British police to contact thousands in tabloid phone hacking case

LONDON — British police revealed Wednesday it would contact thousands of people whose cellphones may have been targeted by the News of The World tabloid, an indication of the scale of the scandal at the heart of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

LONDON — British police revealed Wednesday it would contact thousands of people whose cellphones may have been targeted by the News of The World tabloid, an indication of the scale of the scandal at the heart of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

Police have long insisted only a small number of people were believed to have been have been spied upon by the tabloid, which employed a private detective to break into the voice mail boxes of the paper’s targets and eavesdrop on their private messages.

But that contention has been challenged by lawmakers, fellow journalists and former employees of the News of The World, who have claimed that the practice was widespread. There have also been allegations that police were hiding the full scale of the phone hacking operation for fear of jeopardizing its relationship with the politically powerful tabloid.

The police have denied those claims, but the force has long been cagey about who exactly was targeted — and how many individuals were involved. Alleged victims of the hacking include model Elle MacPherson and actress Sienna Miller, and some have complained that police only gave them evidence reluctantly — fueling allegations of a coverup.

Police said they were taking a “fresh approach” to informing people whose names appeared in documents taken from The News of The World’s private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire.

“With this new investigation, we will be as open as we can be and will show them all the information we hold about them, while giving them the opportunity to tell us anything that may be of concern to them,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said.

Police have previously said around 3,000 cellphone numbers were recovered over the course of their investigation into the hacking, although police cautioned that did not necessarily mean that they were all targeted. Akers made clear that every one of the people connected to those numbers would be informed.

“In time, we will … make contact with everyone who had some of their personal contact details found in the documents,” Akers said.

John Prescott, a former deputy prime minister who believes the tabloid used phone hacking to get a story about his extramarital affair, said that in a meeting with Akers Wednesday he was told police now had “significant new evidence” relating to his claim that he had been a hacking victim.

“I now look forward to the police finally uncovering the truth,” he said in a statement.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Most Read