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December 3, 2014

‘Potential remedies’ being looked at by News UK over Vodafone’s handover of 1,700 staff phone records to police

By William Turvill

News UK is looking at “potential remedies” after discovering Vodafone mistakenly provided the Metropolitan Police with the phone records of 1,757 employees.

Vodafone, for now, remains the provider for the publisher’s work phone accounts after a “senior executive” apologised to the News UK and News Corp chief executives.

Staff were told last week that the records given to the Met relate to staff using company mobile phone between 2005 and 2007.

This means that most of the journalists working on The Sun, now-defunct News of the World, Times and Sunday Times are likely to have been affected.

According to an email from News UK chief executive Mike Darcey the data, held by the company's main telecoms provider Vodafone, was "inadvertently disclosed by them to the Metropolitan Police Service last February in response to a specific request under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act".

The data will include details of numbers called by staff members, and calls received, so could compromise confidential journalistic sources.

The request was made by officers from Operation Elveden, the investigation into payments by journalists to public officials, and – according to Darcey – they were seeking details of the outgoing calls made by one member of staff.

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The Met Police held on to the data for seven months before handing it back and is understood to have placed it in a spreadsheet for analysis.

Asked by Press Gazette yesterday at a media briefing on Times Newspapers finances whether Vodafone remains the provider for work phones, News UK director of communications Guto Harri said: “I think as things stand it is…

“I know a senior executive of Vodafone has personally apologised both to Mike Darcey, the CEO here, and Robert Thomson, the CEO of News Corp.

“And there may be potential remedies we may have which we can say we are exploring without pre-empting any outcome.”

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