BBC News has apologised to the News of the World for not putting to it the allegation that there has been phone-hacking at the paper in the last 12 months.
The BBC led Radio 4’s Today programme and other news bulletins this morning with reports that court documents relating to a privacy case suggested there had been mobile phone voicemail hacking by the News of the World in the last year.
The documents relate to designer Kelly Hoppen, who is suing the News of the World for breach of privacy over alleged hacking along with her step-daughter, the actress Sienna Miller. Previous News of the World phone-hack allegations have dated from before the 2007 jailing of Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire.
The BBC has written to the News of the World saying: “While we stand by the basic story it is clear that we should have contacted your organisation this morning to put directly the allegation that there may have been phone hacking within the past twelve months.”
Press Gazette understands that BBC head of news programmes Stephen Mitchell said in the letter: “Our coverage throughout reflected the previously stated position of News of the World, namely that the hacking ended with Clive Goodman.
“Our coverage also made clear that News of the World is defending the legal action involving Kelly Hoppen. We carried your press office statement after it arrived and have been carrying the statement on all outlets throughout the morning.
“Nevertheless, everyone involved is clear that the main points of the story should have been put to the News of the World before the story was broadcast and I apologise on behalf of BBC News for our failure to do that.”
In a statement put out after the BBC story broke, the News of the World said: “We have carried out an extensive investigation led by a team of independent forensic specialists and we have found no evidence whatsoever to support this allegation.
“The civil litigation is ongoing, as is the internal investigation and until both are concluded it would be inappropriate to comment further.
“However we are disappointed the BBC chose to lead with this misleading report without giving the News of the World an opportunity to respond.”