Saturday, September 04, 2010

New Allegations in Phone Hacking Scandal at Murdoch's "News of the World"

Guardian updates on this story will be posted at News of the World phone-hacking scandal

"The piece in the New York Times quoted a former News of the World reporter, Sean Hoare, who said Andy Coulson, the former editor [of News of the World], was aware of the practice [of illegal phone hacking]. Coulson is now [Prime Minister] David Cameron's director of communications.

Hoare's statement is expected to be of interest to Scotland Yard. But the fact he was sacked because of drink and drug problems means his credibility in front of a jury could be fatally undermined, even if he was prepared to confess his own involvement in criminal activity.

An official said: 'Unless someone was involved, that admitted their involvement and there was corroboration, there is no chance of prosecution.'"--- "Met asked to reveal what it knew about NoW hacking of officers' phones" (Guardian, 9-2-10)

The New York Times (9-1-10) has published a lengthy article with new allegations in the case of the News of the World Phone Hacking Affair.

The criminal phone-hacking scandal involves employees at a Rupert Murdoch-owned British publication called News of the World.

The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the world's third-largest media conglomerate, News Corporation [see website]. He describes himself as a Libertarian.

According to the Wikipedia entry on the NoW hacking affair:

In April 2010 it emerged that "the officer in charge of the [Scotland Yard] inquiry, assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, subsequently left the police to work for News International as a columnist."[1]

The Wikipedia entry on Hayman notes:

Hayman held the rank of Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations at London's Metropolitan Police, the highest ranking officer responsible for counter-terrorism in the United Kingdom.

Wired (9-2-10) explains:

Scotland Yard is being accused of violating the rights of victims by failing to inform them earlier that they were targeted and of purposely narrowing the investigation to a single reporter and private investigator in order to preserve a special information-sharing relationship law enforcement agents had with the tabloid. The investigation focused only on Clive Goodman, a veteran reporter who covered the royal family, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who worked for the tabloid.

The British Guardian (9-2-10), which has been covering this story since 2005 [see their page called News of the World phone-hacking scandal], comments on the NYT article and also provides a timeline.

The British Guardian (9-2-10) reports:

The government tonight came under pressure to set up a judicial inquiry into the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World after the paper confirmed that it has suspended a journalist while it investigates new allegations of the unlawful interception of voicemail.

The prime minister's media adviser, Andy Coulson, has denied a report in the New York Times which claimed he freely discussed the use of unlawful news-gathering techniques when he was editing the paper and "actively encouraged" a named reporter to engage in illegal interception of voicemail messages. Coulson has always denied knowing of any illegal activity by his journalists.

Scotland Yard, too, found itself in the firing line after the New York Times quoted unnamed detectives alleging they had cut short their investigation because of their close relationship with the News of the World. A group of four public figures, including former deputy prime minister John Prescott, is poised to sue police over a failure to warn them they had been targeted by the private investigator at the centre of the scandal, Glenn Mulcaire.

The Guardian has learned that the Metropolitan police commissioner at the time of the original investigation, Sir Ian Blair, was among those whose names were found in material seized from Mulcaire, raising questions about whether officers who were directly involved in the investigation had discovered that they, too, had been targets of the newspaper. It is understood Blair was assured at the time that his phone had not been hacked.

The former Labour minister Tom Watson today called on the government to set up an inquiry into the relationship between Scotland Yard and Rupert Murdoch's News Group, which publishes the News of the World. In a letter which was addressed to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, in the absence of the prime minister, who is on paternity leave, Watson wrote: "The testimony given to the New York Times is that the police did not share all the relevant information with the Crown Prosecution Service, and that, if they had done, the CPS would have reached a different conclusion. These are clear grounds for a judicial inquiry. [See the full text and also the NYT article.]

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