Rupert Murdoch's News Group NewsÃƒâ€šÃ‚Âpapers has paid out more than Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1m to
settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his
journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get
stories, writes Nick Davies in the Guardian.
The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âfigures to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators.
Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence, which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them. The evidence also poses difficult questions for:
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ Conservative leader David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ The Metropolitan police, which did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¢ The Press Complaints Commission, which claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity.
The suppressed legal cases are linked to the jailing in January 2007 of a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, for hacking into the mobile phones of three royal staff, an offence under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. At the time, News International said it knew of no other journalist who was involved in hacking phones and that Goodman had acted without their knowledge.
Click here to read the full report, posted on guardian.co.uk.