Robert Peston points finger at Evening Standard on phone-hacking

BBC business editor Robert Peston today states on his blog that an Evening Standard journalist was taped by private detective Glenn Mulcaire.

This is, in itself, old news. But it’s interesting that Peston – who appears to be the chosen channel for tips from the top of News International – is writing about it now. And he does have some interesting new detail about the affair.

Back in September 2010, one of the more amazing revelations from the New York Times investigation into phone-hacking at the News of the World was an audio recording of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire explaining how to hack a mobile phone.

At the time the News of the World was at pains to point out that the journalist at the other end of the recorded phone conversation was not one of theirs. The Independent speculated that the individual worked for the Evening Standard.

Now Peston writes:

“A while back, the Independent suggested that the journalist may have been working at the Evening Standard when the conversation took place. That is the case.

“…the journalist when interviewed by his current employer – which, as chance would have it, is News International – denied wrongdoing.

“In 2009, the journalist moved to the Times, which is owned by News International.

“When the tape was put on the internet by the New York Times in September 2010, the journalist disclosed to News International that he was the person talking to Mr Mulcaire on the tape.

“He also told News International that he was talking to Mr Mulcaire in his role as an Evening Standard  journalist, although there is no evidence that his conversation with Mr Mulcaire led to any story being published by the Evening Standard.”

This conversation – which does not prove that the journalist involved hacked anyone’s phone, merely that they were told how to do so – dates from four or five years ago to when the Standard was owned by Associated Newsapapers and so suggests that Mulcaire had dealings with other news organisations beyond the News of the World.

The current Evening Standard management declined to comment on the latest story. Insiders at the paper say they know absolutely nothing about the matter.

The belief at the Evening Standard is that the Peston story came from News International, which may be seeking to throw some muck around against the rest of Fleet Street – now the rest of the press has broken its code of silence on covering the phone-hacking scandal.

It’s worth noting that new News International director of corporate affairs Simon Greenberg started work this week, after previously working as spin-doctor for the failed England 2018 World Cup bid.

Meanwhile, high profile figures continue to line up with more privacy actions against the News of the World to find out if their phone was hacked by the paper during the Goodman/Mulcaire era. The latest to start formal legal proceedings is former Football Association chief executive David Davis (the Independent reports).

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