News of The World & The Sun in huge wiretapping scandal for 1000s of celebs

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Rupert Murdoch-owned British gossip papers News of The World and The Sun have been implicated in a massive scandal involving paying private detectives to tap into the phones of thousands of celebrities and public figures including Gwyneth Paltrow, George Michael, Elle Macpherson, and now-deceased Jade Goody. Those are just some of the names which have been released. News of The World went to great lengths to conceal this illegal activity, paying off three victims and ensuring that all the evidence in the cases were sealed. Journalists are said to have hired a private investigator who, along with illegal wiretapping, regularly conducted searches of police databases and paid off employees of various companies and groups for information. What’s more is that The Daily Mail is involved too even though they’re owed by another company, because they hired that same investigator to get information illegally.

Murdoch owns News Corp, the parent company to Fox News, The New York Post, and The Wall St. Journal. He denies knowing anything about this illegal activity. The editor mentioned, Andrew Coulson, worked for News of The World from 2003 to January, 2007, when he resigned over the royal phone tapping scandal. (In August, 2006, journalist Clive Goodman was caught intercepting some of the royals’ phone calls, for which he spent four months in jail. That obviously wasn’t an isolated incident.) Coulson also worked at The Sun, as editor of The “Bizarre” column, from 1998 to 2003, which is possibly why The Sun is involved too. [Note that while this report claims a “thousand” public figures were targeted, the originating story in The Guardian says that “several thousand public figures were targeted.”]

Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and Sun newspapers face separate investigations by London police and U.K. lawmakers over claims they obtained personal information through illegal means.

The Metropolitan Police will look into the allegations, Commissioner Paul Stephenson said in a statement today. Thirty- one journalists working for the tabloid newspapers acquired private information through “blagging,” or underhand means, the U.K.’s Information Commission said.

The Guardian reported yesterday that Murdoch’s News Corp. paid more than 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to settle lawsuits claiming journalists used private investigators who illegally hacked into mobile phones of politicians, sports stars and entertainers. The report throws a spotlight on the news- gathering methods of the competitive U.K. newspaper industry.

“If things came to a head and there was enough political interest in this,” the newspapers and individual journalists could face criminal charges for breaching data privacy laws, said Nick Graham, the head of the information and privacy practice at Denton Wilde Sapte LLP in London.

Cameron Twist

In Parliament, Home Office minister David Hanson told lawmakers the government first learned of the Guardian’s allegations last night. He said he couldn’t answer questions on why the victims, which the report said included former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, hadn’t been told by the police.

The report has taken on a political twist, drawing in Andy Coulson, the communications chief of David Cameron, leader of the U.K.’s opposition Conservative Party. Coulson was formerly deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World.

The scoop by the Guardian, a pro-Labour party newspaper, is an attempt to go after the opposition Conservative party, said Lorna Tilbian, a media analyst at Numis Securities in London.

Coulson resigned as editor of News of the World in 2007 after reporter Clive Goodman was jailed along with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for intercepting phone messages left for members of Prince Charles’ staff and of Gordon Taylor, chief executive officer of the Professional Footballers Association. Coulson at the time denied any knowledge of Goodman’s actions, which the newspaper portrayed as an isolated incident.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the House of Commons Media Committee, said today he will re-open an inquiry into the case.

“If there were more than 1,000 phone taps, it beggars belief that this was just one journalist and that senior executives didn’t know,” Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chris Huhne said in Parliament today.

Murdoch Unaware

The Information Commission said in an e-mailed statement today that it had documented “widespread media involvement in illegally obtaining personal information.”

“Following a court order in 2008 we made available a copy of some information from our investigation into the buying and selling of personal information, to lawyers acting on behalf of Gordon Taylor,” Mick Gorrill, assistant information commissioner at the Information Commission, said in the statement. “This included material that showed that 31 journalists working for The News of the World and The Sun had acquired people’s personal information through blagging.”

News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said yesterday that he wasn’t aware of any payments made to settle legal cases in which the company’s newspaper reporters may have been involved in criminal activity. “If that had happened, I would know about it,” Murdoch said in an interview at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

News International had no immediate comment, spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop said, but may release a statement later today.

Hacking Mobile Phones

According to the Guardian, Murdoch’s newspapers made out- of-court settlements that secured secrecy about three cases that may have shown evidence of journalists using investigators who hacked into the mobile-phone messages of public figures to access confidential personal data.

The newspaper said the conning of government agencies, phone companies and others into divulging information, before the mobile phone-hacking activity, occurred when Coulson was deputy and Rebekah Wade was the editor.


Celebrities and public figures in the UK are said to be talking to their lawyers and considering taking legal action against News of The World. Many people who were targeted don’t know about it, though, because the police have taken the controversial stance of not yet informing all the victims. Considering that one journalist got four months for tapping a single royal home this could turn into a huge series of trial with severe consequences for some of the journalists. If Coulson was the mastermind, he should pay the most though.

Gwyneth is shown on 5/15/08. George Michael is shown on 6/17/08./ Credit:

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13 Responses to “News of The World & The Sun in huge wiretapping scandal for 1000s of celebs”

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  1. Sauronsarmy says:

    WHO thought this was a good idea?! And WHO the hell cares what any of those “celebrities” talks about?

  2. Ally says:

    Considering their current rate of settlement is 500,000 per victim, I expect a criminal prosecution would be the preferred option for the newspaper.

  3. raven says:

    The police should be informing all the victims. I’d sure want to know if I’d been wiretapped, although some must have a pretty good idea based on what ended up in the gossip rags. I guess this gives new meaning to those “source” or “insider” quotes.

  4. Kayleigh says:

    OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! Like in the good times 🙂

  5. geronimo says:

    Combine a downturn in newspaper sales with an upturn in technology sophistication and that’s what you get. Desperate measures for desperate newspaper sales times.

    Also, it’s not just the illegal invasion of privacy of the celebs concerned here either, it’s that of everyone who communicates by txt and voicemail with them. Think about it – that’s one hell of a lot of illegal invasion.

  6. Jeane says:

    Ooh! Suddenly I’m thinking I should have read NOTW because a lot of what they printed was probably true! lol

  7. velcrodots says:

    Daaamn, this is crazy stuff right here! They are celebrities, not MI6 spys for crying out loud! Soon they’ll all have to invent a secret code just to make dinner reservations haha

  8. Rachel says:

    you said you’d sure want to know if you were wiretapped…
    Ever heard of the Patriot Act??
    75% of text messages are run through a database with markers for key words. Drug activity, public perception, whistle blowers, political moves, etc are usually the motive.
    If you’re an AT&T coustomer you can be sure that your home and cell phone is monitored.
    Over 90% of AT&T customers have had personal privacy invaded under the Patriot Act. Also, if you do a little research- you will find that your cell phone can be used as a one way listening device, even when it’s turned off. Even when the battery is removed.
    Scary huh? Sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory, but review the case law. All the lawsuits brought against AT&T were quickly shot down with no reform or media attention.
    I just assume that my life is hopefully uneventful enough to keep me under the radar…

  9. yae says:

    Rachel, this is indeed true. And while those laws were made while the so-called “conspiracy theorists” were trying to save us from it. And mainstream media who was in on the whole thing called them crazy and liars.
    And we Americans did too……..and let it happen. We also sold the our newspapers, cables stations and radio in 2004 to the higher bidders… most of our information comes from about 5 corporate interests. Which means about 5 opinions own EVERYTHING except internet……and that is next.

  10. yae says:

    Next the internet is on the plate with legislation. They are trying to bring “safe internet” laws and create ISPs that only allow you to visit a few sites maybe 1000 maybe a bit more. Yes of course,it’s just a conspiracy theory…..for now. Until its your new reality. Just like losing all your privacy…..once was just a conspiracy.

  11. BlueSkies says:

    Older cordless phone conversations can be picked up by anyone using a police scanner if they are in the 900 mhz range. The scanners can be altered to pick up cell phone conversations in the 800 mhz ban range. Some countries sell scanners that don’t have to be altered. The radios of police and firefighters can pick up most phone conversations when tuned to these frequencies. Make sure your cordless phone is in the 2.4 ghz or higher.

  12. barneslr says:

    Why would they tap Goopy’s phone? She vomits out too much drivel as it is. I doubt that anyone is interested in her vapid telephone conversations.

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