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Murdoch Phone Hacking Scandal: Private Investigator Ordered to Reveal Who Gave Hacking Orders

Actor Steve Coogan, who has been fighting to uncover details on phone hacking by News of the World. (photo: Beacon Radio)

A court has ordered Glenn Mulcaire to disclose information on who gave him the order to hack the phones of Elle Macpherson and at least five other public individuals, including a Liberal Democrat deputy leader. The Guardian reports, “Mulcaire has lost an attempt to appeal against a court order obliging him to identify who instructed him to hack the phones, something he has resisted since February.” Mulcaire worked for News International and was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.

Leading the charge to force Mulcaire to share details is actor Steve Coogan, who was reported to be a hacking victim in 2006. According to Lisa O’Carroll, Coogan’s lawyers have argued, “If it were proved that the paper had instructed Mulcaire to hack into the phones of the six public figures, it would show that phone hacking was taking place on an industrial scale.” The figures are believed to include (in addition to MacPherson and Hughes) Max Clifford, a football agent; Jo Armstrong, a legal adviser to the Professional Footballers Association (PFA); and Gordon Taylor, former head of the PFA.

This is just the latest in a series of developments this week that have refocused attention on the phone hacking scandal. On August 18, former reporter of News of the World, James Desborough, was arrested on “suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications”—phone hacking. The Guardian’s Amelia Hill reports the charges raise the question of whether he practiced phone hacking techniques while in the US. If Desborough did, he would be the first News of the World reporter, who engaged in hacking in the US, to be arrested. [Desborough became News of the World’s Los Angeles-based editor in 2009.

On Tuesday, August 16, a UK parliamentary committee, the Culture, Sports & Media Committee (CSMC), which has been investigating the News of the World phone hacking scandal for the past months, released letters from various individuals involved in the scandal. The contents included a copy of a letter from Clive Goodman, a royal correspondent for News International, who was “sacked” after being imprisoned in January 2007 for hacking into the phone of someone from the Royal Household.

The letter led a number of people, who had been following the story closely, to call it a “smoking gun” because Goodman asserts in the letter phone hacking had been “widely discussed” in meetings.

In the letter, Goodman also details how he agreed to go to jail so News International could keep further details on the extent of phone hacking by News International media properties covered up. He was told he could have his job with the newspaper back if he did the time and did not implicate the newspaper. Despite engaging in the cover-up, he was still dismissed and not allowed to come back to work for News of the World.

Also disclosed on Wednesday was a letter from a law firm that many had believed had conducted an assessment of News International to determine whether others beside Goodman had engaged in phone hacking. The firm, Harbottle & Lewis, told the CSMC they were not tasked with a criminal investigation and never intended to produce an assessment that could be considered a “good conduct certificate.” In fact, they had been told to only look at whether News International had grounds to dismiss Goodman from his job. What they were tasked with doing was never intended to be a defense that could be submitted to UK Parliament.

Now, Telegraph reports further details on the extent of whatever investigation News International might have carried out. MPs have told Telegraph Burton Copeland, a leading fraud specialist in the UK, didn’t interview any staff of News of the World or study any emails sent by executives and journalists. Andy Coulson had told MPs Burton Copeland carried out an investigation and “files were opened up to them.” This, like many official stories in the scandal, appears to be false.

Each new detail on Coulson raises questions about UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson was hired to work as communications director for Cameron on that basis that Coulson didn’t really know much of anything about phone hacking.

Also, a Metropolitan Police detective has been arrested for leaking details on the hacking investigation. It is unclear whether the detective being arrested was sabotaging the investigation or if the police detective (who is not named) was looking to blow the whistle on corruption within the Metropolitan police that related to the phone hacking scandal.


The Guardian has done superb reporting on the phone hacking scandal. Not only have they been on top of the story but they have also put together data blogs, as well as interactive features for anyone who wants to learn all the sordid details of the phone hacking scandal.

Here’s a visualization the news organization has put together, which will tell you when everyone was arrested and who was a victim of hacking before it became an international news story.

And, here you can see details on Cameron’s meetings with top executives of News Corp and News International and also what News International executives said when they denied hacking extended beyond “rogue reporter” Clive Goodman.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."