Six years since the claim was first brought, News Group Newspapers have today finally paid damages and admitted that it commissioned convicted criminals to hack into the computer of a former member of the intelligence services.
The settlement comes shortly after the Competition and Markets Authority started its investigation into the Murdochs’ bid for full control of Sky.
The case also shows that the Metropolitan Police were aware that the victim, Ian Hurst, had been targeted in this way and yet failed to inform him because, he alleges, they were too close to News International. He only found out he had been hacked five years later. The second half of the Leveson Inquiry into police and press corruption remains suspended by the Government.
Commenting, Hacked Off Joint Executive Director Dr Evan Harris said,
“This public admission, for the first time, that senior News International executives had conspired with known criminals to hack into the computer of a former intelligence officer to try and expose the identity of a protected police informant, is astonishing.
“The fact that News UK should attempt to bury this admission in a corner courtroom on a Friday afternoon, more than six years after the allegations were made, demonstrates that the cover-up of criminality at News Corporation has continued since the hacking scandal.
“This is a clear indication that Leveson part two (which was scheduled to look into the extent of this illegality and how it was covered up) should now take place as promised to the victims of criminal intrusion.
“The Murdochs have claimed in the process of trying to obtain full ownership of Sky, that all their skeletons are out of the corporate cupboard and they are transparent and honest in the way their businesses work. But the admissions News UK have made today suggest that only a fraction of the criminality and cover-up at News International has reached the public domain.”
James Heath, Senior Associate at Atkins Thomson, who acted for Mr Hurst, said,
“This is a long running dispute, having lasted for almost 7 years. It has taken my client, his wife and daughter a very long time to achieve justice. I am pleased for them that News Group Newspapers have now settled this action and apologised to them in open court.
“The hacking of their computers, interception of their e-mails and surveillance of them was a gross invasion of their privacy. As News Group Newspapers have finally accepted, this should never have happened.”
Hacked Off will be sending a dossier on this matter to the Competition and Markets Authority and to the Secretary of State.
- Read the Statement in Open Court here.
- Hacked Off is the campaign for a free and accountable press, and we work with the victims of press abuse to achieve those aims.
PRESS ENQUIRIES AND INTERVIEWS: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Nathan Sparkes on 07883 533052.