UK

Phone-hacking: Review to consider new claims

Lord Prescott
Image caption A number of high-profile figures including former Deputy PM Lord Prescott believe they were targeted

The Crown Prosecution Service says it will expand its review of phone-hacking allegations to include any fresh claims made by potential new victims.

It is re-examining evidence about the News of the World following suggestions that the practice was widespread.

Meanwhile, former MP Paul Marsden says he may take legal action against another newspaper group, Trinity Mirror, over alleged phone-hacking.

Trinity Mirror said its journalists worked within the law.

Last week, David Cameron's chief of communications Andy Coulson resigned following continued speculation about phone-hacking at the News of the World when he was editor.

He resigned from the paper when royal editor Clive Goodman was jailed for intercepting the voicemails of royal aides, but said he had no knowledge that phone-hacking had been going on.

The practice was then said to be the work of just one "rogue reporter", but subsequently a number of high-profile figures have claimed they were also victims and lawyers have suggested hacking was widespread.

Prompted by these claims, the Crown Prosecution Service agreed to re-examine all the evidence gathered by police, and on Monday Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said that inquiry would be widened.

In a statement, he said "any evidence resulting from recent or new substantive allegations" of phone-hacking would be "subject to the same rigorous assessment" as material previously gathered in the case.

He said he had asked Alison Levitt QC to "take a robust approach with a view to advising whether the Metropolitan Police Service should carry out any further investigation or deciding whether any prosecutions can be brought".

'Exposed'

The allegation by Mr Marsden, former MP for Shrewsbury, is the first specific claim to be made against a newspaper other than the News of the World.

He has told the BBC he believes he may have been a victim of hacking by a journalist working for a Trinity Mirror title in 2003 and is considering taking legal action.

Trinity Mirror owns three London-based national newspapers - the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People.

"We have started those legal inquiries with a specific journalist and also the Mirror Group," Mr Marsden said.

"If it turns out to be true I would like it exposed in a court of law. I want to know the truth."

Trinity Mirror, owners of the Daily Mirror, said in a statement: "Trinity Mirror's position is clear. Our journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct."

Mr Marsden defected from Labour to the Lib Dems in 2001, following a series of rows over his opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan.

Elsewhere, the BBC's business editor Robert Peston has learned that executives at News International - owners of the News of the World - are conducting their own extensive investigation to determine how widespread phone-hacking was at the paper.

They are currently trawling through tens of thousands of emails sent and received by the suspended head of news Ian Edmondson, and if any other staff members are implicated they will also be suspended, our correspondent says.

If any more victims are identified they will be offered out-of-court compensation, and any evidence of criminal wrongdoing will be passed to the police, he adds.

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