brown asks police to establish whether he was a victim

by Polly Curtis and James Robinson

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 23 January 2011 19.48 GMT

Criticisms of the police handling of the phone-hacking scandal intensified tonight after a senior minister accused Scotland Yard of failing to properly investigate the allegations, while it emerged that Gordon Brown has asked police to establish whether he had been a victim.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, cast doubt on News International's claims that hacking was the work of a "rogue reporter". He criticised the initial handling of the allegations by the police and accused them of reacting to his calls for a full inquiry last year by "scurrying back to Scotland Yard" and dismissing the idea in an afternoon.

"It seemed to me clear that the number of people that were being hacked clearly was not consistent with it being one rogue reporter who happened to be the royal correspondent. Why would the royal correspondent be interested in hacking the voicemails of Simon Hughes, my colleague who is a Liberal Democrat MP, for example?" he told the BBC's Daily Politics.

"We know the police were not keen on the subject because when I called for a very clear review of this, the police scurried back into Scotland Yard, spent less than a day reviewing it and popped out again in time for the six o'clock news to say they had discovered no further evidence."

Asked whether he thought the police had been deterred from carrying out a full investigation after their failure to make charges in Labour's "cash for honours" scandal, he said: "I certainly think that may well have played a part of it because obviously they had been through a very thorough investigation there and they got nowhere, so they may have decided that messing with the political process was something that they didn't want to bother doing." He quickly added: "I really don't know, I mean you'll have to ask a police officer that."

Huhne's intervention is a guarantee that the row over phone hacking won't disappear with Andy Coulson's resignation as director of communications from Downing Street last week. The former editor of the News of the World stepped down claiming that the continued controversy over phone hacking was making it difficult for him to do his job.

MPs will this week begin gathering evidence for a parliamentary inquiry into the row, while CPS lawyers are expected to meet senior Met officers to discuss the evidence around phone hacking shortly. The Metropolitan Police Authority is also expected to grill senior Met officers on the case during a routine meeting this week.

Sources confirmed that Brown wrote to the police this summer asking for an investigation into whether he was a victim of hacking while he was chancellor. It is understood he is concerned about messages he received and those he left for other people. The Met has replied asking for clarification about his claims. Today, Brown's aides refused to comment.

But Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour party, called for a new investigation. "Hacking into people's phones is illegal. Obviously the criminal law has got to be complied with and if it is broken then it should be investigated by the police and it should be enforced," she told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.

"Nobody is above the law, no newspaper editor, no journalist … For all of David Cameron's talk of trust in politics it's fundamental that people obey the law and that's what's at risk here. He should never have appointed him."

Nick Clegg today suggested that as deputy prime minister he would have a role in choosing Coulson's successor. He said it was "primarily" David Cameron's job to find a replacement, adding "of course I will play a role as well".

He said the scandal had not altered the coalition's path. "I don't think this government will miss a beat in terms of just pressing ahead with the plan that we've set out for the next four-and-a-half years to try and restore sense to our economy, create a sound economy, create a fairer society, and to reform our politics as well so that people trust in politics once again."

News Corporation's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, will fly into London this week en route to the Davos World Economic Forum with the UK arm of his media empire facing the biggest crisis since the Wapping strikes 25 years ago, and at a time when the £8bn bid for BSkyB hangs in the balance. Murdoch is likely to discuss the hacking scandal with News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and other executives during the visit, and will have access to the legal files relating to several cases currently going through the civil courts. An aide to the prime minister tonight said that she had no knowledge of any meetings planned between Murdoch and Cameron, or any other minister.

The company is seeking to draw a line under an affair which now threatens to engulf other titles. Mark Lewis, the solicitor who represents Nicola Phillips, a publicist who is suing the News of the World for breach of privacy, revealed this weekend that he is representing several other potential claimants whose mobile phones have allegedly been hacked by journalists on other papers. They are understood to include former Labour MP Paul Marsden.

Labour MP and former minister Tom Watson said: "Rupert Murdoch has to deal with the unaccountable senior executives that have let this saga go on for too long. We need a statement from him this week."

The culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is expected to decide early next month whether to refer News Corp's bid to buy the 61% of BSkyB it does not already own to the Competition Commission. Executives have been anxious to meet Hunt to make representations to him.

Tories inner circle

David Cameron's inner circle has been left with no one with experience of life for ordinary people in Britain and is now exclusively made up of people from "well-off backgrounds", according to senior Tory backbencher David Davis. "There are exceptions – there's Eric Pickles and Sayeeda Warsi in her younger days," he told the BBC yesterday, "but nevertheless in the inner circle ... there won't be anyone now that brings what Coulson brought to it. There he was, an Essex boy, council-house lad, made his own way in the world and frankly never minced words. He was somebody who brought that gritty, slightly tough but necessary mindset to the Conservative leadership's thinking."

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Rupert Murdoch flies in to UK as News Corp stays silent on phone hackin

gCompany not divulging what tycoon's son James was told when he signed off £700,000 payment to football chief Gordon Taylor

by Dan Sabbagh guardian.co.uk,

Monday 24 January 2011 20.36 GMT

News Corporation refused to say today what Rupert Murdoch's son James was told about evidence of phone hacking by News of the World journalists when he signed off a £700,000 settlement with the football chief Gordon Taylor.

The company declined to comment on any of a set of questions asked by the Guardian about which board members were made aware of the fact that the practice of phone hacking extended beyond the former royal editor Clive Goodman, and the reasons for payouts to Taylor and the public relations specialist Max Clifford.

News Corp also refused to reply to further questions about what was discussed at a social meeting between David Cameron, James Murdoch and its UK chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, over the Christmas period.

Rupert Murdoch today spent the day at News International's Wapping offices in east London, where he had lunch in the company canteen with his son, Brooks, Dominic Mohan, the editor of the Sun, and James Harding, the editor of the Times.

There has so far been no explanation as to why James Murdoch, the chief executive of News Corp's operations in Europe and Asia, decided to sign off the payment to Taylor. One friend of Rupert Murdoch's younger son said he had failed to appreciate the significance of the hacking allegations until recently.

The source said: "He had been slow to get on top of the issue until recently, because he's been so focused on getting News Corp's bid for Sky through. He's now done so, but the problem is that it's a bit late."

Back in 2009 Colin Myler, then editor of the News of the World, told MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee that it was James Murdoch who had agreed to settle in the Taylor case, on the advice of himself, the newspaper's chief lawyer, Tom Crone, and their legal team.

At that time Myler said: "Mr Crone advised me, as the editor, what the legal advice was and it was to settle. Myself and Mr Crone then went to see James Murdoch and told him where we were with the situation. Mr Crone then continued with our outside lawyers the negotiation with Mr Taylor. Eventually a settlement was agreed. That was it."

But there has been internal criticism of James Murdoch's handling of the row, with a second source close to the company asking why he thought it wise to attend the Cameron dinner at a time when his presence would invite controversy, given that News Corp is trying to win political approval for its £8bn bid for Sky in the teeth of opposition from rival newspapers including the owners of the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and the Guardian.

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News of the World phone hacking: 12 questions from the Guardian

Rupert Murdoch is in London – and we're curious to know who at News International signed off more than £1m in settlements

Guardian

January 24, 2011

Today, Rupert Murdoch is over at News International's Wapping headquarters, where he was seen having lunch with Rebekah Brooks and senior editors in the sixth-floor canteen. No doubt the conversation was pretty amicable, but on the off chance that the media mogul wants to ask some questions about phone hacking at the News of the World, here's some we had in mind.

The Guardian has already asked News International the same questions, and we will publish any answers we receive. Essentially, though, there are two key questions.

First, who at News International (or indeed at parent company News Corporation) agreed to make settlement payments to Gordon Taylor and Max Clifford to end phone-hacking cases?

More to the point, when they did so, what legal advice did they receive? After all, it would be an incurious board member who agreed to write out a six-figure settlement cheque, but who did not ask why. Was the person authorising the payment told that there were references to the potential involvement of other News of the World reporters in alleged phone hacking? Or is there another reason why six-figure settlements are appropriate?

So here we go.

1. Which directors of News International signed off the reported £700,000 settlement with Gordon Taylor?

2. Which directors of NI signed off the reported £1m settlement with Max Clifford?

3. Who wrote the advice to directors that formed the basis of the two settlements agreed? Was it (head of legal) Tom Crone?

4. Were board members advised when settlements were proposed that there was no new evidence to link any reporter other than Clive Goodman to phone hacking?

5. Was the director or directors of NI who signed off the Gordon Taylor settlement made aware that Taylor's lawyers had evidence that two News of the World journalists were involved in hacking?

6. Have settlements been proposed in any of the other outstanding legal cases and, if so, by which board members?

7. When did the News of the World and News International first realise that there was evidence to suggest that reporters other than Clive Goodman may have been involved in phone hacking?

8. Was the News Corporation board advised as to why settlements in London (Taylor, Clifford) were agreed?

9. Why did James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks meet David Cameron over the holiday period? Was Andy Coulson's departure discussed?

10 Was News Corp's bid for Sky discussed at that meeting? Were concessions offered to the prime minister at that dinner, such as 'hiving off' Sky News?

11. Will Rupert Murdoch review the phone-hacking evidence that has been revealed by the outstanding civil actions when he is London?

12. When precisely did Rebekah Brooks meet the prime minister? Was it before, or after, News Corp had received Ofcom's conclusions of its 'public interest' inquiry into the News Corp/Sky takeover?

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