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Sienna Miller settles hacking case

The Independent

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sienna Miller was granted an injunction preventing any further unlawful accessing of her voicemail and publication of her private information

Sienna Miller's privacy and harassment claim in the News of the World phone-hacking action settled for £100,000 damages today.

The 29-year-old actress, who is appearing in Terence Rattigan's Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, was not at London's High Court for the brief hearing.

Her counsel, David Sherborne, told Mr Justice Vos that, in 2005 and 2006, she was the subject of numerous articles which contained "intrusive and private information".

As well as the damages and her legal costs, Ms Miller was granted an injunction preventing any further unlawful accessing of her voicemail and publication of her private information.

The order also provided for disclosure of information about the extent of the activities and expressly allows her to come back to court in the light of any new material.

Mr Sherborne said that Ms Miller did not know the source of the information and could not understand how it was possible for the News of the World to obtain it.

She had considerable concerns about the security of her mobile phone, having experienced periods of hang up calls and missing voicemail messages, and changed her number three times in a bid to protect herself.

"The information which was being published was only known to trusted friends and family.

"The claimant did not know whether someone close to her was leaking information or whether her mobile telephone was somehow being hacked into.

"Both possibilities were extremely distressing for the claimant," said counsel.

Mr Sherborne said that in October 2010, after disclosure of documents by the Metropolitan Police Service, Ms Miller issued proceedings for misuse of private information, breach of confidence and harassment.

In April this year, News Group Newspapers made an unconditional admission of liability.

He added: "This meant that News Group accepted that confidential and private information had been obtained by the unlawful access of the claimant's voicemail messages, that confidential and private information had been published as a result, and that there had been an invasion of her privacy, breaches of confidence and a campaign of harassment for over 12 months."

News Group's counsel, Michael Silverleaf QC, offered its "sincere apologies" to Ms Miller for the damage and distress caused.

It acknowledged that the information should never have been obtained in the manner it was, the private information should never have been published and it had accepted liability.

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Phone-hacking scandal widens to include Kate Middleton and Tony Blair

MP calls for expanded investigation as list grows of those allegedly hacked by Jonathan Rees for News International

By Nick Davies


Wednesday 8 June 2011 18.36 BST

Pressure is building on the Metropolitan police to expand their phone-hacking inquiry to include a notorious private investigator who was accused in the House of Commons on Wednesday of targeting politicians, members of the royal family and high-level terrorist informers on behalf of Rupert Murdoch's News International.

Guardian inquiries reveal that the former prime minister Tony Blair is among the suspected victims of Jonathan Rees, who was involved in the theft of confidential data, the hacking of computers and, it is alleged, burglary. According to close associates of Rees, he also targeted:

• Jack Straw when he was home secretary, Peter Mandelson when he was trade secretary and Blair's media adviser Alastair Campbell;

• Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent, all of whom are said to have had their bank accounts penetrated, and Kate Middleton when she was Prince William's girlfriend;

• The former commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir John Stevens, and the current assistant commissioner, John Yates, who later supervised the failed phone-hacking inquiry for 19 months;

• The governor and deputy governor of the Bank of England, whose mortgage account details were obtained and sold.

Rees, who worked for the Mirror Group as well as the New of the World, is also accused of using a specialist computer hacker in July 2006 to steal information about MI6 agents who had infiltrated the Provisional IRA. According to a BBC Panorama programme in March, Rees was commissioned by Alex Marunchak, then the News of the World's executive editor, to hack the information from the computer of Ian Hurst, a former British intelligence officer in Northern Ireland who had stayed in contact with several highly vulnerable agents. Marunchak has denied the allegations.

The Guardian has previously identified other suspected targets of Rees, including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, George Michael, Linford Christie, Gary Lineker, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, and the family of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.

None of these cases has been officially confirmed or even investigated. With many of them, it is not yet clear precisely what form of surveillance Rees and his agency, Southern Investigations, were using. Answers may lie in the "boxloads" of paperwork the Metropolitan police are believed to have seized from Rees.

But the Labour MP Tom Watson told the prime minister on Wednesday the head of the Operation Weeting inquiry into the News of the World's investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, had told him that it may be beyond its terms of reference to investigate this evidence.

"Prime minister, powerful forces are attempting a cover-up," Watson said. "Please tell me what you intend to do, to make sure this doesn't happen."

While Glenn Mulcaire worked for the News of the World as a full-time employee from 2001, Rees worked freelance for the Mirror Group and the News of the World from the mid 1990s. His agency was earning up to £150,000 a year from the News of the World alone. In 1999, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years for conspiring to plant cocaine on a woman so that her husband would get custody of their children.

After his release in May 2004, the News of the World continued to hire him under the editorship of Andy Coulson, who went on to become David Cameron's media adviser. Rees's targets during this period included Prince William's then girlfriend, Kate Middleton.

On Wednesday, a News International spokesperson said: "It is well documented that Jonathan Rees and Southern Investigations worked for a whole variety of newspaper groups. With regards to Tom Watson's specific allegations, we believe these are wholly inaccurate. The Met police, with whom we are co-operating fully in Operation Weeting, have not asked us for any information regarding Jonathan Rees. We note again that Tom Watson MP made these allegations under parliamentary privilege."

Scotland Yard is believed to have collected hundreds of thousands of documents during a series of investigations into Rees over his links with corrupt officers, and over the 1987 murder of his former business partner, Daniel Morgan. Charges of murder against Rees were dismissed earlier this year.

Daniel Morgan's brother, Alastair, who has been gathering information for a book, told the Guardian he was aware from his own investigations and from material revealed in court hearings that the Metropolitan police was holding "boxloads" of evidence on Rees's activities. Guardian inquiries suggest that this paperwork could include explosive new evidence of illegal news-gathering by the News of the World and other papers.

According to journalists and investigators who worked with him, Rees exploited his position as a freemason to make links with masonic police officers who illegally sold him information on targets chosen by the News of the World, the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mirror. One close contact, Det Sgt Sid Fillery, left the Metropolitan police to become Rees's business partner and added more officers to their network. Fillery was subsequently convicted of possession of indecent images of children.

Some police contacts are said to have been blackmailed into providing confidential information. One of Rees's former associates claims that Rees had compromising photographs of serving officers, including one who was caught in a drunken coma with a couple of prostitutes and with a toilet seat around his neck. Rees claimed to be in touch with corrupt Customs officers, a corrupt VAT inspector and two corrupt bank employees.

An investigator who worked for Rees claims he was commissioning burglaries of public figures to steal material for newspapers. Southern Investigations has previously been implicated in handling paperwork which was stolen by a professional burglar from the safe of Paddy Ashdown's lawyer, when Ashdown was leader of the Liberal Democrats. The paperwork, which was eventually obtained by the News of the World, recorded Ashdown discussing his fears that newspapers might expose an affair with his secretary.

The Guardian has confirmed that Rees also used two specialist "blaggers" who would telephone the Inland Revenue, the DVLA, banks and phone companies and trick them into handing over private data to be sold to Fleet Street.

One of the blaggers who regularly worked for him, John Gunning, was responsible for obtaining details of bank accounts belonging to Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, which were then sold to the Sunday Mirror. Gunning was later convicted of illegally obtaining confidential data from British Telecom. Rees also obtained details of accounts at Coutts bank belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Kent. The bank accounts of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, are also thought to have been compromised.

The Guardian has been told that Rees spoke openly about obtaining confidential data belonging to senior politicians and recorded their names in his paperwork. One source close to Rees claims that apart from Tony Blair, Straw, Mandelson and Campbell, he also targeted Gaynor Regan, who became the second wife of the foreign secretary, Robin Cook, the former shadow home secretary, Gerald Kaufman; and the former Tory minister David Mellor.

It is not yet known precisley what Rees was doing with these political targets, although in the case of Peter Mandelson, it appears that Rees obtained confidential details of two bank accounts which he held at Coutts, and his building society account at Britannia. Rees is also said to have targeted his brother, Miles Mandelson.

Separately, for the News of the World, Glenn Mulcaire was hacking the voicemail of the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, Straw's successor as home secretary, David Blunkett, the media secretary, Tessa Jowell, and the Europe minister, Chris Bryant. Scotland Yard has repeatedly refused to reveal how many politicians were victims of phone hacking, although Simon Hughes, Boris Johnson and George Galloway have all been named.

The succesful hacking of a computer belonging to the former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst was achieved in July 2006 by sending Hurst an email containing a Trojan program which copied Hurst's emails and relayed them to the hacker. This included messages he had exchanged with at least two agents who informed on the Provisional IRA – Freddie Scappaticci, codenamed Stakeknife; and a second informant known as Kevin Fulton. Both men were regarded as high-risk targets for assassination. Hurst was one of the very few people who knew their whereabouts. The hacker cannot be named for legal reasons.

There would be further security concern if Rees's paperwork confirmed strong claims by those close to him that he claimed to have targeted the then Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir John Stevens, who would have had regular access to highly sensitive intelligence. Sir John's successor, Sir Ian Blair, is believed to have been targeted by Glenn Mulcaire, although it has not been confirmed that Mulcaire succeeded in listening to his voicemail. Assistant commissioner John Yates was targeted by Rees when Yates was running inquiries into police corruption in the late 1990s. It appears that Yates did not realise that he himself had been a target when he was responsible for the policing of the phone-hacking affair between July 2009 and January 2011.

Targeting the Bank of England, Rees is believed to have earned thousands of pounds by penetrating the past or present mortgage accounts of the then governor, Eddie George, his deputy, Mervyn King, who is now governor, and half-a-dozen other members of the monetary policy committee.

According to police information provided to the Guardian in September 2002, an internal Scotland Yard report recorded that Rees and his network were engaged in long-term penetration of police intelligence and that "their thirst for knowledge is driven by profit to be accrued from the media".

Operation Weeting has been investigating phone hacking by the News of the World since January. The paper's assistant editor, Ian Edmondson, chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, and former news editor James Weatherup have been arrested and released on police bail.

On Wednesday, A police spokesman said: "[We] can confirm that since January 2011 the MPS [Metropolitan police service] has received a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy which fall outside the remit of Operation Weeting. These allegations are currently being considered."

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Phone hacking: police have more than 100 recordings

Lawyers for celebrities suing News of the World claim tapes could contain voicemails recorded by investigator Glenn Mulcaire

By James Robinson


Monday 20 June 2011 15.28 BST

The Metropolitan police have more than 100 recordings that were made by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the News of the World, it emerged in the high court today.

Lawyers acting for several of the public figures who are suing the paper's owner, News Group Newspapers, claim a substantial number of the tapes and MiniDiscs seized by Scotland Yard five years ago are likely to contain voicemail messages the private investigator intercepted illegally.

They were in court this morning to seek an order which would force the Met to hand over all the material it seized in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire's home as part of an investigation which lead to his arrest and imprisonment. That material also includes 11,000 pages of detailed notes which are likely to list the people Mulcaire targeted.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, one of the barristers representing the phone-hacking victims, said the claimants needed to see that information to establish when Mulcaire started to intercept their messages and the "modus operandi" he used to do so.

Tomlinson said the News of the World had not disclosed documents which cast light on the paper's use of Mulcaire.

"The people we say are the wrongdoers have little or no documents of a contemporaneous or relevant nature for whatever reason," he added.

The Met is resisting that request because Mulcaire's records contain personal information belonging to scores of well-known people who have no connection with the current cases. Redacting their names could take many months, according to the police.

The claimants want to see the information unredacted, although it would only be seen by the parties in the case and would not be made publicly available. Football agent Sky Andrew, Labour MP Chris Bryant and former Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray are amongst those suing Mulcaire and the News of the World for breach of privacy.

The court heard the Met has divided the material seized from Mulcaire into 148 categories. Tomlinson said it was necessary to see it in order to see "when [Mulcaire's activity] began, how it operated and when it ended".

He said the content of the messages was not important but the dates on which they were made could help claimants demonstrate how widespread the investigator's activities were. That could effect the amount of damages given.

The court also heard that News Group had conceded an attempt to access Andrew's voicemail had been made 33 times between February 2005 and August 2006 but that 19 of those attempts were unsuccessful and a further four were likely to have been failed attempts. No stories were published as a result.

Mr Justice Vos said the court was not conducting a public inquiry and pointed out claimants already had the pages from Mulcaire's notebooks which related directly to them. He is likely to decide whether to grant the order late this on Monday or Tuesday.

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Phone hacking: 34-year-old woman arrested in London

Woman, who works as a journalist for the Press Association newswire service, arrested on Monday by appointment

By James Robinson


Monday 27 June 2011 17.32 BST

Scotland Yard have arrested a 34-year old female journalist on suspicion of illegally accessing voicemail messages.

The Metropolitan Police would not confirm the name of the woman, who works for the Press Association newswire. She is understood to be Laura Elston, a royal reporter who is believed to have worked at PA for over a decade.

She was arrested at around 3pm by appointment at a central London police station. She is currently being questioned by officers from Operation Weeting, the Met's investigation into phone hacking that began at the start of the year.

PA confirmed that one of its journalists had been arrested. She is the fifth person to be arrested as part of the current police inquiry.

It is not known if the journalist has ever worked at the News of the World, which up to this point has been the main focus of Operation Weeting.

On Thursday last week a 39-year-old woman was arrested at her home in West Yorkshire by Scotland Yard officers as part of Operation Weeting, on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications contrary to section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. She was released later the same day after questioning at a West Yorkshire police station.

The woman, believed to be Terenia Taras, contributed more than 30 stories for the News of the World as a freelance between 1998 and 2004, although Scotland Yard would not confirm this.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said she had been bailed to return to a West Yorkshire police station in mid-October.

Taras is the ex-girlfriend of Greg Miskiw, the News of the World's former assistant editor (news), who is currently in the US.

She has also written occasionally for other tabloids including, most recently, the Sunday Mirror and, less often, for the Daily Mail. Her last bylined article appeared in the Sunday Mirror in December 2007.

In April a senior reporter at the News of the World, James Weatherup, was arrested and questioned. Weatherup, who has also worked as a news editor with the Sunday tabloid, was released after questioning.

The paper's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and assistant editor (news) Ian Edmondson, were also held in April and released on police bail to return in September.

Days later the Met launched Operation Weeting, after receiving "significant new information" from News International.

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said on Wednesday the Operation Weeting team remained at 45 strong and was continuing its wide-ranging inquiry into phone hacking as well as providing information for the civil court claims.

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Rupert Murdoch: Empire of the Sun

No well-functioning democracy should allow one man to frame its window on the world



Thursday 30 June 2011 20.29 BST

Dragged to the House of Commons to explain why he was licensing a fresh expansion of the Murdoch media empire, Jeremy Hunt yesterday wondered aloud why it fell to politicians as opposed to independent regulators to settle such things. The culture secretary's thought was an interesting one, betraying a recognition of the terrible temptations he faced. But like an alcoholic discussing his problem over a pint, he succumbed all the same. In the midst of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, Ofcom's turn-of-the-year advice to refer the decision to the Competition Commission provided the perfect opportunity for Mr Hunt to keep his hands clean. But far from clearing the murk that always surrounds News Corporation's dealings with elected power, he has greatly thickened the fog.

The Australian-born American citizen Rupert Murdoch commands just under 40% of the UK newspaper market, and just under 40% of the vast BSkyB. Now, with Mr Hunt's help, he is set to increase that second figure to 100%, and to merge the two operations, creating unique opportunities for bundling up paper and TV advertising and sales. Even in Berlusconi's Italy there are restrictions on broadcasters moving into print. No well-functioning democracy should allow one man to frame its window on the world. But then the institutions of British democracy have hardly been functioning well of late in relation to Mr Murdoch.

The fourth estate of the free press, in which we are of course one interested party, is one of those institutions. It should check and balance political power from the outside, while itself being held in check by the ordinary processes of the criminal law. The fact that BSkyB's summer party last night was staged in the Foreign Office, however, seemed apt: Murdoch's tentacles reach deep into the establishment's heart. A fortnight before yesterday's decision, the prime minister – who had of course basked in the warmth of the Sun in last year's close election – attended a closed summit of CEOs at News International's Wapping base. But two decades after the Sun claimed to have won it for John Major, and one and a half since Tony Blair flew to Singapore to woo Mr Murdoch, reports of politicians kowtowing to News Corp have lost all power to shock. What is new – and what, surely, ought to have given Mr Hunt pause for thought – is the emerging evidence that the company has been run as a law unto itself.

After years of denials, supine Press Complaints Commission oversight and an odd reticence on the part of the police, the truth has very slowly asserted its power in the phone-hacking scandal. Dozens of detectives have been looking into the dealings of just one Murdoch paper, there are multiple lawsuits involving politicians as well as celebrities, and the News Corp board has made an unprecedented admission of guilt. With a handful of arrests already made, and with live questions remaining about whether the men and women at the top could be charged under Section 79 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, any cabinet minister worth their salt would be desperate to keep their distance from this company if it were in any other line of business. It is true that no charges have yet been pressed, and so it is proper for ministers to be cautious. Being cautious, however, would have meant passing the file to the Competition Commission. Instead, Mr Hunt clung on to it and justified this by devising special arrangements to secure the editorial independence of Sky News, wilfully disregarding the Murdoch record in thwarting safeguards for past acquisitions, from the Times to the Wall Street Journal.

Confronted with News Corp's awesome power, Mr Hunt has made it more powerful still. The web movement Avaaz is marshalling dissent from the margins. But within the mainstream, ever more voices must answer to a single empire, and democracy will pay the price

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Missing Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of the World

Deleted voicemails gave family false hope

• Hacking interfered with police hunt

• Family lawyer: actions 'heinous and despicable'

By Nick Davies and Amelia Hill


Monday 4 July 2011 16.29 BST

Milly Dowler was last seen alive on 21 March 2002. Photograph: Surrey police/PA

The News of the World illegally targeted the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and her family in March 2002, interfering with police inquiries into her disappearance, an investigation by the Guardian has established.

Scotland Yard is investigating the episode, which is likely to put new pressure on the then-editor of the paper, Rebekah Brooks, now Rupert Murdoch's chief executive in the UK; and the then deputy editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned in January as the prime minister's media adviser.

The Dowlers' family lawyer this afternoon issued a statement in which he described the News of the World's activities as "heinous" and "despicable". He told the BBC this afternoon the Dowler family was now pursuing a damages claim against the News of the World.

Milly Dowler disappeared at the age of 13 on her way home in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on 21 March 2002.

Detectives from Scotland Yard's new inquiry into the phone hacking, Operation Weeting, are believed to have found evidence of the targeting of the Dowlers in a collection of 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for phone hacking on behalf of the News of the World.

In the last four weeks the Met officers have approached Surrey police and taken formal statements from some of those involved in the original inquiry, who were concerned about how News of the World journalists intercepted – and deleted – the voicemail messages of Milly Dowler.

The messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly's disappearance in order to free up space for more messages. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly that she might still be alive. Police feared evidence may have been destroyed.

The Guardian investigation has shown that, within a very short time of Milly vanishing, News of the World journalists reacted by engaging in what was standard practice in their newsroom: they hired private investigators to get them a story.

Their first step was simple, albeit illegal. Paperwork seen by the Guardian reveals that they paid a Hampshire private investigator, Steve Whittamore, to obtain home addresses and, where necessary, ex-directory phone numbers for any families called Dowler in the Walton area. The three addresses Whittamore found could be obtained lawfully on the electoral register. The two ex-directory numbers, however, were "blagged" illegally from British Telecom's confidential records by one of Whittamore's associates, John Gunning, who works from a base in Wiltshire. One of the ex-directory numbers was attributed by Whittamore to Milly's family home.

Then, with the help of its own full-time private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, the News of the World started illegally intercepting mobile phone messages. Scotland Yard is now investigating evidence that the paper hacked directly into the voicemail of the missing girl's own phone. As her friends and parents called and left messages imploring Milly to get in touch with them, the News of the World was listening and recording their every private word.

But the journalists at the News of the World then encountered a problem. Milly's voicemail box filled up and would accept no more messages. Apparently thirsty for more information from more voicemails, the News of the World intervened – and deleted the messages that had been left in the first few days after her disappearance. According to one source, this had a devastating effect: when her friends and family called again and discovered that her voicemail had been cleared, they concluded that this must have been done by Milly herself and, therefore, that she must still be alive. But she was not. The interference created false hope and extra agony for those who were misled by it.

The Dowler family then granted an exclusive interview to the News of the World in which they talked about their hope, quite unaware that it had been falsely kindled by the newspaper's own intervention. Sally Dowler told the paper: "If Milly walked through the door, I don't think we'd be able to speak. We'd just weep tears of joy and give her a great big hug."

The deletion of the messages also caused difficulties for the police by confusing the picture when they had few leads to pursue.It also potentially destroyed valuable evidence.

According to one senior source familiar with the Surrey police investigation: "It can happen with abduction murders that the perpetrator will leave messages, asking the missing person to get in touch, as part of their efforts at concealment. We need those messages as evidence. Anybody who destroys that evidence is seriously interfering with the course of a police investigation."

The paper made little effort to conceal the hacking from its readers. On 14 April 2002, it published a story about a woman allegedly pretending to be Milly Dowler who had applied for a job with a recruitment agency: "It is thought the hoaxer even gave the agency Milly's real mobile number … The agency used the number to contact Milly when a job vacancy arose and left a message on her voicemail … It was on March 27, six days after Milly went missing, that the employment agency appears to have phoned her mobile."

The newspaper also made no effort to conceal its activity from Surrey police. After it had hacked the message from the recruitment agency on Milly's phone, the paper informed police about it. It was Surrey detectives who established that the call was not intended for Milly Dowler. At the time, Surrey police suspected that phones belonging to detectives and to Milly's parents also were being targeted.

One of those who was involved in the original inquiry said: "We'd arrange landline calls. We didn't trust our mobiles."

However, they took no action against the News of the World, partly because their main focus was to find the missing schoolgirl and partly because this was only one example of tabloid misbehaviour. As one source close to the inquiry put it: "There was a hell of a lot of dirty stuff going on." Two earlier Yard inquiries had failed to investigate the relevant notes in Mulcaire's logs.

In a statement today, the family's lawyer, Mark Lewis of Taylor Hampton, said the Dowlers were distressed at the revelation. "It is distress heaped upon tragedy to learn that the News of the World had no humanity at such a terrible time. The fact that they were prepared to act in such a heinous way that could have jeopardised the police investigation and give them false hope is despicable," he said.

The News of the World's investigation was part of a long campaign against paedophiles championed by the then editor, Rebekah Brooks. The Labour MP Tom Watson last week told the House of Commons that four months after Milly Dowler's disappearance the News of the World had targeted one of the parents of the two 10-year-old Soham girls, Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, who were abducted and murdered on 4 August 2002.

The behaviour of tabloid newspapers became an issue in the trial of Levi Bellfield, who last month was jailed for life for murdering Milly Dowler. A second charge, that he had attempted to abduct another Surrey schoolgirl, Rachel Cowles, had to be left on file after premature publicity by tabloids was held to have made it impossible for the jury to reach a fair verdict. The tabloids, however, focused their anger on Bellfield's defence lawyer, complaining that the questioning had caused unnecessary pain to Milly Dowler's parents.

Surrey police referred all questions on the subject to Scotland Yard, who said they could not discuss it.

The News of the World's parent company News International, part of Murdoch's media empire, said: "We have been co-operating fully with Operation Weeting since our voluntary disclosure in January restarted the investigation into illegal voicemail interception. This particular case is clearly a development of great concern and we will be conducting our own inquiries. We will obviously co-operate fully with any police request on this should we be asked."

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The importance of this development:

Matt Prodger

Home affairs correspondent

This is a watershed in a phone hacking scandal which has hitherto focused largely on the plight of celebrities whose phones were hacked. They're entitled to privacy as much as anyone, but there's been a limit to the public's sympathy.

Not so with Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old victim of a hideous crime; the messages said to have been hacked were the frantic enquiries of family and friends desperate to know of her whereabouts. It will turn most people's stomachs.

It's more trouble for News International, long criticised for allegedly failing to come clean about the extent of the phone hacking by its journalists. Andy Coulson resigned twice because of it; first as NoW editor, then as Downing Street's director of communications.

Rebekah Brooks was editor of the NoW at the time of the Milly Dowler abduction. She's long denied knowledge of phone hacking. Today she's chief executive of News International. But for how much longer?


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Milly Dowler phone hacking: Speaker grants emergency Commons debate

Labour MP Chris Bryant successfully pushes for Wednesday debate on call for public inquiry into News International

By Patrick Wintour, political editor


Tuesday 5 July 2011 17.28 BST

Labour MP Chris Bryant convinced the Speaker John Bercow to allow the emergency debate into phone hacking in light of the scandal surrounding Milly Dowler. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

The Speaker has granted a rare emergency Commons debate on Wednesday into calls for a public inquiry into phone hacking by News International journalists, and a potential cover up by its senior executives.

A day after the Guardian revealed the News of the World illegally targeted the missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler and her family following her disappearance in 2002, the first emergency debate to be granted since November 2008 was given the go-ahead.

The debate – starting after prime minister's questions and a statement by the PM about his visit to Afghanistan – will end with a call by Labour for a public inquiry.

Ministers present in the Commons chamber opposed the emergency debate but, in what will be seen as another show of force by the Speaker John Bercow, he accepted arguments in favour put by Labour MP Chris Bryant.

Large numbers of Labour MPs stood up to support Bryant's call, along with a smattering of Liberal Democrats and some Tory backbenchers such as Zac Goldsmith and Bill Cash.

Labour is undecided about whether or not to put forward a substantive motion calling for a public inquiry that could be subject to a vote or amendment. Instead, they could try to flush out Conservative party support for News International by showing its MPs are objecting to the principle of setting up an inquiry after the police investigation is complete.

The prime minister's spokesman was unable to say whether David Cameron would support a call for a public inquiry after the police investigation was complete, explaining that the prime minister was returning from Afghanistan.

The coalition benches were trying to hold the line on Tuesday that they were not ruling out a public inquiry, but felt nothing should stand in the way of the police investigation.

Calling for the emergency debate, Bryant said those responsible at News of the World should be "truly ashamed" and that the newspaper could no longer "pretend that this comes as a massive surprise to them" having repeatedly lied over the extent of phone hacking.

He claimed the News of the World stood accused of "playing God with a family's emotions" in the case of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, who had her voicemails accessed and deleted after she disappeared in March 2002.


Rebekah Brooks: 'It's inconceivable I knew of Milly Dowler phone hacking'

News International chief executive tells staff she will not quit

• Press complaints boss says News of the World lied to inquiry

• Miliband calls on Brooks to consider 'her position'

By James Robinson, Adam Gabbatt, Sandra Laville, Nick Davies and Amelia Hill


Tuesday 5 July 2011 14.32 BST

Rebekah Brooks has come under mounting pressure to resign over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Photograph: Paul Grover /Rex Features

Rebekah Brooks has told employees it is "inconceivable" she knew that the News of the World hacked into Milly Dowler's mobile phone.

The News International chief executive said she was "sickened" by the events, but insisted she was "determined to lead the company" – despite calls for her to resign.

Ed Miliband said Brooks should "consider her position" and has called for a public inquiry after the Guardian revealed the News of the World illegally accessed Dowler's voicemail messages under Brooks's editorship. David Cameron earlier described the hacking as a "truly dreadful act" and urged police to "pursue this in the most vigorous way", while the home secretary, Theresa May, said anyone who could commit such hacking was "sick".

Brooks, who was editing the paper at the time, emailed employees today to tell them: "It is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations. I am aware of the speculation about my position. Therefore it is important you all know that as chief executive, I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues."

Brooks said she has written to Milly Dowler's parents on Tuesday morning "to assure them News International will vigorously pursue the truth and that they will be the first to be informed of the outcome of our investigation".

She added: "I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened. Not just because I was editor of the News of the World at the time, but if the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable."

Senior executives at News International discussed the Dowler revelations at a meeting with police this morning to talk about Scotland Yard's ongoing investigation into phone hacking. News International said Rebekah Brooks was not present at the meeting.

A senior source at the News of the World's owner said it was a pre-arranged meeting with officers from Operation Weeting, the Met's investigation into phone hacking that began at the start of the year.

Brooks said in her email: "This morning, in our regular Operation Weeting meeting, we have offered the MPS our full co-operation to establish the veracity of these fresh allegations."

Miliband had earlier called for a public inquiry and said Brooks should "consider her conscience and consider her position", as pressure mounts on the chief executive.

Meanwhile, the Press Complaints Commission chairwoman Peta Buscombe said she was lied to by the News of the World over phone hacking.

Buscombe had said in 2009 that the PCC was not misled by the News of the World during its own inquiry into phone hacking. However, on the BBC's Daily Politics show, she admitted she had been "misled by the News of the World".

"There's only so much we can do when people are lying to us. We know now that I was not being given the truth by the News of the World," Buscombe said. She denied having sided with the newspaper.

Miliband said the latest revelations in the News of the World phone-hacking saga were a "stain" on news reporting in the country. He added that the hacking "represents one of the darkest days in British journalism".

Earlier Cameron, currently in Afghanistan, said of the Guardian's revelation that the News of the World illegally targeted Milly Dowler and her family: "If they are true this is a truly dreadful act and a truly dreadful situation."

He added: "There is a police investigation into hacking allegations … they should investigate this without any fear, without any favour, without any worry about where the evidence should lead them.

"They should pursue this in the most vigorous way that they can in order to get to the truth of what happened. That is the absolute priority as a police investigation."

The home secretary told the home affairs select committee the revelations were "totally shocking" but said she did not know if the News of the World used hacking in relation to the Soham murders.

May was asked if there should be a public inquiry into the affair, but said the ongoing police investigation should be allowed to run.

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, whose force is accused of not investigating phone hacking properly in the first place, said on Tuesday: "My heart goes out to the Dowler family."

He told BBC London: "I have to be very careful to say nothing that could prejudice our live investigation but if it is proved to be true, then irrespective of the legality or illegality of it, I'm not sure there is anyone who wouldn't be appalled and repulsed by such behaviour."

Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott said on Twitter that he would write to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, demanding he block News Corp's bid to take full control of pay-TV company BSkyB following the revelations about Dowler.

However, John Whittingdale, the chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that phone hacking at the News of the World should not taint the rest of Rupert Murdoch's empire. "You cannot necessarily condemn the entire of News Corp just because of the actions of some individuals in another part of the organisation," he said.

"News International is a part of News Corp but it's a different part. News Corp is a global enterprise and I don't think one should condemn the entire organisation because something very clearly was going wrong in the News of the World."

Detectives from Operation Weeting are believed to have found evidence of the targeting of the Dowlers in a collection of 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for phone hacking on behalf of the News of the World.

In the past four weeks Met officers have approached Surrey police and taken formal statements from some of those involved in the original inquiry, who were concerned about how News of the World journalists intercepted – and deleted – the voicemail messages of Milly Dowler.

The messages were deleted by journalists in the first few days after Milly's disappearance to create space for more messages. As a result friends and relatives of Milly concluded wrongly she might still be alive. Police also feared evidence may have been destroyed.


July 5, 2011

Anger Rises Over Hack to Missing Girl’s Voice Mail

The New York Times


LONDON — The voice mailbox of a British schoolgirl who went missing in 2002 and whose murdered body was discovered six months later was repeatedly hacked by the News of the World tabloid at a time when no one knew what had happened to her, a lawyer for her family said Monday.

According to the lawyer, Mark Lewis, the newspaper not only intercepted messages left at the cellphone number of the girl, Milly Dowler, 13, by her increasingly frantic family after her disappearance, but also deleted some of those messages when her voice mailbox became full — thus making room for new ones and listening to those in turn. This confused investigators and gave false hope to Milly’s relatives, who believed it showed she was still alive and deleting the messages herself, Mr. Lewis said.

In a statement, Mr. Lewis called the newspaper’s actions “heinous” and “despicable” and said the Dowler family had suffered “distress heaped upon tragedy” upon learning that News of the World “had no humanity at such a terrible time.”

The British prime minister David Cameron, while on a visit to Afghanistan, put more pressure on the newspaper on Tuesday, calling the allegations shocking. “If they are true, this is a truly dreadful act and a truly dreadful situation,” he said, according to comments carried by The Associated Press.

The disclosures, reported first in The Guardian, came as part of a broader police investigation into The News of the World’s routine practice of intercepting the cellphone messages of celebrities, politicians and other public figures in the mid-2000s. The newspaper has admitted that it did so in some cases, and has paid damages to the actress Sienna Miller and others. Numerous other people who say that their phones were hacked are suing the paper.

But the revelations about Milly Dowler are significant for two reasons. The first is that the alleged hacking in this case occurred in 2002 — five years before The News of the World’s chief royal reporter, Clive Goodman, was jailed along with Glenn Mulcaire, an investigator hired by the paper, after they were found guilty of intercepting the phone messages of members of the royal family. The police investigation has so far focused on behavior since 2007; the Dowler case is the first to indicate publicly that the police investigation may be widening to include earlier cases.

The second is that in 2002, the editor of The News of the World was Rebekah Brooks, a confidante and favorite of Rupert Murdoch, whose corporation owns the paper. Ms. Brooks, who is now chief executive of News International, the British newspaper division of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, has always denied knowing anything about voice-mail hacking at any Murdoch-owned papers.

In an e-mail she sent to employees on Tuesday, she repeated that assertion.

“I hope that you all realize it is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations,” she wrote in the e-mail. She also said, “It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way.”

If Mr. Lewis’s accusations about hacking during the Dowler case prove accurate, it would mean either that Ms. Brooks had no idea how the paper she edited was obtaining information about the Dowler family for its articles, or that she knew about the hacking and allowed it.

Evidence that News of the World had hacked into Milly’s cellphone voice mail and to those of her family members was found in notebooks belonging to Mr. Mulcaire that were turned over to the police as part of a wider investigation, The Guardian reported.

Mr. Lewis told the BBC that the police had notified Milly Dowler’s parents that “News of the World, or Glenn Mulcaire, was hacking into Milly Dowler’s voice mail while she was a missing person.”

“You have to ask the question: who was at The News of the World thinking it was appropriate to try and hack into the phone of a missing young girl, and what was Glenn Mulcaire thinking of at the time to take those instructions?” he said. “Both of them should have had common decency, moral right, to turn around and say, no, they weren’t prepared to do that.”

In a statement, The News of the World said it was cooperating with the police and added, “This particular case is clearly a development of great concern.”

And in her e-mail, Ms. Brooks said, “If the allegations are proved to be true then I can promise the strongest possible action will be taken as this company will not tolerate such disgraceful behavior.”

Milly Dowler’s disappearance became a cause celebre in the national media, and the police followed many false leads before the trail went cold. The discovery of her body in the Hampshire woods six months after she went missing led the authorities no closer to her killer. Six years later, a former nightclub bouncer named Levi Bellfield, who had already been convicted of murdering two girls and attempting to murder a third, was identified as the chief suspect in the case. He was convicted of Milly’s murder last month, and sentenced to life in prison; the police believe he may be responsible for a number of other unsolved murders.


Revealed: Brooks’ past link with Milly private detective

Revelation piles pressure on Murdoch executive whilst advertisers boycott News of the World as scandal grows. Now police contact Sohamparents amid fresh allegations

The Independent

By Cahal Milmo and Martin Hickman

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, personally commissioned searches by one of the private investigators who was later used by the News of the World to trace the family of the murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, The Independent can reveal. Ms Brooks, while editor of NOTW, used Steve Whittamore, a private detective who specialised in obtaining illegal information to “convert” a mobile phone number to find its registered owner. Mr Whittamore also provided the paper with the Dowlers’ ex-directory home phone number.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which successfully prosecuted Whittamore for breaches of the Data Protection Act in 2005, said last night it would have been illegal to obtain the mobile conversion if the details had been "blagged" from a phone company.

Ms Brooks, who said yesterday she was "shocked and appalled" at the latest hacking claims, admitted requesting the information. But she said it could be obtained by "perfectly legitimate means". She faced demands for her resignation last night.

The revelation came as News International battled a political and commercial firestorm over the disclosure that its bestselling paper interfered with the police investigation into Milly's disappearance in March 2002 by hacking into her mobile phone and deleting messages. One big advertiser, Ford, announced it was suspending its account with the paper while the energy company nPower and Halifax bank said they were considering options. Thousands of readers joined boycott campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.

An emergency three-hour debate is to be held in the House of Commons today. The Labour leader Ed Miliband hardened his position on the scandal, demanding a public inquiry and calling for Ms Brooks to "consider her conscience and consider her position".

David Cameron described the hacking as "quite shocking" and a "truly dreadful act", but rebuffed the call for a public inquiry. He insisted Scotland Yard be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it led.

Yesterday it led to Cambridgeshire, where police confirmed there was evidence that Glenn Mulcaire, the NOTW's private investigator who is accused of hacking Milly's phone, targeted the families of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, who were murdered in Soham in 2002.

Responding to growing clamour for her to step down, Ms Brooks yesterday told News International staff it was "inconceivable" that she knew of or sanctioned the hacking of Milly's mobile phone.

In a passionate defence of her position, she wrote: "I have to tell you that I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened. Not just because I was editor of the News of the World at the time, but if the accusations are true, the devastating effect on Milly Dowler's family is unforgivable."

No evidence has been presented that Ms Brooks was aware of Mulcaire's activities surrounding Milly's disappearance. But an investigation by The Independent shows she was aware of the existence of Whittamore, who used an associate to obtain the Dowlers' home phone number from BT, and made use of his services in an unrelated case.

A copy of the "Blue Book" obtained by The Independent, which covers more than 1,000 transactions carried out for New International's titles between 2000 and 2003, records a request in 2001 from Ms Brooks (whose surname was then Wade) for a "mobile conversion" along with a mobile phone number. She made a second request for an electoral roll search for an address in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. The address was occupied at the time by a painter-decorator who lived in a flat above a bike shop in the town.

A friend said: "I have no idea why the editor of the News of the World would have been interested in him. He's just an ordinary guy."

When asked last year by MPs to explain the circumstances around her request, Ms Brooks said she could no longer remember why she wanted to convert the number.

"This was nine years ago and I cannot recall why I required this particular conversion," she wrote.

"You should note that 'conversion'... is often carried out through perfectly legitimate means such as a web search."

An ICO spokeswoman said: "If that information was obtained by 'blagging' then it would have been illegal under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act."

As the fallout from the row continued, Mulcaire, whose home was besieged by reporters, said he had been acting under "relentless pressure" from the paper. "Working for the News of the World was never easy," he said in a statement.

"There was relentless pressure. There was a constant demand for results. I knew what we did pushed the limits ethically.

"But, at the time, I didn't understand that I had broken the law at all. I never had any intention of interfering with any police inquiry into any crime."

News International last night failed to respond to a request for comment on Ms Brooks' requests to Whittamore. Simon Greenberg, a spokesman for the company, said that Ms Brooks would not be stepping down over the hacking of Milly's phone: "This happened back in 2002, she's now chief executive of a company in 2011. She's absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this issue."

He said the company had launched a full inquiry to establish the facts of the hacking of Milly's phone during Ms Brooks' time as editor.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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It might be possible that we are seeing the beginning of the destruction of the Murdoch Empire. The most important aspect of this story is the exposure of a cabal that includes media owners, leading politicians and senior figures in the police force. The fact that the police had a 11,000 pages of notes, written by Glenn Mulcaire, the convicted phone-hacker, that gave the names of the thousands of people he hacked, their phone-numbers, pin-numbers and the name of the journalists who commissioned the work, but did nothing about it, clearly shows corruption at the highest level.

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It might be possible that we are seeing the beginning of the destruction of the Murdoch Empire. The most important aspect of this story is the exposure of a cabal that includes media owners, leading politicians and senior figures in the police force. The fact that the police had a 11,000 pages of notes, written by Glenn Mulcaire, the convicted phone-hacker, that gave the names of the thousands of people he hacked, their phone-numbers, pin-numbers and the name of the journalists who commissioned the work, but did nothing about it, clearly shows corruption at the highest level.

Met chief: Phone hacking documents point to 'inappropriate payments'

Sir Paul Stephenson confirms News International documents appear to include information on payments to police officers

By Haroon Siddique


Wednesday 6 July 2011 13.40 BST

The Met police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, said he had discussed the matter with the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, has said that documents provided by News International as part of the investigation into phone hacking appear to include information on "inappropriate payments" to police officers.

His comments came after it was reported on Tuesday night that News International had given his force details of payments made by News of the World to senior police officers between 2003 and 2007, the period when Andy Coulson was the paper's editor.

Stephenson said on Wednesday he was taking the "unusual step" of issuing a statement because of widespread media coverage and public interest surrounding Operation Weeting, the investigation into phone hacking.

He said: "I can confirm that on 20 June 2011 the MPS [Metropolitan police service] was handed a number of documents by News International, through their barrister, Lord Macdonald QC. Our initial assessment shows that these documents include information relating to alleged inappropriate payments to a small number of MPS officers."

He said the matter had been discussed with the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which concluded that it should continue to be investigated by Operation Elveden, led by the Met deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers, in partnership with the force's Directorate of Professional Standards.

Stephenson added: "At this time we have not seen any evidence requiring a referral to the Metropolitan Police Authority in respect of any senior officer. Whilst I am deeply concerned by recent developments surrounding phone hacking they are a product of the meticulous and thorough work of Operation Weeting, which will continue. Operation Elveden will be equally thorough and robust. Anyone identified of wrongdoing can expect the full weight of disciplinary measures and if appropriate action through the criminal courts."

There have been suggestions from some quarters that the story relating to Coulson allegedly paying police officers, featured prominently in the Times, also part of the News International stable, on Tuesday, was a distraction exercise.

Labour MP Tom Watson told BBC News: "This is desperation from News International. They are trying to protect Rebekah Brooks [chief executive of News International], who rightly faces the ire of the nation today."

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Phone hacking: David Cameron bows to calls for public inquiries

Prime minister says he is 'appalled' by revelations about behaviour at News of the World, but BSkyB deal can go ahead

By Hélène Mulholland, Haroon Siddique


Wednesday 6 July 2011 14.43 BST

David Cameron has bowed to pressure to hold public inquiries into the "absolutely disgusting" allegations of phone hacking by journalists at News of the World, and into the original police investigation into the scandal.

The prime minister responded to the outrage provoked by the phone-hacking crisis at the Sunday tabloid after it emerged that Scotland Yard had started to contact the relatives of victims of the 7 July 2005 attacks to warn them they had also been targeted by the paper.

Pressed by the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, to conduct a full public inquiry, the prime minister said he was appalled by the revelations and agreed it was important inquiries were conducted that were "public, independent, and have public confidence".

Listen to PMQs in full Link to this audio He also signalled that News Corporation's takeover of BSkyB would be allowed to go ahead. He rejected Miliband's call for the matter to be referred to the Competition Commission, which he suggested would be illegal.

Miliband told Cameron he had made a "catastrophic error of judgment" when he hired Andy Coulson as his director of communications.

In a dramatic prime minister's question time dominated by the hacking scandal, Miliband also accused Cameron of being out of touch with public opinion on the issue of BSkyB and of a "failure of leadership" in the biggest press scandal in modern times.

Cameron told the Commons the inquiries could not be started immediately because of the major police investigation currently under way, though he conceded it "may be possible" to start some of the work earlier.

"We do need to have an inquiry, possibly inquiries, into what has happened," Cameron said. "We are no longer talking here about politicians and celebrities, we are talking about murder victims, potentially terrorist victims, having their phones hacked into.

"It is absolutely disgusting, what has taken place, and I think everyone in this house and indeed this country will be revolted by what they have heard and what they have seen on their television screens."

He said there were two "vital areas" that needed to be considered: why the original police inquiry failed to "get to the bottom of what happened", and the behaviour, practices and ethics of journalists and media organisations.

Cameron said it was important that lessons were learned from "what has become a disgraceful episode".

The Labour leader called on Cameron to appoint a senior figure, possibly a judge, to lead the inquiry, which he said should have the power to call witnesses under oath.

Miliband said the investigation should cover "the culture and practices of the industry, the nature of regulation ... and also the relationship between the police and the media".

Cameron said he did not think it would be possible to investigate the original police inquiry until the new one had concluded.

"Clearly, we can't start all that sort of inquiry immediately because you must not jeopardise the police investigation, but it may be possible to start some of that work earlier," he said.

He offered to hold talks on the matter with other party leaders, the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, and the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell.

But he resisted separate calls by Miliband for the bid by News International to take over BskyB to be referred to the Competition Commission, saying to do so would be illegal.

Miliband said the public would react "with disbelief" if the deal went ahead in the next few days when News International was the subject of a major criminal investigation.

However, Cameron said the government had followed the correct legal processes, with Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for media, culture and sport, handling the matter in a quasi-judicial role. Cameron said: "On the issue of BSkyB, what we have done here is followed absolutely to the letter, the correct legal processes. That is what the government has to do."

He added: "I note that the leader of the Labour party said yesterday that the issue of competition and plurality is a separate issue from the very important issue we are discussing today. What I would say is these processes must be followed properly, including by Ofcom, and it is Ofcom that have the duty to make a recommendation about fit and proper person. Those are the right processes. This government will behave in a proper way."

The prime minister refused to be drawn on whether Rebekah Brooks, News International's chief executive, should stand down. Confronted by claims by Miliband that he had made a "catastrophic error of judgment" by taking on Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World embroiled in the latest wave of revelations, the prime minister said he took "full responsibility" for everyone he employed and appointed to work for him.

The ramifications of the scandal continued to be felt by the News of the World through other channels as Halifax bank and Virgin Holidays cancelled adverts due to run in this Sunday's paper. Ford said on Tuesday it was suspending its advertising in the paper. Other companies, including the UK's biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, have said they are reviewing their positions amid an online campaign urging firms to withdraw their advertising.

While News International issued a statement welcoming MPs' calls for a wide-ranging public inquiry into standards in the media industry to address public concerns, the broadcasting regulator Ofcom said it was monitoring the situation "and in particular the investigations by the relevant authorities into the alleged unlawful activities".

Ofcom said: "In the light of the current public debate about phone hacking and other allegations, Ofcom confirms that it has a duty to be satisfied on an ongoing basis that the holder of a broadcasting licence is 'fit and proper'."

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Paul Stephenson, also revealed that members of his force faced investigation after it was reported on Tuesday night that News International had handed over details of payments made by the News of the World to police officers. He said the documents appeared to "include information relating to alleged inappropriate payments to a small number of [Metropolitan police] officers".

Stephenson said the matter would be investigated by the deputy commissioner Sue Akers in conjunction with the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards. He added that no senior officer had been implicated. Given that the reports relate to police payments allegedly made between 2003 and 2007, when Coulson was editor, many commentators have suggested they are an attempt to relieve the pressure on Brooks, also a former editor.

One of those put on alert that his phone may have been hacked, Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the 7 July 2005 bombings, expressed his horror at the alleged intrusion and said he wanted to meet Rupert Murdoch.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I'd really like to meet him face to face and have a very in-depth conversation with him about responsibility and the power that he has and how it should be used appropriately."

Simon Greenberg, director of corporate affairs at News International, told the Today programme that a meeting between Foulkes and Murdoch was "certainly something we would consider". Greenberg insisted that News International was being "highly co-operative" with the police.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, he said the organisation was "very close" to discovering who commissioned the alleged hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. Asked whether he was clear that the hacking was not commissioned by Brooks, who was News of the World editor at the time, he said: "We are clear."


Rupert Murdoch backs Rebekah Brooks over phone-hacking allegations

News Corp founder describes latest News of the World revelations as 'deplorable and unacceptable'

By James Robinson, Andrew Sparrow, Hélène Muholland and Haroon Sidique


Wednesday 6 July 2011 17.05 BST

Rupert Murdoch has taken the highly unusual step of issuing an official public statement backing Rebekah Brooks over the phone-hacking scandal engulfing his UK newspaper business.

The News Corporation boss described the recent allegations about phone hacking and payments to police officers by the News of the World "deplorable and unacceptable".

"I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks' leadership," the News Corp chairman and chief executive added, in a statement issued from the annual Allen & Co media business conference he is attending in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Murdoch also said he had asked Joel Klein, who heads News Corp's recently created education unit, "to provide important oversight and guidance". Viet Dinh, a non-executive director, is keeping the News Corp board informed along with Klein, he said.

Murdoch's backing came on a day of mounting pressure on Brooks and News International, with prime minister David Cameron bowing to calls for public inquiries into phone hacking by the News of the World and the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, saying the chief executive should "consider her position".

News Corp also faced criticism from MPs during an emergency debate on phone hacking in the Commons on Wednesday afternoon, with Labour's Tom Watson alleging there was "further evidence" that Brooks "knew about the unlawful tactics of News of the World as early as 2002, despite all her denials yesterday".

Watson also called for Rupert's son James Murdoch, who as deputy chief operating officer oversees the company's European and Asian businesses including News International, to be suspended while the Metropolitan police investigate "what I believe is his personal authorisation of the coverup of this scandal".

Murdoch's statement came after it emerged on Wednesday that News International will claim Brooks, the News of the World publisher's chief executive, was on holiday when a mobile phone belonging to missing teenager Milly Dowler was hacked into in 2002 when Brooks was editing the Sunday tabloid.

The Guardian understands that the company has established that Brooks, News of the World editor from May 2000 until January 2003, was on holiday in Italy when the paper ran a story that referred to a message that had been left on the teenager's phone. The article, which was about a message left by an employment agency on the murdered schoolgirl's mobile, was published on 14 April 2002.

News International also believes Brooks was away in the two weeks following the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham. It is thought that mobile phones belonging to the parents of the two girls were targeted in the days following their death.

That is likely to focus attention on Andy Coulson, who was Brooks's deputy at the time, and would normally have edited the paper in her absence.

Coulson replaced Brooks as editor in early 2003 and has always maintained that he was unaware of any phone-hacking activity by the News of the World. He resigned in January 2007 after the royal reporter, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for intercepting the voicemail messages of members of the royal household, saying he accepted responsibility for what had happened but knew nothing about it.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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The day the prime minister was forced to act on phone hacking

David Cameron and Nick Clegg at odds over inquiry pledge, amid fresh calls to delay takeover decision

By Nicholas Watt, James Robinson and Dan Sabbagh


Wednesday 6 July 2011 22.02 BST

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are wrangling over the membership and status of the inquiries that will be held into illegal phone hacking at the News of the World and wider questions about the future of media regulation.

The prime minister bowed to pressure to hold at least one inquiry but is resisting calls from Clegg for a judge to take charge.

The differences between Clegg and Cameron came as the government faced calls from across the Commons as well as from City shareholders to delay its final decision on the proposed takeover of BSkyB by News Corporation, parent company of the News of the World.

Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, gave the provisional go-ahead for the deal last Friday, subject to a final seven-day consultation over plans to hive off Sky News as a separately listed company to allay plurality fears. Hunt is due to consider thousands of pages of documents submitted during the consultation. He will then make a decision which could be delayed into the summer recess after consultations with Ofcom and the OFT.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, took the momentous step of turning against Rupert Murdoch's empire, calling for the resignation of News International's chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, and demanding the BSkyB decision be referred to the Competition Commission.

"The public will react with disbelief if next week the decision is taken to go ahead with this deal at a time when News International is subject to a major criminal investigation and we do not yet know who charges will be laid against," he said.

Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, said he would ask Ofcom to exercise its right to assess whether the directors of News Corp were "fit and proper" to take full control of BSkyB.

"Ofcom ... has a statutory obligation to consider at any time who is appropriate to hold a broadcasting licence. The message from this House must be that we want it actively to consider that obligation.

"If it comes to the view that the future owners of BSkyB are inappropriate, it should rule accordingly, which would mean that the BSkyB merger could not go ahead." Nicholas Soames, the former Tory defence minister, called for a pause in the BSkyB bid on the grounds of "serious criminality on the part of some people at News International". Soames is listened to with care because he is close to the Prince of Wales who was angered when Prince William's phone was hacked.

Several City shareholders called for Hunt to delay his final decision. Robert Talbut, chief investment officer of Royal London Asset Management said: "There are issues here that go beyond a simple financial transaction."

Another investor, speaking on the basis of anonymity said: "Hunt should hold fire because we are faced with a further concentration of media power in News Corp's hands at a time when there are allegations of malpractice within one of its major subsidiaries."

Shares in News Corp and BSkyB fell as the phone-hacking scandal put Murdoch and his bid to take control of the satellite broadcaster under scrutiny. News Corp shares fell by 5% at one stage on Wall Street, closing down 3.6% to $17.47. BSkyB shares in London fell 2.1% to 827p.

Murdoch denounced as "deplorable and unacceptable" the revelation in the Guardian earlier this week that the News of the World hacked into the telephone of Milly Dowler after she disappeared.

But he offered support for Brooks, who was NoW editor at the time of the schoolgirl's murder.

"I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks's leadership."

It was reported last night that families of members of the armed forces killed in Afghanistan and Iraq may have been targeted by a private investigator who worked for the News of the World.

The Ministry of Defence was seeking clarification from Scotland Yard as sources said families of dead servicemen were being contacted by detectives over the scandal. News International said it would be "absolutely appalled and horrified" if there was any truth in the allegations and it would be immediately contacting the MoD.

MPH Solicitors whose clients include Samantha Roberts, widow of one of the first Britons killed in Iraq in 2003 called for clarity from authorities over the claims. Solicitor Geraldine McCool said the firm had been contacted by media yesterday over the allegations surrounding high-profile military inquests in 2006 and 2007. "We are making efforts to verify this information," a statement on the firm's website said.

The chancellor, George Osborne, was also notified by the Metropolitan police that his name and home phone number appeared in notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, the private investigator and News of the World reporter who were both jailed in 2007 for phone hacking.

Cameron announced the inquiry or inquiries would be held after consulting Clegg. It is expected one inquiry will examine how phone hacking was started and tolerated, while a second will examine the future of media regulation.

But there were differences with Clegg over whether a judge would be involved. A Downing Street source said: "We do not have to have a judge-led inquiry to make it effective."

Clegg insisted a judge would have to be involved in at least one inquiry. In an email to Lib Dem members, he said: "The inquiries must be independent, open, able to access all information and call witnesses, and that crucially the inquiry dealing with legal issues (eg relationship between police and media) must be presided over by a judge."

One Lib Dem source said: "There is no point in having an enquiry if it does not have teeth. We do not want a talking shop. Unless you have a judge you can't deal with the crunchy bit."

The scale of the anger at News International across the Commons was highlighted when Tom Watson, a former Labour minister, accused it of entering the "criminal underworld" by "paying people to interfere with police officers and were doing so on behalf of known criminals".

He said James Murdoch, the tycoon's son, had "personally, without board approval, authorised money to be paid by his company to silence people who had been hacked and to cover up criminal behaviour within his organisation".

John Whittingdale, the Tory chairman of the Commons culture select committee, named a series of News International executives who had told his committee that only one reporter was responsible for phone hacking while police possessed evidence of widespread illegality.

News International is planning to relieve the pressure on Brooks, by claiming she was on holiday when a mobile phone belonging to Dowler was hacked into.

The Guardian understands that the company has established that Brooks, News of the World editor from May 2000 until January 2003, was on holiday in Italy when the paper ran a story which referred to a message that had been left on the teenager's phone.

That is likely to focus attention on Andy Coulson, who was Brooks's deputy at the time, and would normally have edited the paper in her absence.

Procter & Gamble, Britain's biggest advertiser, plus O2, Vauxhall, Butlins and Virgin Holidays, joined Ford in pulling ads from this weekend's News of the World. P&G spent almost £1.5m in the News of the World in the last year.


News of the World surveillance of detective: what Rebekah Brooks knew

Brooks summoned to meeting with Scotland Yard to be told her journalists had spied on behalf of murder suspects

By Nick Davies


Wednesday 6 July 2011 19.47 BST

As editor of the News of the World Rebekah Brooks was confronted with evidence that her paper's resources had been used on behalf of two murder suspects to spy on the senior detective who was investigating their alleged crime.

Brooks was summoned to a meeting at Scotland Yard where she was told that one of her most senior journalists, Alex Marunchak, had apparently agreed to use photographers and vans leased to the paper to run surveillance on behalf of Jonathan Rees and Sid Fillery, two private investigators who were suspected of murdering their former partner, Daniel Morgan. The Yard saw this as a possible attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Brooks was also told of evidence that Marunchak had a corrupt relationship with Rees, who had been earning up to £150,000 a year selling confidential data to the News of the World. Police told her that a former employee of Rees had given them a statement alleging that some of these payments were diverted to Marunchak, who had been able to pay off his credit card and pay his child's private school fees.

A Guardian investigation suggests that surveillance of Detective Chief Superintendent David Cook involved the News of the World physically following him and his young children, "blagging" his personal details from police databases, attempting to access his voicemail and that of his wife, and possibly sending a "Trojan horse" email in an attempt to steal information from his computer.

The targeting of Cook began following his appearance on BBC Crimewatch on 26 June 2002, when he appealed for information to solve the murder of Morgan, who had been found dead in south London 15 years earlier. Rees and Fillery were among the suspects. The following day, Cook was warned by the Yard that they had picked up intelligence that Fillery had been in touch with Marunchak and that Marunchak agreed to "sort Cook out".

A few days later, Cook was contacted by Surrey police, where he had worked as a senior detective from 1996 to 2001, and was told that somebody claiming to work for the Inland Revenue had contacted their finance department, asking for Cook's home address so that they could send him a cheque with a tax refund. The finance department had been suspicious and refused to give out the information.

It is now known that at that time, the News of the World's investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, succeeded in obtaining Cook's home address, his internal payroll number at the Metropolitan police, his date of birth and figures for the amount that he and his wife were paying for their mortgage. All of this appears to have been blagged by Mulcaire from confidential databases, apparently including the Met's own records.

Mulcaire obtained the mobile phone number for Cook's wife and the password she used for her mobile phone account.

Paperwork in the possession of the Yard's Operation Weeting is believed to show that Mulcaire did this on the instructions of Greg Miskiw, the paper's assistant editor and a close friend of Marunchak.

About a week later, a van was seen parked outside Cook's home. The following day, two vans were seen there. Both of them attempted to follow Cook as he took his two-year-old son to nursery. Cook alerted Scotland Yard, who sent a uniformed officer to stop one of the vans on the grounds that its rear brake light was broken. The driver proved to be a photojournalist working for the News of the World. Both vans were leased to the paper. During the same week, there were signs of an attempt to open letters which had been left in Cook's external postbox.

Scotland Yard chose not to mount a formal inquiry. Instead a senior press officer contacted Brooks to ask for an explanation. She is understood to have told them they were investigating a report that Cook was having an affair with another officer, Jacqui Hames, the presenter of BBC Crimewatch. Yard sources say they rejected this explanation, because Cook had been married to Hames for some years; the couple had two children, then aged two and five; and they had previously appeared together as a married couple in published stories."The story was complete rubbish," according to one source.

For four months, the Yard took no action, raising questions about whether they were willing to pursue what appeared to be an attempt to interfere with a murder inquiry. However, in November 2002, at a press social event at Scotland Yard, Brooks was asked to come into a side room for a meeting. She was confronted by Cook, his boss, Commander Andre Baker, and Dick Fedorcio, the head of media relations. According to a Yard source, Cook described the surveillance on his home and the apparent involvement of Marunchak, and evidence of Marunchak's suspect financial relationship with Rees. Brooks is said to have defended Marunchak on the grounds that he did his job well.

Scotland Yard took no further action, apparently reflecting the desire of Fedorcio, who has had a close working relationship with Brooks, to avoid unnecessary friction with the News of the World. In March Marunchak was named by BBC Panorama as the News of the World executive who hired a specialist to plant a Trojan on the computer of a former British intelligence officer, Ian Hurst.

Rees and Fillery were eventually arrested and charged in relation to the murder of Morgan. Charges against both men were later dropped, although Rees was convicted of plotting to plant cocaine on a woman so that her ex-husband would get custody of their children, and Fillery was convicted of possessing indecent images of children.

Cook and his wife are believed to be preparing a legal action against the News of the World, Marunchak, Miskiw and Mulcaire. Operation Weeting is also understood to be investigating.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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Phone hacking:

Murdoch empire in crisis

Families of war dead added to reported hacking victims as Prime Minister bows to pressure for public inquiry

By Martin Hickman and Cahal Milmo

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Rupert Murdoch's planned takeover of Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster was cast into doubt last night as his newspaper empire faced fresh allegations that it hacked the families of dead British servicemen and a dozen blue-chip companies withdrew advertising from its best-selling paper.

In another damaging day for Mr Murdoch in the deepening phone-hacking scandal, the communications regulator Ofcom revealed that it was "closely monitoring" allegations of widespread criminality at News International and said it had a duty to be satisfied that Mr Murdoch and his top executives were "fit and proper persons" to control BSkyB.

Amid continuing claims that the News of the World had accessed the voicemails of child murder victims, Mr Murdoch's embattled top-selling British title last night faced grave new claims that relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been victims of voicemail eavesdropping.

A firm of solicitors representing the families of men killed in several high-profile cases in Iraq said they were contacted by Scotland Yard yesterday to say evidence had been found that they may have been targeted by the NOTW's private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.

In a statement, MPH Solicitors said: "We have been contacted this morning in connection with a possible phone-hacking on our clients... arising out of high profile military inquests in 2006/2007."

In a sign of the rapidly-developing nature of the crisis engulfing News International, the Ministry of Defence said last night it was seeking clarification from the Yard of the names of those whose details were found on Mulcaire's records.

Among the families that could be affected are those of Sergeant Steven Roberts, whose lack of body armour contributed to his death, Lance Corporal Matty Hull who was killed by friendly fire, and the personel who died in the crash of a US Sea Knight aircraft in Kuwait.

Geraldine McCool, the MPH solicitor who represented who represented the relatives of both men, and whose phone may also have been accessed, said she was not aware of any articles which had given rise to suspicion of hacking but called for the full extent the alleged "diabolical practice" to be made clear.

News International reacted to the fresh allegations last night by saying its support for the armed services was "impeccable" and it would be "absolutely appalled and horrified" if the claims were true.

The Yard declined to comment on its ongoing investigation but in a day of rapidly-changing developments, it became clear its inquiry into the phone hacking scandal has rapidly accelerated. It is expected that as many as five NOTW journalists and executives, on top of the three previously detained, are expected to be arrested in the coming days.

In an emergency debate in the House of Commons, the former Labour minister Tom Watson accused James Murdoch, the chairman's son and heir, of perverting the course of justice by engaging in a cover-up and called for him to be suspended from the News Corp board.

Hours after the Labour MP Chris Bryant accused the News of the World of hacking phones linked to the murdered Essex schoolgirl Danielle Jones, the 80-year-old proprietor gave his personal backing to the paper's former editor and News International's current chief executive, Rebekah Brooks.

In a statement, Mr Murdoch called claims of hacking and payments to police officers "deplorable and unacceptable". He said the company "must fully and proactively co-operate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks' leadership".

As fallout from the dispute over the NOTW's hacking of the phone of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler crossed the Atlantic, Mr Murdoch's News Corp shares tanked in New York, falling by nearly 5 per cent at one stage, wiping £180m from the tycoon's stake. By close of trading, he had lost £120m in the day.

MPs demanded the Coalition Government pause its approval for News Corp's bid for full control of BSkyB.

Mr Watson told the Commons: "James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks now have to accept their culpability and they will have to face the full force of the law... They are not fit and proper persons to control any part of the media in this country."

Although Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, is likely to shrug off the demands and give final approval to the deal tomorrow, the takeover may not go ahead. The BBC's business editor, Robert Peston said BSkyB's independent directors would probably demand a higher price because of the risk of Ofcom intervening.

On his BBC blog, Peston wrote: "Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation will almost certainly have to delay their takeover of BSkyB – at least until it is apparent that the News of the World and News International have been cleaned up."

While News Corp's reported comments may have been intended to take the sting out of the Government's approval of the deal, they may also have been an attempt to take some of the pressure off Ms Brooks. Amid public outrage, 15 high-profile companies – including Lloyds, Virgin, Vauxhall and the Co-op – pulled their advertising from this Sunday's NOTW. The Co-op said the allegations the company had hacked the phones of crime victims had been "met with revulsion" by its members.

David Cameron, a close friend of Ms Brooks, suggested the Government would hold a public inquiry into the scandal. He said: "We do need to have an inquiry, possibly inquiries, into what has happened." Under pressure from Ed Miliband, the Prime Minister said inquiries must be "public, independent, and have public confidence".

Police are investigating new evidence that, under the editorship of Andy Coulson, Mr Cameron's former communications director, the NOTW bribed police officers for information.

MPs voice their anger

'Let us be clear. There will be an inquiry, perhaps inquiries, into events. It is no longer just celebrities and politicians, but murder victims. The whole country is appalled.'

David Cameron

'Editorial negligence is tantamount to complicity. If Brooks has a single shred of decency, she would resign ... My hope is that people who have committed criminality at the NOTW end up going to prison.'

Chris Bryant

'People are rightly angry. Why were these allegations not investigated sufficiently at an earlier stage?'

Yvette Cooper

'News International has entered the criminal underworld... James Murdoch should be suspended from office while the police now investigate what I believe was his personal authorisation to plan a cover-up of this scandal.'

Tom Watson

'Were News International, with their record of wrongdoing they have admitted so far, to apply to run a minicab firm they would not receive a licence.'

Frank Dobson

'The biggest press scandal in modern times, getting worse by the day ... This was not the actions of some rogue reporter: Rebekah Brooks should take responsibility and resign.'

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In 1969 Rupert Murdoch purchased The Sun newspaper in 1969. He turned it into a trashy tabloid and it was not long before it had become the best-selling daily newspaper in Britain. Later that year he purchased the News of the World, Britain’s largest selling newspaper.

The two newspapers advocated extreme right-wing policies over the next ten years and played an important role in the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. He continued to support Thatcher in her decision to create mass unemployment by reducing spending on the public sector. This policy also undermined the power of the trade-unions. This enabled the Tories to pass anti-trade union legislation that helped Murdoch win his fight with the print unions.

In 1981 Murdoch purchased The Times and the Sunday Times. He also created News Corporation that controlled all his media interests. This includes film and television companies such as Sky and Fox and a large number of newspapers and magazines in the United States and various other countries. It has been claimed that he is the most important political influence in the western world.

In the late 1990s it became clear that the British public had turned against the right-wing Tory government. In the 1997 general election, the Murdoch press supported the Labour Party. This would have come as no surprise to those that had watched Murdoch’s behaviour in Australia. He had supported their Labour Party in the past. However, when they gained power with his support, they turned into a right-wing authoritarian government.

The same thing happened in Britain. After he won the 1997 election, Tony Blair abandoned his left-wing agenda and showed himself to be a Thatcherite. According to Lance Price, who worked for the Labour government, Blair would always consult Murdoch before introducing any new policy.

Murdoch was also a great supporter of the illegal invasion of Iraq. Every one of his 179 newspapers also supported this policy. He claimed at the time that the invasion would result in lower oil prices and an increase in stock market shares. His newspapers also played an important role in persuading the public that Iraq had WMD.

When Blair became unpopular with the British public he joined the plot to get Gordon Brown made the new prime minister without an election. Brown had been under the control of Murdoch for many years. However, after six months it became clear that Brown would lose the next election and so Murdoch’s newspaper’s began to support David Cameron.

Murdoch seemed untouchable. All leading politicians were too frightened to take him on. They knew he would use the whole of his media empire against them if they did that. Then something happened yesterday that might give us the opportunity to remove this terrible influence on British life.

The story begins in 2006 when members of the royal household complained that they believed that their mobile phones had been hacked into. The anti-terror police investigated the case as they feared it might be connected to a Muslim terrorist group. A few months later, Clive Goodman, a journalist working for the News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective, were arrested. Mulcaire confessed to hacking into the royal family’s mobile phones to listen to their voice-mail and that he had been paid to do this by Goodman.

In January 2007, Goodman was sentenced to four months in prison and Mulcaire got six months. Andy Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World. He claimed that he knew nothing about this phone hacking. Anyone with any experience of newspapers knew that Coulson was lying. No editor would ever publish a potential libellous story without knowing the source of the story. Goodman was portrayed as a rogue reporter.

Les Hinton, the chairman of News International, appeared before a parliamentary committee and told MPs he had carried out a full investigation into the case and he was convinced that Goodman had been acting alone. The Press Complaints Commission also claimed they could find no evidence that Coulson knew anything about these illegal activities. Although he was strangely not interviewed by the PCC.

On July 9, 2007, David Cameron appointed Andy Coulson as Conservative Party Director of Communications on a salary of £450,000 a year. Why? Maybe because he is the man who knows all the secrets of the politicians.

The police supported this view that Coulson did not know anything by not bringing anymore prosecutions against News of the World reporters. However, we now know that the police did have a great deal of information about large-scale phone-hacking by Murdoch’s journalists. For example, Glenn Mulcaire had been paid £2,000 a month as a retainer fee for News Corporation. Evidence suggests he had been working for 37 different journalists. Mulcaire’s work had resulted in several scoops including those against the socialist politician, Tommy Sheridan, David Beckham (Rebecca Loos) and Sven-Goran Eriksson (Faria Alam).

Why did the police not follow up cases against these 37 journalists? How much did Murdoch pay to the police to stop these prosecutions?

The problem is that some policemen earn extra money by selling information to the press and other interested parties. One of them tipped off Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballer’s Association, that his phone had been hacked by Glenn Mulcaire. He therefore decided to sue News Corporation. In September, 2007, News Corporation paid Taylor and two of his football contacts, over a £1 million in a case that was held in secret. The people involved promised not to reveal details of the case. The High Court then joined in the conspiracy by sealing the evidence obtained from the police.

Someone, we don’t know who, tipped off Nick Davies, a reporter, about what had happened and the story appeared in yesterday’s Guardian. Rupert Murdoch immediately announced he knew nothing about this £1 million payout. This surely can be proved to be a lie.

The Guardian also provided a list of some of the people whose phones were hacked by Mulcaire. This included several cabinet ministers, including John Prescott, the former deputy prime-minister. This obviously has implications for national security. However, Prescott insists he was never told by the police that attempts had been made to hack his phone.

The most amazing response was from the police. Assistant Commissioner John Yates, quickly issued a statement that the police were unwilling to reopen the investigation into the case. Yates was of course the man who led the investigation into the corruption of Tony Blair and decided that he should not be prosecuted for any offences. I wonder how much money he was paid to reach this conclusion? How much was he paid for yesterday’s statement.

Other than the Guardian and the BBC, the rest of the media are doing what they can to ignore this story. One former editor of the Sun claimed yesterday that the whole story is a “socialist conspiracy”. The reason that even non-Murdoch papers are ignoring the story, is that they have also relied on illegal phone-hacking to get their stories and are worried where all this will lead. How many journalists will end up in prison for these offences? That is why it is important that we use the internet to expose this story.

I thought that it might be worth re-posting the article I wrote on 10th July 2009. Let us hope I was right when I said: "Murdoch seemed untouchable. All leading politicians were too frightened to take him on. They knew he would use the whole of his media empire against them if they did that. Then something happened yesterday that might give us the opportunity to remove this terrible influence on British life."

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BBC Website:

News International has announced that it is closing the News of the World - Sunday 10 July 2011 will be it's last ever edition.

James Murdoch, chairman of News International made the following statement to staff:

"I have important things to say about the News of the World and the steps we are taking to address the very serious problems that have occurred.

"It is only right that you as colleagues at News International are first to hear what "I have to say and that you hear it directly from me. So thank you very much for coming here and listening.

"You do not need to be told that The News of the World is 168 years old. That it is read by more people than any other English language newspaper. That it has enjoyed support from Britain's largest advertisers. And that it has a proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation.

"When I tell people why I am proud to be part of News Corporation, I say that our commitment to journalism and a free press is one of the things that sets us apart. "Your work is a credit to this.

"The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company.

"The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.

"In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. "But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.

"Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.

"As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.

This was not the only fault.

"The paper made statements to Parliament without being in the full possession of the facts. This was wrong.

"The Company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret.

"Currently, there are two major and ongoing police investigations. We are cooperating fully and actively with both.

"You know that it was News International who voluntarily brought evidence that led to opening Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden. This full cooperation will continue until the Police's work is done.

"We have also admitted liability in civil cases. Already, we have settled a number of prominent cases and set up a Compensation Scheme, with cases to be adjudicated by former High Court judge Sir Charles Gray.

"Apologising and making amends is the right thing to do. Inside the Company, we set up a Management and Standards Committee that is working on these issues and that has hired Olswang to examine past failings and recommend systems and practices that over time should become standards for the industry.

"We have committed to publishing Olswang's terms of reference and eventual recommendations in a way that is open and transparent.

We have welcomed broad public inquiries into press standards and police practices and will cooperate with them fully.

"So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the Company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.

"Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.

"This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World. Colin Myler will edit the final edition of the paper.

"In addition, I have decided that all of the News of the World's revenue this weekend will go to good causes.

"While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organisations - many of whom are long-term friends and partners - that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity.

"We will run no commercial advertisements this weekend. Any advertising space in this last edition will be donated to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers.

"These are strong measures. They are made humbly and out of respect. I am convinced they are the right thing to do.

"Many of you, if not the vast majority of you, are either new to the Company or have had no connection to the News of the World during the years when egregious behaviour occurred

"I can understand how unfair these decisions may feel. Particularly, for colleagues who will leave the Company. Of course, we will communicate next steps in detail and begin appropriate consultations.

"You may see these changes as a price loyal staff at the News of the World are paying for the transgressions of others.

"So please hear me when I say that your good work is a credit to journalism. I do not want the legitimacy of what you do to be compromised by acts of others.

"I want all journalism at News International to be beyond reproach. I insist that this organisation lives up to the standard of behaviour we expect of others. And, finally, I want you all to know that it is critical that the integrity of every journalist who has played fairly is restored."

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