Many at News International must have hoped this story hadn’t come back to haunt them… According to a report from investigative journalist Nick Davies, writing on Guardian.co.uk, the publisher paid out more than £1 million in out-of-court settlements to keep details of alleged phone hacking carried out by freelance private investigators out of the public eye. Davies says he’s uncovered documents relating to three cases where investigators hacked into mobile phone accounts of famous people to listen to voicemail messages — the cases went to court but NI made confidentiality a condition of out-of-court settlements, Davies reports.
Former News of the World freelance investigator Glen Mulcaire and the paper’s then royal correspondent Clive Goodman were convicted and jailed in 2007 for tapping the phones of several public figures, including members of the Royal Family both found guilty of hacking (via Press Gazette). The then NoTW editor Andy Coulson stepped down after the conviction but has since been hired as the Conservative Party’s director of communications. NI has always asserted that it had no knowledge of Goodman’s actions and did not commission nor condone them.
A few weeks ago we wrote what the top three challenges facing incoming NI CEO and current Sun editor Rebekah Wade are — a revised list would put these allegations of illegal payments right at the top.