Murdoch’s NoW in deep trouble as celebs plan to sue for phone hacking

The Guardian has done the unthinkable: put a leash on one of Rupert Murdoch’s most ferocious hounds...

Written by Vijay Rana | London | Published: July 11, 2009 3:40 am

The Guardian has done the unthinkable: put a leash on one of Rupert Murdoch’s most ferocious hounds — News of the World.

The Guardian has claimed that journalists from NoW had hacked into phones of thousands of British politicians,actors,celebrities and sportspersons. “This is the most significant media stories of modern times,” said Andrew Neil,former Sunday Times editor.

The Guardian also revealed that Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers paid more than £1 million to settle the case.

Gordon Taylor,chief executive of Professional Footballers’ Association,received £700,000 payment from News Group,the media group managed to persuade the court to “seal the file” to prevent all other public access.

NoW targeted 2,000 to 3,000 public fugures. Among them was former Deputy PM John Prescott,who in 2006 had an affair with his secretary Tracey Temple. “All women in my office were phoned by the press. How did the press get their private numbers?” he asked.

The victims’ list includes former Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell,London Mayor Boris Johnson,senior Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes,Gwyneth Paltrow,George Michael,Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson,celebrity chef Nigella Lawson,Jade Goody and others.

After an injury to his knee while playing football,Prince William had sought medical assistance autumn 2005 but had discussed it only with Prince Charles and a secretary. Suspicions were raised when NoW reported that the knee injury had led Prince William to postpone a mountain rescue course.

The tabloid’s string of scoops came to a sudden end in August 2006 when royal editor Clive Goodman and private detective Glemm Mucaire were arrested for hacking phones of the Buckingham Palace staff. Police found that Goodman had the access code to the Prince Charles’s mobile mailbox. Editor Andy Coulson resigned on moral grounds and told the court that Goodman was the only journalist involved in the scandal.

Les Hinton,Murdoch’s top executive in the UK was called to depose before the Parliamentary Select Committee on media. He too claimed that Goodman was the only one involved in the hackings.

Publicist Max Clifford and football agent Sky Andrews and many other victims were on Friday busy seeking legal advice. Meanwhile,the Scotland Yard has ruled out further action because the Guardian has presented no new evidence that might be tested in a court of law.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has announced a review of available evidence. The Parliamentary Select Committee has decided to call senior Murdoch executives to find out how much they knew of their journalist’s misdemeanour. The Press Complaints Commission has also announced an enquiry.

The question is,how much did Rupert Murdoch know about these hacking activities? “That we will never know”,said Andrew Neil,one of his close confidants.

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