News of the World: UK Police Put Phone-Hacking Victims At Around 800
LONDON — The total number of people whose phones were hacked by journalists at the News of the World tabloid is around 800, British police said Saturday.
Scotland Yard said investigators have spoken with 2,037 people, of whom “in the region of 803 are victims” whose names appeared in notes seized from a private investigator working for Rupert Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World.
“We are confident that we have personally contacted all the people who have been hacked or who are likely to have been hacked,” it said.
Police had identified 5,795 potential phone-hacking victims in material collected from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the center of the scandal who was jailed in 2007.
Scotland Yard said Saturday that while there are still “a raft of people” it needs to speak to who were identified as potential targets, those individuals are unlikely to have been hacked.
What had for several years been a trickle of allegations by people who claimed to have been hacked by the News of the World – from celebrities like Sienna Miller and Jude Law to politicians including former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott – exploded this summer with the revelation that the paper had hacked into the phone of a 13-year-old murder victim, Milly Dowler, in hopes of getting material for news stories.
Two top London police officers and several senior Murdoch executives resigned in the scandal, and the investigation into phone-hacking has seen more than a dozen News of the World journalists arrested, including former editor Andy Coulson, who resigned his post as Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief as the scandal widened.
It also has prompted multiple investigations and an official inquiry into media ethics, which has heard from the Dowler family and celebrities such as Hugh Grant about the effects of media intrusion on their lives.
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British tabloid News of the World began intercepting Dowler’s voicemail messages
Days after the disappearance of 13-year old Milly Dowler, British tabloid News of the World began intercepting Dowler’s voicemail messages. The paper deleted old messages to make room for new ones, leading some to speculate that she was alive. The Guardian reports: “The Dowler family then granted an exclusive interview to the News of the World in which they talked about their hope, quite unaware that it had been falsely kindled by the newspaper’s own intervention. Sally Dowler told the paper: ‘If Milly walked through the door, I don’t think we’d be able to speak. We’d just weep tears of joy and give her a great big hug.'”
Police first became aware that the paper was listening to Dowler’s messages after it reported that an employment agency had called Dowler about a job vacancy, but didn’t take action “partly because their main focus was to find the missing schoolgirl and partly because this was only one example of tabloid misbehaviour,” according to the Guardian.
A News of the World item about his knee injury lead Prince William to believe that his aides’ voicemail messages were being listened to by a third party. Three royal aides also noticed that new voicemails were showing up as old. Months later, the New York Times reported, News of the World editor Clive Goodman wrote a piece about Prince Harry’s visit to a strip club that quoted a voice mail message from his brother William word-for-word.
Goodman (right) and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire (left) received jail time for intercepting hundreds of voicemail messages meant for royal aides. The pair accessed the voice mailboxes of three aides 609 times, according to BBC News. An earlier search of Mulcaire’s home turned up “dozens of notebooks and two computers containing 2,978 complete or partial mobile phone numbers and 91 PIN codes; at least three names of other News of the World journalists; and 30 tape recordings made by Mulcaire,” reports the Times, but the pair were only charged for hacking the royal aides.
New allegations from the Guardian that NoW paid £1m to suppress evidence of phone hacking prompted Parliament to hold new hearings two years after News International exec Les Hinton (bottom left next to Murdoch) first testified that Goodman was the only person at NoW who knew about the hacking. At the new hearing, Coulson (top left) maintained that he was unaware of phone hacking during his time at NoW.
A New York Times piece alleged that phone hacking was pervasive at NoW and Coulson was aware of conversations about the practice, despite denying any knowledge about it. According to the Times: “‘Everyone knew,’ one longtime reporter said. ‘The office cat knew,'” and reporters “described a frantic, sometimes degrading atmosphere in which some reporters openly pursued hacking or other improper tactics to satisfy demanding editors.”
Coulson stepped down as communications chief, blaming media speculation that he knew about phone hacking during his tenure of NoW. News editor Ian Edmondson was fired after allegations of phone hacking, and new information prompted police to re-open the investigation on NoW.
The News of the World admitted its role in phone hacking in a public apology on its website and paper. Former editor Edmondson and reporters James Weatherup and Neville Thurlbeck were arrested on charges of intercepting voicemail messages.
Levi Bellfield was found guilty of murdering Milly Dowler, but a second charge that he had attempted to abduct another schoolgirl was abandoned after tabloid publicity made it impossible for the jury to reach a fair verdict. News of the World paid Sienna Miller £100,000 in damages after publishing 11 articles that used private information from her messages in 2005 and 2006, according to the Guardian.
Police notified Milly Dowler’s family that NoW intercepted and deleted the young woman’s voice mail messages, destroying possible evidence in the search for her killer. New evidence also shows that NoW targeted families of London’s 7/7 bombings.
July 8, 2011:
Andy Coulson, former communications chief to David Cameron and ex-editor of News of the World, was arrested in the investigation on phone hacking at NoW.
July 10, 2011:
The News of the World released its final issue after James Murdoch, head of parent company News Corp’s operations in Europe, made the decision to shutter the paper. The move was expected to “take some of the heat off immediate allegations about journalistic behavior and phone hacking.”
July 11, 2011:
Multiple news outlets reported that the Sun and the Sunday Times, also owned by parent company News International, had been hacking the voice mail box and other records of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown for years. The Sunday Times allegedly posed as Brown to obtain his financial records, and the Sun allegedly received details about Brown’s son’s cystic fibrosis. The revelations mark the first time allegations have targeted News International’s other papers.
July 11, 2011:
News Corp referred its bid to take over satellite broadcaster BSkyB to the Competition Commission, which will delay the deal by at least six months as the company awaits regulatory clearance. British leaders have called for Murdoch to drop the bid, with Labor Party leader Ed Millibrand calling the deal “untenable” and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg calling on News Corp to “do the decent and sensible thing.”
July 13, 2011:
Rupert Murdoch withdrew its $12 billion bid for BSkyB, the largest pay-TV broadcaster in Britain, after the British government withdrew its support the day before. The deal, which would have substantially increased Murdoch’s foothold in the British media, appeared like it would sail through until last week. News Corp, which began to seek full ownership of BSkyB in March 2011, will keep its 39% stake in the company.
July 14, 2011:
The FBI launched a probe into allegations that News Corp. attempted to hack the phones of September 11 victims after Representative Peter King and other members of Congress wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an investigation. Murdoch also agreed give evidence before a parliamentary committee. He had previously said that he was not available to attend the hearing, but relented after receiving a personal summons delivered to him and his son by a deputy sergeant-at-arms.
July 15, 2011:
Les Hinton announced his resignation as Dow Jones CEO, and Rebekah Brooks stepped down as chief executive of News International. Brooks presided over the News of the World during the phone hacking of murder victim Milly Dowler, and is scheduled to appear before a parliamentary committee next week. Murdoch also met with Dowler’s family to apologize.
July 17, 2011:
Brooks was arrested in connection with the scandal, throwing her scheduled appearance before Parliament on Tuesday into serious doubt. In addition, Sir Paul Stephenson, the head of Scotland Yard, resigned his position, becoming the highest-profile public official yet to lose his job because of the scandal. (The Met has itself been plunged into crisis for its lax handling of the scandal and for the corrupt ties police officers developed to News International.)
July 18, 2011:
John Yates, assistant commissioner of the British Metropolitan Police, stepped down after the resignation of chief Paul Stephenson the previous night. The scandal has focused on British police for failing to investigate evidence of News of the World’s phone hacking activities and for accepting bribes for information from tabloid writers. Yates decided not to reopen the investigation two years ago, saying he did not believe there was new evidence to consider.
July 19, 2011:
Rupert Murdoch, son James and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks testified in front of a parliamentary committee. All three insisted that they were not aware of phone hacking activities at the tabloid. Rupert Murdoch also made clear that he would not resign. Someone attempted to pie Murdoch in the face with shaving cream.
July 21, 2011:
A former editor and a top lawyer for the News of the World accused Murdoch of lying in his testimony that he had no knowledge of phone hacking at the tabloid. The two recall showing him an email between private investigation Glenn Mulcaire and then-reporter Neville Thurlbeck with transcripts of hacked voice messages. Sun editor Matt Nixson was fired following allegations that he knew about phone hacking during his time at the News of the World. The investigation also threatened to spread to other newspapers that were named for using a private investigator to illegally obtain information.
July 28, 2011:
The Guardian reported that the News of the World hacked the phone of Sara Payne, the mother of an 8 year old girl who was abducted and killed by a pedophile. The 2000 murder had prompted Rebekah Brooks to launch a campaign for a sex offender’s law in Britain now known as “Sarah’s Law.” The phone that the tabloid hacked may have been one that Brooks personally gave to Payne in the aftermath of the tragedy, which Payne had praised as for helping her “stay in touch with my family, friends and support network.”
August 16, 2011:
Clive Goodman, a former News of the World reporter, has alleged that there was a massive coverup of phone hacking at the tabloid. He was arrested for phone hacking in 2007, and now claims that former editor Andy Coulson offered to let him keep his job in exchange for saying that he was the only person at the tabloid who hacked phones. The allegations are deeply damaging to Coulson and Rupert and James Murdoch, who have all maintained that they knew nothing about phone hacking.
August 18, 2011:
Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator hired by the News of the World to intercept voicemails, sued News Corp. over the payment of his legal fees. The company had been paying his fees since 2007 when he was found guilty of hacking the phones of aides to the royal family, but recently terminated the arrangement after Rupert and James Murdoch’s testimonies in Parliament. Mulcaire himself is the target of dozens of civil lawsuits filed by suspected victims of phone hacking.
August 19, 2011:
Glenn Mulcaire has been ordered to release the names of people who ordered him to hack the phones of six public figures. He is due to make the disclosure by the end of next week, as part of actor Steve Coogan’s lawsuit against News Group. The revelations threaten to blow the defense presented by News of the World editors, who claim they knew nothing about phone hacking.
August 22, 2011:
News breaks that the News of the World hacked even more of Milly Dowler’s voicemails than previously assumed.
August 26, 2011:
News International is continuing to pay Glenn Mulcaire’s legal fees, despite the company’s insistence that it would stop. The previous month, the private investigator had released the names of people who ordered him to hack phones, but the names were kept confidential.
September 13, 2011:
News International announces the discovery of thousands of new documents related to phone hacking.
September 19, 2011:
Milly Dowler’s family is slated to receive £3 million in a settlement with News Corp.
September 30, 2011:
Neville Thurlbeck, a former News of the World reporter, insists that he is innocent and was unfairly dismissed. His account contrasts News Corp.’s defense, which places Thurlbeck as the single rogue reporter responsible for phone hacking at the News of the World
October 5, 2011:
News International faces a lawsuit from the parent of a 7/7 London bombing victim, among at least 60 other lawsuits.
October 19, 2011:
Yet another lawyer has accused News International of misleading Parliament over its knowledge of phone hacking. Julian Pike, a partner of the firm that used to represent the company, said that he saw evidence that there were more journalists involved in phone hacking in 2008. His testimony came after the company signed with a new law firm and Pike was no longer bound by client-attorney privilege.
October 21, 2011:
Rupert Murdoch faced angry shareholders at News Corp.’s annual meeting. Shareholder after shareholder vented frustration with the company, and Murdoch struggled to remain calm, losing his temper at one point.
October 24, 2011:
James Murdoch has been called back to testify in front of Parliament for the second time on November 10. His testimony will focus on discrepancies in his account, given witnesses who have said that he signed off on phone hacking payouts to Gordon Taylor.
October 24, 2011:
Les Hinton, the former CEO of Dow Jones, testified about phone hacking in front of Parliament. The former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, who had previously testified on phone hacking in 2007 and 2009, denied that he misled Parliament in his past testimonies. He resigned in the summer, and was the most senior executive claimed by the scandal.
October 25, 2011:
James, Lachlan and Rupert Murdoch were all re-elected to the board of News Corp. despite huge shareholder opposition to their leadership. Their tenure was never in doubt, due to the company’s shareholder structure, but the majority of shareholders voted against James and Lachlan.
November 1, 2011:
A series of internal News International memos could be damning for James Murdoch, who is set to testify in front of Parliament for the second time next week. One of the documents was prepared for a meeting between James Murdoch and Colin Myler, the former editor who challenged his account of events, and specifically discusses the hacked voice mails. The notes of Julian Pike, then-lawyer for the company, also contain incriminating phrases like “paying them off.
November 10, 2011:
James Murdoch testified on phone hacking in Parliament for a second time. The younger Murdoch faced new evidence that he may have been aware of phone hacking at the time of his company’s settlement with footballer Gordon Taylor. He maintained his innocence, claiming that he was aware that Taylor had been hacked, but that he was unaware the News of the World had targeted others.