According to the Guardian, the prime minister's media adviser, Andy Coulson, "personally listened to the intercepted voicemail messages of public figures when he edited the News of the World, a senior journalist who worked alongside him has said." The scandal, which emerged last summer, involved employees at News of the World allegedly hacking into phones and listening to voicemails of public official.
Coulson denied knowing of any illegal activity going on by the journalists who worked for him. However, an unidentified former executive from the paper informed Channel Four Dispatches that "Coulson not only knew his reporters were using intercepted voicemail but was also personally involved," states the article.
The unidentified source said Coulson would ask for the recordings to be brought to his office or to email a transcript of the recording. Other colleagues have also agreed that Coulson was involved.
Sean Hoare, a showbusiness reporter, told the New York Times that Coulson "actively encouraged" him to intercept the voicemails of public figures, according to the Guardian. Another employee, Paul McMullan, who dealt with investigations, said "illegal activity was so widespread in the newsroom that Coulson must have known about it." Coulson has denied all of this.
According to the article, an anonymous witness said Coulson was a good editor and would not let stories be printed unless he was sure they were correct: he said Coulson would listen to the messages first to be sure they were not made up. Coulson said he could not remember, "any instance of voicemail being intercepted during his six years at the paper," to a House of Commons select committee last year, states the Guardian.
Coulson resigned from News of the World after the tabloid's royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, was arrested for listing to voicemails of three members of the royal household. The witness on Channel Four said those who did know how to tap the phones would do it regularly, states the article.
There have also been claims that politicians and police have been effectively silenced by Rupert Murdoch's News International, which owns the News of the World. Dispatches raises an unresolved question over whether the officer who was in charge of the original investigation, the then assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, was himself a target of the News of the World.
"Brian Paddick, a former deputy assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard who is also taking the police to court, suggested that his former colleagues' decision to cut short their original investigation may have been influenced by their links with the News of the World," states the Guardian. "Dispatches raises an unresolved question over whether the officer who was in charge of the original investigation, the then assistant commissioner Andy Hayman, was himself a target of the News of the World."
When Channel Four asked the sources whether or not his name appeared anywhere in evidence collected by officers, he said he was never told whether his own telephone was hacked. Hayman currently works for News International.
Source and Image: the Guardian