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Phone-hacking libel claim contested by Metropolitan police

Scotland Yard applies to strike out lawsuit by solicitor representing victims of phone hacking

By Jamie Doward guardian.co.uk,

Saturday 26 February 2011 20.28 GMT

The Metropolitan police has made an application to strike out a libel action by Mark Lewis, a solicitor representing victims of phone hacking by the News of the World.

Scotland Yard is to contest a lawsuit that could establish the true number of victims in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Mark Lewis, a solicitor who has acted for people suing the newspaper, contends that a senior figure in the Metropolitan police, Detective Sergeant Mark Maberly, told him in 2008 that as many as 6,000 phones may have been hacked.

Lewis repeated this conversation when giving evidence to the culture, media and sport select committee inquiry into allegations of phone hacking by the newspaper and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.

The Met insists that Maberly, now a detective inspector, did not give Lewis the 6,000 figure, or tell the solicitor he would give him "enough rope to hang them" as Lewis maintains.

The Met's denial prompted Lewis to launch a libel claim that the force will seek to strike out in court on Thursday and thus close down a line of inquiry that could reveal the extent of the evidence it holds relating to the scandal.

"This is about my reputation," Lewis said. "The police accused me of lying about my conversation."

To support his libel action, Lewis is demanding that the Met hand over documents taken from Mulcaire's office that could establish the number of phone-hacking victims. So far, only documents relating to the growing number of celebrities who have launched civil actions against the News of the World have been released.

Lewis told the parliamentary select committee that, based on his conversation with Maberly, he had been led to believe "they had found there were something like 6,000 people who were involved. It was not clear to me whether that was 6,000 phones that had been hacked or 6,000 people including the people who had left messages."

Maberly's alleged comments to Lewis contrast starkly with statements made by other senior officers in the Metropolitan police.

Andy Hayman, a former assistant commissioner at the Met, who led the original investigation, has said there were only a "handful" of victims.

John Yates, the acting commissioner who led a follow-up investigation, told the home affairs select committee that "the voicemail pin codes of up to 120 people were discovered".

In response to concerns that it failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough investigation into the News of the World's phone-hacking activities, the Met has launched a new inquiry conducted by deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers and involving 45 detectives.

But MPs have called for an outside force to launch its own investigation.

Earlier this month Paul Farrelly, a member of the culture and media committee, wrote to the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, to express his concerns about the Crown Prosecution Service's role in the affair.

"At every twist and turn, the CPS simply 'rubber-stamped' the Metropolitan police's approach. The CPS' public statements, indeed, appeared to be a 'cut and paste' of the police's stance," Farrelly wrote. "It is time not only for the Metropolitan police's conduct and approach to be independently reviewed, but the CPS's as well."

In his response, Starmer said a new review of the evidence collected by Scotland Yard, to be conducted by a senior CPS prosecutor, would be "rigorous and robust".

In response to Lewis's libel action, a spokeswoman for the Met said: "We can confirm that the Metropolitan Police Service is making an application to strike out the claim. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage

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No action against police who 'bungled' hacking case

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

The Independent

Thursday, 3 March 2011

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Scotland Yard has not taken any disciplinary action against officers on the original inquiry into phone hacking despite mounting evidence that they failed to follow leads and misled potential victims about the amount of information on them held by a jailed private investigator.

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that no officer has been disciplined as a result of failings in the heavily criticised investigation into Glenn Mulcaire, who illegally accessed voicemails for the News of the World.

Since the launch of the new inquiry in January, detectives have made connections between cases and identified new victims who were previously told by officers that there was "little or no" information about them in files seized from Mr Mulcaire's home. Investigators have also been working with new email evidence that had apparently been undetected in the archives of the NOTW's owner, News International.

Operation Weeting appears to be evidence of the Met's determination to crack a case which has damaged its reputation. But questions remain about the original inquiry, led by Assistant Commissioners Andy Hayman and John Yates. They have defended the inquiry, pointing out that it led to the jailing of Mr Mulcaire and the NOTW's royal editor Clive Goodman and had sent out an important warning to reporters.

A Commons committee criticised the Met for not interviewing any journalists beyond Goodman, inquiring into the contract with Mulcaire or forcing the paper to disclose further information.

Referring to an emailed transcript marked "for Neville" – an apparent reference to the NOTW's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck – the Media Select Committee said: "The email was a strong indication both of additional lawbreaking and of the possible involvement of others. These matters merited thorough police investigation

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Phone-hacking inquiry spreads to Sunday Times, Prescott tells Lords

John Prescott uses parliamentary privilege in the House of Lords to allege that other Rupert Murdoch titles are being investigated

by James Robinson guardian.co.uk,

Thursday 3 March 2011 19.37 GMT

Other titles in Rupert Murdoch's media empire, including the Sunday Times, are being investigated for allegedly hacking into mobile phones belonging to well-known people, according to Lord Prescott.

The former deputy prime minister used parliamentary privilege to claim in the House of Lords: "The investigation into phone hacking has been extended now to the Sunday Times."

Scotland Yard announced a fresh inquiry into allegations of widespread phone hacking at the Murdoch-owned News of the World in January. The Met also told Prescott there was evidence his phone may have been targeted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who was employed by the paper.

Prescott used a Lords debate on the government's decision to approve News Corp's purchase of BSkyB to claim the practice of phone hacking was not restricted to the NoW. "It is a number of papers owned by the Murdoch press and a number of employees who have been involved in withholding evidence and [hacking into phones]," he said.

The claims were echoed in the Commons by Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, who said: "I now believe that evidence exists showing that journalists currently employed on the Times and the Sunday Times were involved in the phone hacking and that damaging revelations were printed in the Sun from information possibly collected by illegal hacking."

The claims prompted an immediate response from News International, which vigorously denied that any of its titles apart from the NoW were under investigation. "We do not believe Tom Watson has any evidence to support his allegation," a spokesman for the company said. "It is not a coincidence that he has made such cowardly and unsubstantiated claims under the cloak of parliamentary privilege. If he has any evidence we urge him to send it to us and we will take immediate action."

Watson said he had passed all information in his possession to the Metropolitan police. He launched a scathing attack on Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun and News of the World editor who is now chief executive of News International. "She may accuse me of being cowardly but she has resisted three attempts by a parliamentary committee to interview her over ... matters to do with phone hacking."

Brooks repeatedly refused to appear before the Commons culture, media and sport committee to answer questions about phone hacking on the grounds that she was not running the company when it took place.

Prescott called on the government to extend the three-week consultation period on the proposed BSkyBdeal until the Met's phone-hacking inquiry is completed.

Mulcaire was jailed for illegally intercepting messages left on mobile phones in January 2007 along with Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal

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Leading article: Rupert Murdoch gets his political payback

The Independent

Friday, March 4, 2011

There is something fishy about this meeting of minds between News Corp and the Government

What a difference two months make. In January, Jeremy Hunt said he was "minded" to follow Ofcom's recommendation that the bid of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to take full control of BSkyB should be referred to the Competition Commission. But yesterday he gave the green light for the bid to proceed without further interference from the regulators.

What changed Mr Hunt's mind? According to him, the answer is a special undertaking made by News Corp – in response to Ofcom's concerns about the impact of the acquisition on the

Mr Hunt said yesterday that the move will give Sky News "more independence" from News Corp. But this is doubtful. News Corp would retain a 39 per cent share in the new company and continue to cover the channel's losses. It might be a diluted form of ownership, but it is still ownership. Sky News will also, we are told, have an independent board of directors to guarantee integrity in its reporting.

But similar promises of editorial independence were made after Rupert Murdoch was permitted to buy The Times newspaper group in 1981. They were soon ignored. This proposal is a fig leaf; its purpose is to give the impression of a serious response to concerns about plurality, while avoiding any substantive action.

Promises of good behaviour from some media organisations might be credible. But we should remember the nature of Mr Murdoch's empire. The News of the World appears to have been at the centre of a massive and illegal phone-hacking operation. According to the Labour MP Tom Watson, speaking in the Commons yesterday, journalists employed at other Murdoch titles might have been involved in this, too. Fox News, the Murdoch-owned US channel, is a virulently right-wing broadcaster that has contributed to the disastrous polarisation of the political discourse across the Atlantic. News Corp simply does not merit the benefit of the doubt.

The proposed arrangement also ignores the primary objection to the bid: the power in respect of advertising sales that it will afford News Corp across its range of different media platforms, giving the company a market position that can only be regarded as anti-competitive. At a time when the newspaper industry in particular is experiencing unprecedented pressure on revenues, it could have a catastrophic impact on other publications. Furthermore, News Corp will be able to "bundle" online subscriptions to its newspapers in special offers when BSkyB customers renew their satellite packages – and there would also be scope for intensive cross-promotion of News Corp titles. It all adds up to an advantage for Mr Murdoch's media empire that verges on the monopolistic.

It does not require a conspiracy theorist to detect something fishy about this meeting of minds between News Corp and the Government. In opposition, Mr Hunt enthusiastically praised Mr Murdoch's entrepreneurial skills. David Cameron hired a disgraced former News Corp editor, Andy Coulson, to be his director of communications. And Mr Murdoch's newspapers all threw their weight behind the Conservatives in last year's election. Mr Hunt's agreement to allow News Corp to skip past regulatory hurdles as it accrues still greater market power looks uncomfortably like political payback.

This deal is not yet sealed. The proposals will go out to public consultation until 21 March. This is a time for all those who want to see a diverse, competitive and free-thinking media environment in Britain to make their objections heard. If the Coalition Government is sincere in its commitment to democracy, it ought to take full accountof the public reaction to yesterday's announcement

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MP threatens to lift lid on 'enormous issues' in phone-hacking case

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Monday, 7 March 2011

A Labour MP will make new claims this week about the extent of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal during a House of Commons debate which threatens to deepen the controversy engulfing Rupert Murdoch's News International.

Chris Bryant, a shadow minister who is taking legal action over an alleged failure by Scotland Yard properly to investigate the illegal eavesdropping of voicemails, said the true nature of the scandal remained unclear and raised important questions about democracy in Britain.

Mr Bryant has secured a 30-minute Commons debate on Thursday which will include a formal government response. He said: "It has become apparent that the extent of phone hacking is greater than either News Corporation or the News of the World have admitted to. Indeed, it would seem it was far more substantial than that found by the original investigation that the Metropolitan Police could be bothered to mount." The Rhondda MP said "enormous issues" had been raised by the scandal, which led to the jailing in 2007 of the private detective Glenn Mulcaire and NOTW's royal editor Clive Goodman.

A team of 45 Metropolitan Police detectives is leading a fresh investigation to determine whether Mulcaire was eavesdropping on individuals beyond the eight people he has already admitted to targeting. Mr Bryant is one of four people, along with the former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott, seeking a judicial review of the failure of the Yard to inform them that they were likely victims of Mulcaire.

"There is also the political aspect of all this," Mr Bryant added. "What was the purpose behind all this phone hacking? Ultimately, I think its purpose was murky and nefarious. It raises questions of just who runs Britain."

Last week Tom Watson, a defence minister in the last government, told the Commons he believed evidence existed implicating journalists working for The Times and The Sunday Times and said he believed The Sun printed a story that may have been based on hacked conversations. News International said it did not believe Mr Watson had evidence to support the claims

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Murdoch ally 'warned MPs not to pursue hacking scandal'

Chris Bryant says members were told that raising key issue 'would not be forgotten'

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Friday, 11 March 2011

MPs were "warned off" pursuing the phone-hacking scandal in Parliament as part of a cover-up, a Labour frontbencher claimed last night during an incendiary speech in which he accused the country's biggest police force of misleading a Commons committee, and its biggest newspaper group of engaging in the "dark arts" of tapping, hacking and blagging.

Damning the behaviour of the Metropolitan Police and Rupert Murdoch's News International, Chris Bryant claimed his friends had been told by an ally of Mr Murdoch that their raising the issue "would not be forgotten". Suggesting there was a "full-blown, copper-bottomed scandal", he said neither the police nor the newspapers had properly investigated the criminality and that attempts had been made to suppress the full scale of the wrongdoing. To a near-empty Commons chamber, Mr Bryant:

* Accused News International of carrying out illegal activities ranging from tapping phones to blagging phone records to conning health records out of doctors' surgeries;

* Stated he believed phone hacking had taken place at the News of the World from 2002, three years before it was formally acknowledged by police to have begun;

* Added that the alleged hacking had taken place under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks, the current head of News International and Mr Murdoch's most senior UK newspaper executive;

* Claimed one of Britain's most senior police officers misled a parliamentary inquiry by saying there had been only "eight to 12 victims";

* Questioned the Met's "narrow, false" interpretation of the law on intercepting messages;

* Disclosed eight MPs had been told they may have been victims.

Mr Bryant, a former Europe minister, said it had been communicated to MPs that they should not pursue the scandal – which allegedly involved the hacking of the former prime minister Gordon Brown, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott and dozens of other public figures.

Scotland Yard launched a new inquiry into the hacking carried out for the NOTW in January, after civil litigants found the scandal had spread far beyond the paper's jailed royal editor, Clive Goodman.

"Almost as bad as the original illegal activity... has been the cover-up," Mr Bryant complained. "Other members and former members of this House have said they were warned off pushing this issue in the House and in select committees. When I raised the question of parliamentary privilege last September, my friends were told by a senior figure allied to Rupert Murdoch and a former executive of News International to warn me that this would not be forgotten." He listed all the covert tactics used to obtain or wheedle out information about private lives: all were part of the "dark arts" practised by News International.

The Met's acting deputy commissioner, John Yates, had either inadvertently or deliberately given wrong information to the Commons Media, Culture and Sport Select Committee when he claimed that only eight to 12 people had their phones illegally tapped by journalists. "He used an argument that had never been relied upon by the Crown Prosecution Service or his own officers to suggest that the number of victims was minuscule. In fact he knew, and we know, that the number of potential victims is and was substantial. What was lacking was not possible avenues of investigation but, in my view, the will to pursue them."

The "narrow" interpretation of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, that it was not a crime to eavesdrop messages already listened to by their intended recipient, "was misleading not on a minor point, but on the most substantial point of all".

But what astounded and infuriated him the most, he said, was that the scale of the scandal had only been wrung out of the Met by the civil litigants suing the NOTW once the Met had "failed to or refused to join up the dots of evidence" it already had.

Mr Bryant, a former Europe minister, spoke in the Commons hours after seeing evidence about him in material seized from Mulcaire's home in 2006. He is seeking a judicial review of the Met's handling of the phone hacking case, along with Lord Prescott, Brian Paddick, the former Scotland Yard Commander, and Brendan Montague, a freelance journalist.

News International last night declined to comment on Mr Bryant's claims. A company source said that no evidence had been presented that phone hacking was carried out on its titles beyond the NOTW or that the activity took place as early as 2002. Scotland Yard said Mr Yates believed the claims against him were wrong. A spokesman said: "It is disappointing that Chris Bryant has chosen to repeat these allegations."

His Commons speech: What Chris Bryant said on...

The 'dark arts' "This debate is about phone hacking – a term that covers a multitude of sins: tapping a phone call or line; hacking into a phone's operating systems so as to be able to access emails, texts, messages... There are, of course, other dark arts: ringing an office and pretending to deliver a parcel to someone's home address and thereby fraudulently getting the home address; ringing a phone call centre and pretending to be a client so as to be able to get a personal identification number... blagging a doctor's receptionist into giving out highly personal information about an appointment, or medication or other treatment... All of these dark arts were part of the systematic modus operandi of the News of the World for a sustained period."

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks (née Wade) "I believe the practice started earlier than 2003 – in 2002, under the editorship of Rebekah Wade. I believe that evidence will very soon prove that to be the case."

The original Scotland Yard hacking investigation: "One day, there will have to be a full investigation as to why the Met's original investigation was so cursory. Was it laziness that meant people simply couldn't be bothered to wade through the material gathered from Glenn Mulcaire in 2006? Was it because of the closeness of senior officers to the newspaper? Was it just too ready an acceptance of News International's word? Or did the News of the World actually have something on some of the people involved in the investigation?"

The mass of missed evidence "What still astounds and frankly infuriates me is that in many cases, the Met already had all the information they needed: reams and reams of notes taken by Mr Mulcaire, with 91 personal identification numbers; copious invoices; pages devoted to individual targets with thousands of linked phone numbers, many of them garnered illicitly; and quite often the name of a commissioning journalist or executive... In other words, the Met had many of the dots. They just failed to or refused to join them up."

The targeting of MPs "The allegation that there were only a 'handful' of hacking victims is countered by the fact that I could name... at least eight members of the House of Commons who have been informed directly by the Metropolitan Police that they were not only a person of interest to Mr Mulcaire, but there may have been interception of their messages."

The relationship between the 'NOTW' and the Metropolitan Police "There are very serious issues here. On the face of it at least the relationship between the Metropolitan Police and the News of the World is remarkably, and I would argue dangerously, close."

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Murder trial collapse exposes News of the World links to police corruption

David Cameron hired Andy Coulson despite knowing that as editor he employed Jonathan Rees, who paid police for stories

By Nick Davies and Vikram Dodd

guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 March 2011 18.17 GMT

A man cleared of murder can be named as a private investigator with links to corrupt police officers who earned £150,000 a year from the News of the World for supplying illegally obtained information on people in the public eye.

Jonathan Rees was acquitted of the murder of his former business partner, Daniel Morgan, who was found in a south London car park in 1987 with an axe in the back of his head. The case collapsed after 18 months of legal argument, during which it has been impossible for media to write about Rees's Fleet Street connections.

The ending of the trial means it is now possible for the first time to tell how Rees went to prison in December 2000 after a period of earning six-figure sums from the News of the World.

Rees, who had worked for the paper for seven years, was jailed for planting cocaine on a woman in order to discredit her during divorce proceedings. After his release from prison Rees, who had been bugged for six months by Scotland Yard because of his links with corrupt police officers, was rehired by the News of the World, which was being edited by Andy Coulson.

The revelations call into question David Cameron's judgment in choosing Coulson as director of communications at 10 Downing Street in May 2010. Both he and the deputy prime minister had been warned in March 2010 about Coulson's responsibility for rehiring Rees after his prison sentence.

Nick Clegg had been informed in detail about Jonathan Rees's murder charge, his prison sentence and his involvement with police corruption – and that he and three other private investigators had committed crimes for the News of the World while Coulson was deputy editor or editor.

In September 2002 the Guardian published a lengthy exposé of Rees's involvement with police corruption and illegal newsgathering. But since April 2008 the press have been prevented from revealing Rees's connections with the News of the World, or placing it in the context of News International's denials about any knowledge of illegal activity on behalf of the company.

News International had until recently claimed there was just one "rotten apple" at the company and that the paper had no knowledge of the illegal activities of another private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was paid £100,000 before being sent to jail in 2007.

Rebekah Wade, now chief executive of News International, was deputy editor of the News of the World from 1998-2000 and editor from 2000 to 2003. Coulson was deputy editor of the News of the World from 2000 and editor from 2003 to 2007. Rees worked for the paper until 2000, when he was jailed for seven years, and then again after his release from prison in 2005.

Rees, now aged 56, worked regularly for the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror as well as for the News of the World. His numerous targets included members of the royal family whose bank accounts he penetrated; political figures including Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell; rock stars such as Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and George Michael; the Olympic athlete Linford Christie and former England footballer Gary Lineker; TV presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan; and people associated with tabloid story topics, including the daughter of the former miners leader Arthur Scargill and the family of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

Jonathan Rees paid a network of corrupt police officers who sold him confidential records. He boasted of other corrupt contacts in banks and government organisations; hired specialists to "blag" confidential data from targets' current accounts, phone records and car registration; allegedly used "Trojan horse" emails to extract information from computers; and – according to two sources – commissioned burglaries to obtain material for journalists.

On Friday the crown said it could offer no evidence against Rees and two other men accused of Morgan's murder. An Old Bailey judge ordered the acquittal of Rees and his co-defendants.

The prosecutor, Nicholas Hilliard QC, said the weight of paperwork – about 750,000 pages going back over 24 years – made it impossible to guarantee that defence lawyers would be able to see everything they may need for the trial to be fair.

Morgan's family has called for an inquiry into the case. Scotland Yard admitted that corruption in the first murder investigation had shielded the killers of Rees's one-time business partner.

The Rees case raises new questions about the failure of Scotland Yard's 2006 inquiry into phone hacking at the News of the World. For more than a decade Scotland Yard has been holding detailed evidence of Rees's corrupt activities for the News of the World and other titles, including many hours of taped conversations from a listening device that was planted in Rees's office for six months from April 1999. Despite this the Met in 2006 accepted the News of the World's claim that its royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, who had been caught hacking voicemail, was a "rogue reporter". Detectives decided not to interview any other journalist or executive from the paper. They also decided not to seek a court order to force the paper to disclose internal paperwork.

In February 2010 the Guardian wrote to Coulson asking him to comment on his responsibility for hiring Rees. The Guardian's letter also asked about three other private investigators who were convicted of crimes committed on behalf of the News of the World. Steve Whittamore and John Boyall admitted buying confidential data from the police national computer, and Glenn Mulcaire was convicted of hacking voicemail messages. Coulson has always maintained he knew nothing of any of this activity.

He was also asked to comment on the fact that Scotland Yard was believed to have arrested and questioned Coulson's former assistant editor, Greg Miskiw, in 2005 and questioned him about the alleged payment of bribes to serving police officers and the employees of mobile phone companies. Miskiw declined to respond to Guardian questions about this.

Along with Rees, Glenn and Garry Vian were also acquitted yesterday in the Daniel Morgan murder case.

The police case involved a series of supergrasses and the crown dropped some of them during some of the longest legal argument ever seen in an English criminal court.

After his acquittal Rees said: "I want a judicial inquiry, ideally a public inquiry."

In a statement read on his behalf, Rees's solicitor said: "When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business.

Whatever anyone may say on 10th March 1987 I lost a friend and business partner."

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Private investigator cleared of murder was on Coulson pay-roll

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A private investigator acquitted of one of Britain's longest unsolved murders had extensive links with corrupt police officers and was being paid thousands of pounds to supply information to the News of the World under the editorship of former Downing Street spin doctor Andy Coulson.

Jonathan Rees, who walked free from the Old Bailey after his trial for the murder of his business partner collapsed due to Scotland Yard failures, was rehired by Rupert Murdoch's Sunday tabloid despite being sentenced to six years' imprisonment for plotting to plant cocaine in a former model's car.

The decision to pay Mr Rees for his services after his release from jail in 2005 was made under the editorship of Mr Coulson. The Guardian reported last night that it had written to prime minister David Cameron prior to his decision to hire the former NOTW editor informing him of the fact that Mr Rees had been employed under Mr Coulson.

The private detective, who worked for the NOTW for two periods between 1993 and 2000 and then after 2005, enjoyed a lucrative relationship with several Fleet Street titles, using his contacts with corrupt Metropolitan Police officers, other law enforcement officials, bank workers and phone company employees to obtain personal and illegal information.

Mr Rees, 56 who reportedly earned up to £150,000 a year from the NotW, had numerous targets including former Labour Cabinet minister Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair's press chief Alastair Campbell, rock star Mick Jagger, television presenters Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, and the singer George Michael, according to The Guardian.

The private detective allegedly inhabited a shadowy world where corrupt officers and former detectives would approach him with information relating to celebrities and high-profile criminals, including M25 murderer Kenneth Noye.

Yesterday, Mr Rees was formally acquitted at the Old Bailey along with two other men of the murder fellow private investigator Daniel Morgan, who was found with an axe in his skull outside a south London pub 24 years ago.

The marathon trial, which had yet to reach a jury despite three months of legal argument, collapsed after the Metropolitan Police told the court last week that it had found four boxes of previously undisclosed documentation. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided that the admission rendered the proceedings unsustainable.

The family of Mr Morgan, who saw what is the fifth investigation into his murder collapse the day after the 24th anniversary of his death, called for a judicial inquiry into the handling of the case. In a statement, the family, who believe Mr Morgan had been about to reveal the involvement of corrupt police officers in a drugs ring, said: "The criminal justice system is not fit for purpose."

In a crime which became a byword for the corruption that dogged Britain's largest police force in the late 1980s, Mr Morgan's killing has proved a continuous embarrassment to the Yard. Its most senior murder detective offered an apology to the Morgan family and admitted that corruption had hampered the initial police inquiry.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell said: "It is with considerable regret that a trial cannot proceed. This current investigation has identified, ever more clearly, how the initial inquiry failed the family and wider public. It is quite apparent that police corruption was a debilitating factor."

Mr Rees, 56, who along with his co-defendants had denied murdering Mr Morgan, said outside court that he should not have been prosecuted. He said up to 40 suspects for the 1987 killing outside the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham had not been investigated. Mr Rees, who ran Southern Investigations with Mr Morgan, said: "When Daniel Morgan was killed it was an awful shock to me and to our business. I lost a friend and a business partner."

During a covert operation in 1999 by the Yard's anti-corruption branch CIB3, Mr Rees was recorded talking to reporters about information obtained from his police contacts.

An internal police report stated: "Rees and [others] have for a number of years been involved in the long-term penetration of police intelligence sources ... Their thirst for knowledge is driven by profit to be accrued from the media."

Police examined whether or not criminal charges could be laid against journalists. But none were brought because, it is believed, it could not be established that Mr Rees' clients would have known the source of his information.

Mr Coulson has consistently denied knowing about any illegal practices at the NotW, including the phone hacking activities of another private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.

A NotW spokesman said last night: ""Like other newspapers and broadcasters we pay tipsters and sources for information and stories. To date, no evidence has been brought to our attention of any wrong doing by us in relation to Jonathan Rees.

As shown by recent events, if we are presented with evidence we will act on it. The News of the World operates within the law and the PCC code."

Alistair Morgan, Daniel Morgan's brother, said: "For almost a quarter of a century, my family has done everything democratically and legally possible to secure justice for Daniel. We have been failed utterly by all of the institutions designed to protect us

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Phone hacking: The dark arts of Jonathan Rees

Editorial

guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 March 2011 19.11 GMT

The collapse of a high-profile murder trial over evidential questions poses uncomfortable questions for the police. But the case is of much wider significance, since it poses equally difficult questions for the prime minister, for his former press secretary, Andy Coulson, and for all those at News International who have stuck to their claim that no one in the company – bar one rotten apple – had any knowledge of illegal behaviour by, or on behalf of, its journalists.

Jonathan Rees, who was yesterday cleared of murdering his former business partner, Daniel Morgan, is a private investigator of a particularly unpleasant and vindicative kind. In the late 1990s he was working for the News of the World, paid as much as £150,000 a year to use his dark arts to illegally trawl for personal information on the paper's targets. The work, which included bribing police officers, came to the attention of Scotland Yard's anti-corruption team, who bugged his office for six months. In December 2000 his newspaper work – which included work for the Mirror Group – came to a sudden and enforced halt when he was jailed for seven years after being caught planting cocaine on a woman. The aim was to discredit her prior to divorce hearings

Rees was one of four private detectives – all of them now convicted criminals – who are known to have been retained by the News of the World, apparently without the knowledge of a single executive. Rees's exploits were certainly no secret. They were written about in two articles published by the Guardian in 2002, while Rees was in prison. One of them named a News of the World executive, Alex Marunchak, who had been caught on tape discussing payments of thousands of pounds. Despite all this – Rees's links to corrupt police, his prison sentence, the publication of his links to, and payment by, the newspaper – he returned to work for the News of the World, now edited by Andy Coulson, in 2005 after he had left prison .

Rees was charged with murder in 2008, which meant that no newspaper could, until today, name him. But both David Cameron and Nick Clegg knew of the background to the story in early 2010, well before they entered Downing Street. The new prime minister chose to ignore it, appointing Coulson head of communications at Downing Street in May 2010. It was an extraordinary piece of bad judgment, and surprising that Clegg apparently did not demur or distance himself in any way. Did no one carry out any official vetting before Coulson was allowed across the doorstep of No 10? Or did Cameron and Clegg want the former Murdoch editor so badly that they pretended not to know, and ignored the ticking time bomb which exploded yesterday?

Meanwhile, what of Acting Deputy Commissioner John Yates, who was so quick to assure the world that there wasn't much to the phone-hacking stories uncovered by journalists on this and other newspapers? He has hired one of the UK's most notorious libel firms to warn off this newspaper for reporting the claim that he misled parliament. In a Commons debate this week, Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, made the direct accusation that Yates did, indeed, mislead two parliamentary select committees. Moreover, it was alleged that Scotland Yard has known for five months that its evidence was incorrect. The two committees involved should, as a matter of some urgency, invite the police to explain its position.

Until now most of the attention around phone hacking has centred on the activities of Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed in 2006 for his work on behalf of the News of the World. Rees was actually paid more than Mulcaire and is alleged to have deployed a wider armoury of illegal methods to acquire information for his Fleet Street clients. Now that his name is no longer protected by court restrictions, another chapter in this disturbing saga of intrusion, power and criminality can be written.

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Phone hacking: The dark arts of Jonathan Rees

Editorial

guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 March 2011 19.11 GMT

The collapse of a high-profile murder trial over evidential questions poses uncomfortable questions for the police. But the case is of much wider significance, since it poses equally difficult questions for the prime minister, for his former press secretary, Andy Coulson, and for all those at News International who have stuck to their claim that no one in the company – bar one rotten apple – had any knowledge of illegal behaviour by, or on behalf of, its journalists.

Here are two articles that tell the amaxing story of Jonanthan Rees:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/11/scotland-yard-daniel-morgan-killers?INTCMP=SRCH

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/11/daniel-morgan-axe-murder-defendants?INTCMP=SRCH

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Phone hacking: Panorama to name sixth journalist in News of the World scandal

Hacker hired by senior News of the World executive to intercept emails, BBC documentary says

By Nick Davies

guardian.co.uk,

Sunday 13 March 2011 18.07 GMT

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal is set to reach a new peak of embarrassment for the paper and for Scotland Yard with the naming of the sixth and most senior journalist yet to be implicated in illegal news-gathering.

A BBC Panorama programme claims that Alex Marunchak, formerly the paper's senior executive editor, commissioned a specialist snooper who illegally intercepted email messages from a target's computer and faxed copies of them to Marunchak's News of the World office.

The embarrassment is heightened by the fact that the target was a former British army intelligence officer who had served in Northern Ireland and was in possession of secrets which were deemed so sensitive that they had been suppressed by a court order.

Rupert Murdoch's News International, which owns the News of the World, has claimed repeatedly that only one of its journalists – the former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman – was involved in illegal news-gathering. When Goodman was jailed in January 2007, Scotland Yard chose not to interview any other journalist or executive on the paper.

And Panorama reports that the illegal interception of emails happened in July 2006, when the prime minister's former media adviser Andy Coulson was editing the paper.

Coulson has given evidence to a parliamentary select committee and on oath at a criminal trial, denying that he knew anything of any illegal activity during his seven years at the News of the World.

Panorama obtained details of a fax sent to the office of Marunchak on 5 July 2006, apparently containing copies of emails which had been written by Ian Hurst, a former army intelligence officer. Marunchak was then based in the News of the World's Dublin office, editing the Irish edition. Hurst was believed to be involved in writing a book titled Stakeknife, eventually published under the pseudonym Martin Ingram, which details the alleged involvement of British intelligence in assassinations in Northern Ireland. Hurst had been the subject of court orders obtained by the Ministry of Defence.

Panorama traced Hurst and showed him the fax. He confirmed on camera that the emails had come from his computer. "The hairs on the back of my head are up," he told them. Hurst then contacted a specialist hacker who he suspected was responsible, met him in a local hotel and confronted him, while the BBC secretly filmed the exchange.

The hacker – whose name cannot be revealed for separate legal reasons – confessed his role and added: "It weren't that hard. I sent you an email that you opened, and that's it ... I sent it from a bogus address ... Now it's gone. It shouldn't even remain on the hard drive ... I think I programmed it to stay on for three months."

Hurst then asked the hacker who had commissioned him to do this. The hacker replied: "The faxes would go to Dublin ... He was the editor of the News of the World for Ireland. A Slovak-type name. I can't remember his xxxxing name. Alex, his name is. Marunchak." Marunchak declined to answer questions when the BBC confronted him.

The BBC claim that Marunchak was introduced to the specialist hacker by Jonathan Rees, the private investigator whose involvement with corrupt police officers was detailed by the Guardian on Saturday. Internal News International records show that Marunchak regularly employed Rees from the late 1990s, and that during 2006, the News of the World paid Rees more than £4,000 for research relating to Stakeknife, the codename for the British intelligence mole inside the IRA whose activities were known to Ian Hurst.

Marunchak is the sixth News of the World journalist to be implicated in the affair. Documents published by the Guardian in 2009 include an email containing the transcripts of 35 illegally intercepted voicemail messages, sent by a junior reporter, Ross Hindley, for the chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck. Paperwork disclosed in court cases suggests that Clive Goodman, Ian Edmondson and Greg Miskiw commissioned phone-hacking. Goodman was jailed; Edmondson has been sacked but not charged with any offence; Miskiw is believed to have been interviewed by police in 2005 but never charged with any offence.

Monday's edition of Panorama includes an interview with Sean Hoare, the News of the World's former showbusiness writer, who last year told the New York Times that Andy Coulson had actively encouraged him to hack voicemail. Hoare tells the programme that the news desk commissioned private investigators to access targets' bank accounts, phone records, mortgage accounts and health records.

The former deputy assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, Brian Paddick, who believes his own voicemail may have been intercepted on behalf of the News of the World, told the programme "I think that the new investigation should be carried out by an external force and it should be independently supervised. Otherwise, certainly some of the victims of phone-hacking will not be satisfied that the thing has been investigated thoroughly."

In a separate development, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, has taken the unusual step of publicly challenging a senior serving police officer, who has been closely involved in the hacking affair. In a letter published in the Guardian, Starmer accuses the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police John Yates of quoting him out of context in attempting to justify evidence which he has given to two parliamentary select committees.

In the House of Commons last week, Chris Bryant MP said that Yates had misled the committees by claiming that it is illegal to hack voicemail messages only if they have not already been heard by the intended recipient. This was a key factor in justifying the Yard's claim that there was only a small number of victims of the News of the World's activities. Yates wrote to the Guardian defending his position and quoting a sentence from evidence submitted by the DPP's office to one of the select committees.

However, in his letter to the Guardian, Keir Starmer says it was "regrettable" that Yates used this sentence out of context; that the original prosecution did not use this interpretation of the law; and that this interpretation had no bearing on the charges brought or the legal proceedings generally. "The issue simply did not arise," he writes

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Phone hacking: Panorama to name sixth journalist in News of the World scandal

Hacker hired by senior News of the World executive to intercept emails, BBC documentary says

By Nick Davies

guardian.co.uk,

Sunday 13 March 2011 18.07 GMT

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal is set to reach a new peak of embarrassment for the paper and for Scotland Yard with the naming of the sixth and most senior journalist yet to be implicated in illegal news-gathering.

A BBC Panorama programme claims that Alex Marunchak, formerly the paper's senior executive editor, commissioned a specialist snooper who illegally intercepted email messages from a target's computer and faxed copies of them to Marunchak's News of the World office.

I will be watching it tonight.

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Met fears release of 'evidence' would hurt phone-hacking case

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Scotland Yard is seeking to withhold evidence from alleged victims of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal over fears that doing so could endanger its criminal investigation.

The Metropolitan Police applied in private to the High Court last week for permission to keep back information which had been ordered disclosed in the damages claims of football agent Sky Andrew, comedian Steve Coogan and sports pundit Andy Gray.

The Yard argued that disclosing the documents – understood to be notes written by the private detective Glenn Mulcaire – risked "prejudicing" its new hacking investigation, Operation Weeting, whose tasks will include establishing whether there are grounds for bringing new prosecutions.

Scotland Yard announced the investigation in January, shortly after Rupert Murdoch's News International passed detectives "significant new evidence" about hacking at the NOTW. The Met's behind-closed-doors application for permission to withhold "some material" for up to 14 weeks in the cases of the three public figures emerged during a pre-trial hearing for Mr Andrew's privacy claim against the newspaper and Mr Mulcaire.

Mr Justice Geoffrey Vos told the the High Court in London: "The [Met] Commissioner applied for an order to withhold disclosure of some material which had previously been redacted on the grounds disclosure would be harmful to the public interest [because] it would hamper investigations currently being undertaken." The order has not yet been granted.

The hearing was told that Mr Mulcaire had named the NOTW's ex-head of news, Ian Edmondson, as the journalist who had commissioned him to eavesdrop on Mr Andrew's messages. Mr Edmondson denies any wrongdoing. Mr Mulcaire, from Sutton, Surrey, was jailed in 2007 along with the NOTW's royal editor, Clive Goodman, after the private detective admitted hacking into the phone messages of royal aides and five other people.

The court heard the Yard was concerned that legal moves by alleged victims of hacking to force the disclosure of the notebooks could imperil its investigation by putting potential evidence into the public domain and "tipping off" possible suspects. Jeremy Reed, Mr Andrew's barrister, said such concerns were "ludicrous" because of the amount of publicity about the scandal and the time which had lapsed since any offences. "It is laughable to suggest that civil disclosure in these proceedings will prejudice the police investigation," he said.

In a separate development, lawyers for Sienna Miller and Mr Andrew will launch proceedings later this week, asking News International to disclose electronic material, including emails, that could be relevant to their claims.

The key plaintiffs...

Sienna Miller

The actress will apply through her lawyers to the High Court on Friday for News International emails relevant to her phone-hacking claim and details on how the company stores its vast bank of electronic information.

Andy Gray

The football pundit's demand for evidence from notes seized by Scotland Yard from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire could disclose which 'News of the World' journalists allegedly asked for his phone messages to be hacked

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Yates offers to testify again in Parliament

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

One of Britain's top police officers says he will appear before MPs to answer allegations that he misled Parliament over the phone hacking scandal, The Independent has learnt.

Scotland Yard's acting deputy commissioner John Yates has told the Home Affairs and Media select committees he is willing to testify to "rebut" claims he gave misleading evidence on the law on hacking and the number of victims involved.

The Metropolitan police said Mr Yates had written to the committees "offering to appear before them, if they so wish or think it appropriate, to provide the evidence necessary to rebut the allegations that [Chris Bryant MP] has made."

On Saturday, Mr Yates quoted legal advice on hacking from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer, who said his comments had been used "out of context". A spokesman said she could not say whether Mr Starmer would also be willing to appear before the committees, but pointed out that a DPP had never refused to do so in the past.

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