Tag Archives: glenn mulcaire

Leveson inquiry releases witness statements

Written witness statements submitted as part of the Leveson inquiry have been released.

Submissions from those who gave evidence to the hearing yesterday (Monday 21 November) are now on the Leveson inquiry website.

Journalism.co.uk is providing full coverage of the Leveson inquiry. News and reaction from the last 24 hours:

Dowler family ‘afraid to open front door’

Sally and Bob Dowler also tell the inquiry of their anger after being photographed retracing daughter Milly’s steps after she went missing

Glenn Mulcaire denies deleting Milly Dowler’s messages

Private investigator at the centre of the hacking scandal denies that he was responsible for deleting voicemail messages on the teenager’s phone while she was missing

Columnist ‘amazed by detail’ in Mulcaire’s notes

Joan Smith tells inquiry that investigator Glenn Mulcaire was an ‘obsessive notetaker’ who recorded information about her whereabouts and private phone conversations

Hugh Grant claims evidence links Mail to hacking

Actor tells Leveson inquiry that story published by Mail on Sunday could only have been obtained by phone hacking, a claim disputed by counsel QC Robert Jay

Mail titles hit back at Grant over ‘mendacious smears’

Mail on Sunday denies claims by actor Hugh Grant that it hacked his phone in 2007, calling his allegations ‘mendacious smears driven by a hatred of the media’

Hacking victims suspected ‘continuous’ intrusion, says lawyer

Graham Shear told the inquiry clients would change their mobile telephone numbers ‘two or three times a year’ to try and keep information private

 

Independent: News International ‘on course to pay any damages against Glenn Mulcaire’

The Independent reports today that News International could still be obliged to pay any damages awarded against private investigator Glenn Mulcaire to alleged victims in civil phone hacking cases.

According to the Independent it has obtained a previously protected High Court document which shows that News International “has not cut its financial ties” with Mulcaire, despite an announcement by the media company that it would stop paying his legal fees.

Mulcaire lodged a lawsuit against News International last month over the company’s decision to stop paying his fees in a number of ongoing cases in which he is a defendant.

The claim document, lodged in the Chancery Division of the High Court, details the close-knit legal relationship that existed between Mr Mulcaire’s legal team and the Murdoch UK media company.

… But it goes on to state that the letter “did not to purport to withdraw the indemnity in respect of damages” – meaning that a previously unacknowledged undertaking by News International to pay any cash settlements against Mr Mulcaire remains in place.

But News International has responded to say there was “no agreement whatsoever”.

News International announced in July that it would stop paying Mulcaire’s fees, after News International chairman James Murdoch told the culture, media and sport select committee he had been “surprised and shocked” to find out “certain legal fees were paid for”.

Guardian: Police have more than 100 phone-hacking recordings

It has been claimed in court that the Metropolitan police have more than 100 recordings understood to have been made by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, the Guardian reported today.

The Guardian’s article states that lawyers representing public figures suing News of the World publisher, News Group Newspapers, claim that “a substantial number of the tapes and MiniDiscs seized by Scotland Yard five years ago are likely to contain voicemail messages”.

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 [sic] to his arrest and imprisonment. That material also includes 11,000 pages of detailed notes which are likely to list the people Mulcaire targeted.

The Guardian said Mr Justice Vos is expected to decide whether to grant this order later today or Tuesday.

Related content:
Norman Fowler calls for government inquiry into phone hacking

Phone hacking: News of the World apologises to Sienna Miller in court

Journalist wins bid to challenge Met on phone hacking despite ‘threadbare’ claim

MediaGuardian: News of the World’s phone-hacking defence unraveling

Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, has said that the paper’s assistant editor commissioned him to intercept voicemail messages, MediaGuardian reports.

Mulcaire’s claim leaves the newpaper’s ‘rogue reporter’ defence, which lays the blame for the practice solely at the feet of royal reporter Clive Goodman, in tatters.

Accortding to the MediaGuardian report, Mulcaire submitted a statement to the high court yesterday confirming that Ian Edmondson, the paper’s assistant editor (news), asked him to hack into voicemail messages left on a mobile phone belonging to Sky Andrew, a football agent who is suing the paper for breach of privacy.

Edmondson was suspended by the New of the World last week after what the paper called a “serious allegation” of phone-hacking that emerged during a civil case brought by actress Sienna Miller.

Full story on MediaGuardian at this link.

Media Guardian: NOTW ordered to hand over phone hacking evidence to Max Clifford

A high court judge yesterday ordered the News of the World to hand over secret evidence to Max Clifford, the celebrity publicist who claims his phone messages were intercepted by reporters at the title.

Under the ruling the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire has been instructed to disclose the names of everyone who instructed him to target Clifford.

Full story at this link…

More on the phone hacking allegations against the News of the World at this link.

Comment: Two outstanding questions over phone hacking

Despite a gentle Press Complaints Commission (PCC) report and News International’s attempts to play the affair down, the Guardian’s phone hacking exposé just won’t go away.

This weekend, it was back under the spotlight with Lady Buscombe, the body’s chair, in her second public interview since taking up the reins, defending the fact the PCC found no new evidence of phone hacking at News International since its 2007 inquiry.

“Alan [Rusbridger] has damned our report because he doesn’t like the result,” Buscombe told the Independent. “Because we haven’t produced this evidence which nobody else has managed to procure, including the police.”

She said she won’t resign, despite solicitor Mark Lewis’ request that she should following her public citation of police lawyers’ claims which contradicted Lewis’ parliamentary evidence.

Buscombe claimed in the interview that the PCC received no help from The Guardian. “Those who say there is more to the story than meets the eye have never helped us produce the evidence.”

The Independent took up one very important question: ‘why did the PCC not question those accused of the hacking, such as private investigator Glenn Mulcaire?’

“We didn’t ask Mulcaire because we were absolutely clear we were not going to go down routes where it was fallow ground. The remit of the PCC is set by PressBof [the Press Board of Finance], and we have already stretched our remit through this whole process,” answered Buscombe.

Writing on his blog yesterday, Roy Greenslade found this unsatisfactory:

“Fallow ground? In truth, it is ground that has never been properly tilled, and the PCC passed up the chance to put it to the plough. As for the stretching of the remit, that’s disingenuous nonsense.

“The remit of the PCC is to ensure that editors and journalists obey the code of practice. Nick Davies produced evidence that strongly suggested that the News of the World had breached the code.

“What the PCC stretched was our credulity by claiming that it had held an inquiry into those allegations. An exchange of letters with an editor who was not even on the paper at the time of the (alleged) code breaches is not an inquiry.”

Here are, in my view, two other important questions that should be raised by any further inquiry into the Guardian’s reports / phone hacking evidence:

  • What’s the truth about the reporter behind the ‘Neville’ email?

Private Eye claims that the ‘junior’ reporter, who penned the ‘Neville’ email [background here], a crucial part of the evidence, held two by-lined identities before he went off on his round-the-world-trip; if true, it raises questions about the evidence given to the Parliamentary select committee (see Private Eye No 1249, page 7).

Nick Davies, the Guardian reporter behind the revelations, believes the PCC was ‘dishonest’ in its handling of the report. “It’s completely clear that all of our allegations about phone-hacking referred to the activities of Glenn Mulcaire, who was sacked by the News of the World in January 2007; and occurred under the editorship of Andy Coulson, who resigned in January 2007.”

The allegations that confidential databases had been ‘blagged’ referred to an even earlier time, Davies told Journalism.co.uk. He also defended the Guardian against the PCC’s allegation that there were a lack of dates in the July 2009 articles, leading to misinterpretation in some ‘quarters’:

“There is no lack of clarity about the timing at all,” claimed Davies. “But the PCC – desperately looking for more whitewash to slap all over the scandal – pretend that our story concerned the period after the PCC’s first report, published in May 2007, and on that completely fictional basis, they complain that we have no evidence. Of course we have no evidence about what happened after May 2007 – it’s not a subject we’ve even attempted to address. I’m afraid it doesn’t surprise me that the PCC won’t expose the newspapers who fund it. What is surprising is that they have covered up in such a stupid way. I believe that as events unfold, this deeply misleading report of theirs may prove to be a fatal blow to their surviving credibility.”

As I’ve said before, the outcomes of the House of Commons select committee inquiry, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) PCC report inquiry, and the PCC’s own review will be interesting to see – I hope we get some answers to these questions. Any more to add?

Tapping/hacking/blagging – the terminology

Media reports refer to both ‘phone tapping’ and ‘phone hacking’ when discussing the Guardian’s investigation into the use of private investigators by News International journalists.

But what exactly were the PI activities alleged to have taken place at the request of journalists?

Phone hacking. This is the term the Guardian uses in its reports, which includes a number of alleged activities. It reported: “Hacking into messages on mobile phones is covered by the same law which now regulates phone tapping and other forms of covert information-gathering, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, known as RIPA.” There is no public interest defence for breaking this law. Activities alleged by the Guardian include:

  • Hacking into mobile phone voicemail accounts, the crime NOTW journalist Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted for in 2007.
  • Illegal hacking ‘into the mobile phone messages of numerous public ­figures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills’.

Guardian tech editor Charles Arthur describes how, in further detail at this link, voicemail hacking can be done very simply – via the four digit pin code.

  • However, new methods could now be in use by PIs (no specific allegations made). Arthur quotes a senior security analyst at McAfee: ‘a number of products [are] out there which claim that they will let you listen to someone’s mobile conversations, forward their SMSs and tell you the numbers they have dialled’.
  • In addition, Arthur reports, ‘it might be feasible to clone the connection between a Bluetooth headset and phone so an eavesdropper could connect to the phone while its owner was briefly out of earshot. A hacker could get numbers and contact information’.

Phone tapping. Assistant commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, John Yates, in his statement yesterday, referred to the Mulcaire and Goodman case. He said:

  • “Our inquiries found that these two men had the ability to illegally intercept mobile phone voice mails, commonly known as phone tapping.”

However, the term ‘tapping’ can also indicate other kinds of interception of communications systems e.g wire tapping / obtaining post. In this BBC Q&A from 2006 it is stated that there are three ways a mobile phone can be tapped:

“This can be done either at the handset, or during the conversation – which is illegal and very expensive – or through the mobile phone company which connects the device.”

Blagging. The Guardian reports that this could include obtaining access to confidential databases, such as telephone accounts, bank records and information held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, which is covered by a different law, the 1998 Data Protection Act: “Section 55 makes it an offence to gain unauthorised access to such data, punishable by a fine. However, unlike RIPA, this offence carries a public interest defence.”

The Guardian reports on a series of ‘dark arts’ methods used by PIs, including:

  • Obtaining ex-directory landlines, tax records, social security files, bank statements, mobile numbers, people’s addresses or people’s phone bills and medical records.
  • Conning BT, the DVLA, mobile phone companies and other organisations into handing over private details.