The News of the World has denied an allegation that new court documents suggest illegal mobile phone hacking may have been going on as recently as last year.
In a statement, the Sunday redtop said it was “disappointed” the BBC led its news bulletins with the story this morning without giving the paper an opportunity to respond to its allegation.
The BBC said its report is based on documents relating to interior designer Kelly Hoppen, who is suing the News of The World for breach of privacy over alleged phone-hacking along with her step-daughter, the actress Sienna Miller.
The BBC claims the new development is linked to the suspension of News of The World reporter Dan Evans in April 2010.
The News of the World said in a statement: “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.”
News International announced last night that former News of The World assistant editor Ian Edmondson has been sacked from the paper after being suspended before Christmas. He has been linked to court documents in the Miller case.
The News of the World has revealed that it has handed over new evidence to the Met Police, and a new investigation has been announced.
The new developments place further questions over the News of The World’s continued insistence that former royal editor for the paper Clive Goodman, jailed in 2007, was a “rogue” operator and the only journalist on the paper involved in voicemail hacking.
This was also the line adopted by former editor Andy Coulson, who resigned as Downing Street head of communications last Friday saying: “Unfortunately, continued coverage of events connected to my old job at the News of the World has made it difficult for me to give the 110 per cent needed in this role.
“I stand by what I’ve said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman it’s time to move on.”