New claims of 'widespread NoW phone hacking'

The New York Times has published online a lengthy investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World which it plans to publish this weekend in its Sunday magazine.

Press Gazette understands that the paper had three reporters in London working on the story for five months: Don Van Natta Jr, Jo Becker and Graham Bowley.

The key revelation is evidence that phone hacking at the News of the World was more widespread than previous admitted by the paper. The investigation also quotes one source who states that phone hacking was rife across Fleet Street.

The New York Times is an arch commercial rival of News of the World proprietor Rupert Murdoch, who owns rivals the New York Post and Wall Street Journal.

The NYT investigation focuses on the phone hacking scandal of 2006 – which saw News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire both jailed for intercepting the phone messages of royal aides and others.

The investigation quotes former News of the World employee Sharon Marshall who said: “It was an industry-wide thing. Talk to any tabloid journalist in the United Kingdom, and they can tell you each phone company’s four-digit codes. Every hack on every newspaper knew this was done.”

Matt Driscoll, a former News of the World sports reporter who won a £800,000 tribunal payout after complaining he was bullied, told the NYT he had been shown private phone records belonging to the footballer Rio Ferdinand by a senior editor.

According to the NYT: “A dozen former reporters said in interviews that hacking was pervasive at News of the World.”

It quotes a “longtime-reporter” who said: “Everyone knew. The office cat knew.”

Implicating former editor Andy Coulson in the phone-hacking scandal, the NYT reports: “One former editor said Coulson talked freely with colleagues about the dark arts, including hacking.

“I’ve been to dozens if not hundreds of meetings with Andy,” the un-named source told the NYT.

Sean Hoare, a former News of the World reporter, has told the NYT that he hacked the phone messages of David and Victoria Beckham.

News of the World executives, from former News International chairman Les Hinton downwards, have always insisted that their investigations have concluded that no employees, other than Goodman and Mulcaire, were involved in phone-hacking.

Yesterday, Press Gazette exclusively revealed that former MP George Galloway was the latest person to sue the News of the World alleging that it had invaded his privacy by hacking his phone-messages.

Galloway is claiming more than £300,000 in damages.

He was not among those named in the 2006 Goodman and Mulcaire prosecution. They were: publicist Max Clifford, football agent Skylet Andrew, chairman of the Professional Footballers Association Gordon Taylor, Simon Hughes MP and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

Taylor, his legal advisor Jo Armstrong and another un-named individual won payouts totalling more than £1m in costs and damages after suing for breach of privacy in 2008 in relation to phone-hacking – according to reports in The Guardian.

Max Clifford also sued the News of the World for breach of privacy and won a payout in March this year which was reported to exceed £1m.

In response to the latest Galloway revelations a spokeswoman for the News of the World told Press Gazette yesterday: “We can confirm Mr Galloway has issued proceedings against NGN in connection with alleged voicemail interception by Mr Glenn Mulcaire.

“The News of the World has absolutely no knowledge or evidence that Mr Galloway’s voicemail was accessed. We cannot comment further until we receive clarification from the Metropolitan Police on this matter.”

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