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News International's new hacking evidence

Robert Peston | 21:27 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I have learned that News International uncovered four e-mails indicating that the former News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson had full knowledge of the illegal phone hacking activities of the private detective, Glenn Mulcaire.

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for his role in trying to intercept voicemail messages left for royal aides.

Mr Edmondson had always denied to News International's bosses that he had any knowledge of hacking. So executives of the UK arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation yesterday concluded that they had no option but to sack Mr Edmondson.

A source said that Mr Edmondson misled News International when originally asked about all this a few years ago. "He denied all knowledge," the source said.

News International is now expected to go on a hunt for evidence to discover whether other executives from that era are implicated.

"This is a new phase for News International in relation to the hacking," said a businessman close to the media group. "They want to know everything and root out anyone who obtained information improperly. It could get pretty messy."

Andy Coulson, the former director of communications for the prime minister who was editor of the News of the World at the relevant time, has always denied all knowledge of the hacking.

In investigating the involvement of Mr Edmondson, News International trawled through thousands of e-mails.

News International has passed the e-mails - described as "devastating" by a source - to the police, which has opened a new enquiry into the alleged illicit hacking of mobile phones of well-known individuals.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Listening to their phone calls should get the evidence they need.

  • Comment number 2.

    I wonder if Rupert Murdoch resorts to such direct and basic Anglo Saxon as Robert Maxwell used to do when firing senior executives? Is anyone bugging the meeting room so we can find out? With Robert Maxwell he had a strong voice and his buildings had remarkably thin walls! Mini Roop on the other hand....

    All of this schadenfreude is a bit pointless, but nevertheless the antics of 'powerful' people are their for our amusement! Telling porkies is wrong, but even worse is getting caught (as Tommy Sheridan found out today!)

    The News of The World may well have scuppered Rupert Murdoch's last fling as an omnipotent media baron! So in a way we should thank Ian Edmondson!

  • Comment number 3.

    Being a cynic, I wonder why, just at the moment when Newscorp wants us to believe how upstanding they are, in order to get to buy BSkyB, one of their executives is being put out to dry.

    I am sure that Rupert Murdoch is very angry. The question is why. I would like to think that there are limits to the ways he thinks stories could be investigated. I could be wrong and his anger is to do with the effect phone tapping might have on his business ambitions.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    I hope your source didn't tell you over the phone ...

  • Comment number 6.

    Has News International ASKED all key executives if they knew anything about phone hacking?

    Who was it that was signing off on Mulciare's invoices? What did they think Mulcaire was being paid for?

    Have they asked Mulcaire who he was speaking to at News International?



    And what investigations have other tabloids made to assure themselves none of their staff were guilty of phone hacking?




  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am old enough to remember the impact of Murdoch's ownership of the Sun, on that newspaper, and the "race to the bottom" in journalistic standards which affected several other newspapers. The history shows that all Darth Murdoch's undertakings are given with crossed fingers behind his back.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_%28United_Kingdom%29#History

    International companies can be as malign in their influence as a terrorist group like 0Al Quaeda. The ascent of Pinochet in Chile is a demonstration of that. I believe that Murdoch and his empire are as much enemies of Western democracy as Ahmedinajad of Iran, or Osama. Why, because most of his media glorify ignorance and dumb down issues to the extent that informed debate becomes somewhere between difficult and impossible. His influence in the US is helping to make that country weak and ungovernable.

    Personally, I regard those who take the "Murdoch shilling" with the same contempt as Thomas Huxley reportedly viewed 'Soapy Sam', the Bishop of Oxford:

    http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1371.htm

    (To be fair, there is no agreed account of the words actually said.)

    I am glad Murdoch is not a British citizen. That means we do not need to tolerate him. I see him quite simply as an enemy alien from whom we need to protect our society.

  • Comment number 10.

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  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

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  • Comment number 13.

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  • Comment number 14.

    If anyone wanted a demonstration of the power of News Int. just look at the number of posts referred for further consideration or removed.

  • Comment number 15.

    @2 "I wonder if Rupert Murdoch resorts to such direct and basic Anglo Saxon as Robert Maxwell...."

    How could you even suggest such a thing John? Didn't you know that St Rupert is a born again Christian now?

    http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=41520

  • Comment number 16.

    9. At 22:57pm on 26th Jan 2011, Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    Well said.

  • Comment number 17.

    @14 It could be just a symptom of the strong feelings the "gentleman" arouses. If posting, one must distinguish between verifiable fact, and mere opinion.

    To type "Mr X is corrupt" is potentially libelous. But to say "I believe that Mr X's influence is corrupting our society" is opinion and fair comment.

  • Comment number 18.

    It looks like if anyone even breaks wind to close to Mr Murdoch or Mr Cameron at the moment, they're for the high jump, strange days indeed for the high and mighty.....great fun for us proles though !

  • Comment number 19.

    You only have to ask the question 'What would the tabloids have said if it had been suggested the Beeb had even once engaged in hacking'. There would have been wholesale calls for it to be totally dismantled. There would have been deep and wide investigation and the DG would have been flayed alive. It's the cover-up that will do for the untouchables, and possibly for the Met as well.

  • Comment number 20.

    14. At 9:45pm on 26 Jan 2011, you wrote:
    This whole affair reeks of posturing,obfuscation and deceipt. We need to know the whole story from pre and post election "private discussions " between the Prime Minister and The Murdoch empire and what deals were done, through to the phone tapping scandals and why News Corporation is being manoeuvred into a successful take over of BSKYB by the Government. Did any information from phone tapping get fed to The Conservative Party in the build up to the General Election? Immediate reference to the Competition Commitee should be mandatory. Why did Coulson get the job with Cameron and why did he resign just before the phone tapping scandal erupted again-did he hear something on the media grape vine?
    News Corporation should not be allowed near any more of our media or if it is allowed to buy BSKYB it should be made to sell a number of its currently owned UK newspapers.
    Anyone else want answers to these questions ?
    complain about this comment
    A REPEAT OF MY COMMENTS ON NICK ROBINSON BLOG HOPE THIS IS OK

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    @9 "I am glad Murdoch is not a British citizen. That means we do not need to tolerate him." Actually his grandfather was born in Scotland, so Rupe has rights of residency etc, no worries!

  • Comment number 23.

    Newscorp often makes comments about the power and influence of the BBC. There may be some merit in this, but I feel that a poll of the nation about which organisation they trust more would fall the BBC's way. But that is to miss one very important point.

    The BBC can be successfully attacked, restructured and altered in what is deemed to public interest. Newscorp has such a powerful position that it need only operate in its own interest. In that sense it is like Microsoft and Google, but with less philanthropic principal sherholders. It is also a similar question that we could ask about our major banks.

    Is it in our best interests to have such large organisations running our country? Some would reply it is better than having a large organisation called 'the government' doing the job. But that rather misses the point. Is it the size of the organisation which is the cause for concern, rather than who owns it? It could be that lazy journalists would be able to launch a more successful attack on the BSkyB takeover if they concentrated on the more complicated aspect due to the size of Newscorp rather than getting it confused with the more simple and superficial anti-Murdoch retoric.

  • Comment number 24.

    What a huge exercise in media self-absorbtion! Let's have some real business news.

  • Comment number 25.

    What is interesting is the lack of police involvement. They have had enough complaints It would be a simple matter to ask the telephone companies to divulge the telephone numbers of people who have accessed the voice mail accounts of people who have complained. This has been done, but only in civil actions. Why only civil?

  • Comment number 26.

    Ok 4 emails found, how many mentioned M and been put to bed

  • Comment number 27.

    So the Met's thorough initial investigation didn't even include basic email searches?

    It stretches credulity that, even with the Police's infamous technophobia, they couldn't manage to simply search someone's inbox. Attention must then turn away from their competence to focus on their impartiality.

  • Comment number 28.

    Remind me why this is financial news....?

  • Comment number 29.

    First they said Mulcaire was acting on his own violition.

    When that was exposed as a lie they said that it was 'one rogue reporter'.

    That's now been exposed as a lie because they've had to get rid of Ian Edmondson.

    So how high up does this go? It's stretching credulity, to the point of taking us for utter mugs, to suggest that Andy Coulson didn't know, that's pretty much a given now.

    But higher than that? Grant Mitchell's ex wife?

    Higher than that? Les Hinton?

    Higher than that?

    How much easier everything would have been if News International had 'fessed up on Day 1.

    'Oh, what a tangled web we weave...'

  • Comment number 30.

    This whole thing absolutely stinks, with Coulson and Cameron 'in bed' together it makes you wonder if the government has been having a word in the Met's ear about this case. We can only hope Edmondson didn't get a mega pay off and will now spill the beans.

  • Comment number 31.

    Has Robert Peston taken over as BBC crime correspondent, but simply forgot to move his blog from the business pages?

  • Comment number 32.

    Fair play to News Int. they are finally dealing with the issue. Query why it has taken so long.

    But lets be clear about it - this seems to me to be a strategic withdrawl.

    In my opinion it will be interesting to see where News Int try to draw the line in the sand and whether they try to protect any particular individuals.

    I am probably just a sad little blogger but I would be interested to know what (if anything) Rebekah Brooks knew about phone hacking.

    Is anyone going to ask her?


  • Comment number 33.

    @32 - It's inconceivable she didn't. I know its bad practice to micromanage but if a boss isn't aware of their staff's actions when there could be serious legal consequences then they can't be that good at managing, and you don't get that high up in such a corporation without having at least a little management skill.

  • Comment number 34.

    #29 wrote "So how high up does this go? It's stretching credulity, to the point of taking us for utter mugs, to suggest that Andy Coulson didn't know, that's pretty much a given now."

    No you are making an assumption. If it is subsequently proved correct then obviously Coulson lied.

    #30 wrote "with Coulson and Cameron 'in bed' together it makes you wonder if the government has been having a word in the Met's ear about this case."

    Conspiracy theory, no evidence. Highly unlikely.


    For me there is a very simple question. If the new evidence comes from emails that were sent before the Mulcaire trial - why did the Met not spot these. I know there were bound to be many thousands of emails maybe even millions but it surely was not that hard. Of course as this was all in 2007 the present govt cannot be blamed

  • Comment number 35.

    #15. Sasha Clarkson wrote:

    "@2 "I wonder if Rupert Murdoch resorts to such direct and basic Anglo Saxon as Robert Maxwell...."

    How could you even suggest such a thing John? Didn't you know that St Rupert is a born again Christian now?"

    It is strange that one of the things that happens to media barons after they eventually come to understand that earthly power is not enough is that they get religion near the end. In Maxwell's case before he took up swimming at night off of the canaries to be shortly followed by the interment on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem from where the religious believe the righteous will rise again. (If indeed it was his corpse!) Will Rupert Murdoch choose the place and time of his end?

  • Comment number 36.

    What would our attitude be if it was Silvio Berlusconi who was influencing our Politicians, Media, and Police.

    Can Murdoch just lift a phone and tell our elected officials to "Lay Off"?

    Britain is a great place to live in because there is a "fairness" gene in the culture.
    You can invest here because you will not lose your money through corruption.
    You will get a fairer trial here than anywhere else.

    At the end of the day, this fairness is Britains Unique Selling Point.

    Did you really think that Britains traditional prosperity and inward investment was based on its brilliant bankers?


  • Comment number 37.

    Well now we know why this investigation has not got very far. It seems the Police are dragging their feet.
    imagine for 1 minute that you were one of the victims of this hacking. How would you be feeling if having discovered this (and dont ask me how you discover it!) you then try reporting this to the Met only to find out theyre up to their necks in this shady business too. Rather resembles the old soviet block does it not?

  • Comment number 38.

    I wonder if it is just coincidence that just as News International decide to come clean about this they have another scandal to divert our attention. Microphones "accidentally" catch Andy Gray making sexist comments and video footage suddenly leaks. Anything to stop people asking serious questions about why the police gave News International such an easy time.
    The Met says that Yates and the rest of his team are so busy doing terrorist investigations they don't have time to do the latest check. If they investigate terrorists as thoroughly as they investigated the News of the World then none of us is safe.

  • Comment number 39.

    Is this the same story as the other one, about the prime minister who hired a spin doctor who had quit from the news of the world after it came out that a private dick and royal reporter had been sent down for listening in to calls from clarence house, and where the London coppers hadn't taken much notice of all the complaints, which resulted in a gang of celebrities going to court to get compo fro the news of the world for phone hacking, whose owner had sided with the conservatives at the last election in order to get the OK for another part of his business empire to get the go ahead to buy the rest of some shares in some satellite company that hires sexist commentators at footie matches to talk badly about lady lines-persons in a deal that is threatening media plurality, and which caused a great deal of embarrassment when a member of the government was secretly recorded saying that he had declared war on the owner of the news of the world, which resulted in the minister being stripped of his powers to deal with the matter, so it was handed to another fellow called Hunt who James Naughtie spoonerised by mixing Hunt with Culture, making a naughty word that got said on the Today program, after which Ofcom told Hunt to refer the matter to the competition commission; but Hunt instead gave the firm involved extra time to get their bid in order, with the expectation that Hunt would make an about turn because the prime minster had said so in order to get news international support for the last election?

    Or is it some other, completely different case?

  • Comment number 40.

    The police should raid the News of the World's offices and take away their computers and servers and search for evidence themselves... isn't that what they do with anyone else suspected of criminal activity? Or do newspapers deserve different treatment?

    I can't see how the News of the World can be trusted to investigate themselves.

  • Comment number 41.

    From the Met Police investigation training manual:
    PC knocks on door: "We've got reasons to believe you might have been up to no good and there could be evidence on your computers that could show this."
    Man: "Wait there a moment, I'll have a look."
    Man emerges a few minutes later: "I've done a thorough 'root and branch' investigation, checked emails etc, and I haven't found any evidence of any illegal activity."
    PC: "Okay, that's all right then. Sorry to have troubled you."

  • Comment number 42.

    This is a ditty I wrote at the time of the Wapping dispute. It still seems relevant today. To the tune "The Red Flag"

    Oh Murdoch's "Sun" is for the scum
    It's hardly fit to wipe your bum
    Yes Murdoch's "Sun" is for the scum
    It's hardly fit to wipe your bum
    It's OK if you're really thick
    'Cos then the lies wont make you sick
    But if you have a heart and brain
    You'll want to flush it down the drain

    And Murdoch's "Times" is for the swine
    Grown fat and sleek on Thatcher's crimes
    Yes Murdoch's "Times" is for the swine
    Grown fat and sleek on Thatcher's crimes
    Their hearts are full of grab and greed
    They have no eye for human need
    They'll gorge the loaf, the upper crust
    There's only crumbs for proles like us

    Behind the razor wire you'll see
    The press that keeps us Strong and Free
    The riot squad, the picket lines
    The genuine Signs of the Times
    The scabs, their decency quite sold
    Who bend the truth for Murdoch's gold
    But honest folk will realise
    They'll not believe those Wapping lies

  • Comment number 43.

    @ 40. At 11:21am on 27th Jan 2011, Stuart_in_Devon wrote:

    > The police should raid the News of the World's offices and take away
    > their computers and servers and search for evidence themselves

    They can't do that coz' they wound up the Forensic Science Service!

  • Comment number 44.

    If phone hacking is illegal, how is it that looking at private e-mails is apparently acceptable?

    Most people would agree that private phone calls should not be in the public domain. Intercepting and opening letters is illegal. But apparently it is perfectly legal to disclose the contents of private e-mails.

    I am puzzled.

    Jack Harrison (Cambridgeshire)

  • Comment number 45.

    All this just proves if you want something to stay private do not pass it over any telephone or by e-mail. You can be sure that not just the News of the World will be listening/reading your thougts and words

  • Comment number 46.

    42. At 11:48am on 27th Jan 2011, mockrat wrote:

    > Oh Murdoch's "Sun" is for the scum

    That's certainly the prevailing view in L'pool, which is a no-Sun zone. I just wished there were more. I haven't met anyone who reads it in years (or admits it). And yet there is an underclass of people in Britain who consider it normal to read the Sun, or the News of the World. This county never ceases to amaze me and amuse me in equal measure.

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't doubt that the Murdoch clans sudden desire to uncover the truth is closely related to the BSkyB business. If it gets too murky, not even their closest friends (the ones they lunch with for example) will be able to support their bid.

    The bigger questions though are for the Met. Yet again they stand accused of failign to investigate properly or to act in the public interest. We need a proper independent (ie not their mates from ext door) investigation into their behaviour and what motivated it. There are good reasons why police cultivate the media, but there are many bad ones. Many of us have already lost faith in the objectivity, fairness and competence of the Met. it will become the majority if this latest set of failures is not dealt with rigourously and openly.

  • Comment number 48.

    So very interesting - emails have been found; at last.

    Does that mean we'll get to the truth of the matter ie. who was involved - on both sides of the telephone wire. No, I vey much doubt it. It's probable that we'll get to see what NoTW (Mr Murdoch and compatriots) wish to reveal. Maybe this was never about the truth....

  • Comment number 49.

    Former Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Brian Paddick, who believes his phone was hacked into by another newspaper, accused the force of running scared of the press.

    "There is a whole media machine at New Scotland Yard, designed to try and make sure the police are portrayed positively in the media. The last thing the police want to do is to upset newspaper editors, which could result in biased reporting against the police."


    Do the words Police state spring to mind. Freedom means a range of orgernisations owning the press!!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    In my 'umble opinion, all of this has blown up (eventually) because in football parlance, somebody 'bunged the wrong geezers'. The questions which someone should ask are a) who was bunged? b) who did the bunging? and just out of interest c) how big was/were the bung(s)?

  • Comment number 51.

    The police will leave "no stone unturned" in their investigation into allegations. Trouble is, the evidence is in email systems, not stones.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ 44. At 12:13pm on 27th Jan 2011, Jack wrote:

    > I am puzzled.

    Then join the police!


  • Comment number 53.

    If each person suing the News of the World manages to settle for close to £1M and there are hundreds of them then surely the News of the World is going to go bust. Wouldn't Rupert Murdoch be better just closing it down. Private Eye came close to folding under the pressure of legal claims. I know their resources were much more restricted, but then they only ever got sued by Bob Maxwell.

  • Comment number 54.

    Great blog Robert, this really does seem to be a smoking gun gradually appearing.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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