Phone Hacking Investigation May Widen To The Sun, Other British Tabloids
The now-shuttered News of the World has been at the center of New Corp.'s phone hacking scandal, but new developments indicate that the rest of Fleet Street and Murdoch's other papers may not be far behind.
The British police are looking into a 2006 report, which named 31 publications, including the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail, that used a private investigator who illegally obtained information by pretending he was someone else over the phone. The Daily Mail has repeatedly called the furor over the scandal overblown.
This new line of inquiry follows Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement of a panel to investigate the culture and practices of British newsrooms on Wednesday. He called it naive to think that phone hacking was limited to Murdoch-owned newspapers, and declared that broadcasters and social media would also be examined.
The wide scope of the investigation was announced the same day that Hugh Grant and former girlfriend Jemima Khan won a court order for police evidence that may show private investigator Glenn Mulcaire hacked their voice mailboxes for the News of the World and what their attorneys said were "other [unnamed] newspapers." As the New York Times noted, the court filings mark the first accusation that Mulcaire, who was supposed to be working solely for the News of the World, may have been spying for other papers on the side.
The hearing did not name the other papers suspected of intercepting Grant and Khan's voice messages. But the Sun, another Murdoch-owned newspaper actor, has also been accused of phone hacking. Jude Law sued the Sun for hacking last month, claiming that four articles from 2005 and 2006 were generated from his voice messages.
Following the closure of News of the World, Murdoch's other titles have also become public targets. Members of the hacking group Lulzsec claim to have accessed 4GB of emails from the Sun (and the Royal Family) early Thursday morning, and has threatened to release them to the public.
The group also claims to have broken into the News International email database. Lulzsec members tweeted the email accounts and passwords of News of the World staffers, including Rebekah Brooks. The claims follow an earlier hack of the Sun's website on Tuesday night, when members of Lulzsec and the hacking group Anonymous planted a faked story announcing Rupert Murdoch's death.
British journalists at other tabloids have indicated that phone hacking is widespread in other British newsrooms. Former journalists at the People, which competed with the News of the World, told the New York Times that "they regularly witnessed hacking in that newsroom in the late 1990s to early 2000." Grant secretly recorded a conversation with former News of the World editor Paul McMullan, who he said told him, “it was all the tabloids.” A former reporter for the Sunday Mirror, another Sunday newspaper rival, also described the extensive use of private detectives.