The claim was made in an exclusive report in today’s Independent, which claimed the phone was registered to News International and located on the News of the World’s news desk.
The Independent said the phone had been used to illegally access 1,150 numbers between 2004 and 2006 and that police had discussed details of the calls with several alleged victims of phone-hacking
According to the report “who sanctioned the use of this ‘hub’ phone, who kept it hidden and who used it illegally to access voicemails has become a key focus of the Operation Weeting inquiries”.
One phone–hacking victim, journalist Tom Rowland, was reportedly told of ‘the hub’in an interview with officers from Operation Weeting.
He told The Independent:
They [Weeting detectives] showed me a phone log taken from inside News International. They said it was the ‘NOTW hub’and showed a pattern of calls made to my mobile phone.
He said the log showed his mobile had been accessed more than 60 times, with specific dates listed, according to The Independent.
Today’s report continued:
A former journalist on the NOTW confirmed the existence of the “hub phone” saying that, inside his former newspaper’s offices, it was controlled by a nucleus of individuals on the newsdesk, leaving reporters to operate “like IRA cells who were assigned stories, given precise information, but never told where this information actually came from”.
The former reporter claimed that the newsdesk executives at the tabloid “kept their cards close to their chests”. He said reporters “would be told precisely where a person would be at a given time, so we could go and intercept, photograph and question them.
That person would be surprised at how we had discovered their whereabouts. In retrospect the obvious explanation is that a voicemail was left somewhere in which the person had declared their intention to be at a specific location at a specific time.” The “hub” was described by the ex-reporter as being “at the heart of the NOTW newsroom”. He said that it had been used to conduct hacking “on an industrial scale”.