Police: 5,500 possible victims of phone hacking

By Martin Hickman

More than 5,000 people may have been targeted by the phone hacking operation at the News of the World, according to Scotland Yard.

In a briefing to reporters at the conclusion of the hacking trial, the Metropolitan Police said it had warned 3,500 individuals that their name and phone number were noted by the Sunday paper’s specialist phone hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, or appeared in phone records or emails.

London’s police force said it has been unable to identify or trace a further 2,000 potential victims, who do not know to this day that they may have been targeted.

The Met said that in all there were 5,500 “potential victims” of the paper’s hacking, for whom a name and an associated phone number were found in the evidence.

Of those, the Met said 1,000 individuals were “likely victims”, where there was additional evidence to suggest that hacking could have, or did, take place, such as PIN numbers, Unique Voicemail Numbers called, recorded audio messages and “specific references to individuals in a hacking context.”

Most of the evidence analysed by the Met’s ongoing inquiry into phone hacking, Operation Weeting, came from the force’s first,botched investigation into the News of the World in 2006/07, Operation Caryatid.

It includes 1,100 pages of notes and recordings of hacked messages made by Mulcaire, and phone billing data from Mulcaire, the NoW royal editor’s Clive Goodman and the hub and ‘private wire’ phones of News International’s headquarters in Wapping.

In its briefing, the Met said: “The total number of victims of phone hacking from the news desk of the News of the World is in the region of 5,500, of which just over 1,000 are classed as likely victims.

“A combined total of approximately 3,500 victims are now aware that they feature in the material. This leaves about 200 that we have not been able to contact.”

The Met, whose detectives have been analyzing Mulcaire’s notes since 2011, added: “It is unlikely that these numbers will change in any significant way as all reasonable efforts to contact the victims have been completed.”

Although the number of victims of hacking by the paper’s news department may not rise, there may well be an increase in the total number of people hacked by News of the World. At the phone hacking trial, a News of the World writer, Dan Evans, admitted hacking individuals on behalf of the features department.

Scotland Yard’s Operation Pinetree is investigating what it terms “a second suspected conspiracy to intercept telephone voicemails” at the NoW.

A third police inquiry, Operation Golding, is investigating a separate suspected phone-hacking conspiracy at Mirror Group newspapers.

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