Byline Investigates Big News Part 24: Clear evidence of further News of the World phone hacking emerges, court hears
A JOURNALIST on a flagship Rupert Murdoch newspaper was caught with explicit email instructions on how to hack people’s voicemails, the High Court has heard.
Douglas Wight allegedly sent a long contact list which included the private phone numbers of the model Emma Noble and her erstwhile husband James Major, son of former PM John, from his work email account to a private one.
And among the contacts listed was an allegedly incriminating typed entry that read: “If you want to listen to mssgs dial 07973 ****** and then dial the first no. again twice pushing the hash key after you dial each time.”
Lawyers acting for 58 alleged victims of phone hacking and data theft by News Group Newspapers say Mr Wight’s email note suggests that his contact list doubled up as a list of phone hacking targets.
Judge Mr Justice Mann agreed that News Group Newspapers – which denies wrongdoing – should now supply the list in full, having previously blocked out the details of many of the people it featured, claiming their information was ‘irrelevant’ to any legal proceedings.
Mr Sherborne said: “This paragraph relates to an email from Douglas Wight’s work email address to his private email address dated 14 February 2009. Mr Wight was a senior journalist at the News of the World.
“The attachment to the email (which is heavily redacted on what is said to be the ground of ‘irrelevance’) is a list of contacts/targets to hack.”
Mr Wight was a News of The World reporter who wrote for the Scottish edition and later for the News of The World Features Department in London until it closed in 2011 at the height of the phone hacking scandal.
Mr Sherborne said the list contained private phone numbers for, among others, James Major, son of former Prime Minister John Major, and his ex wife, Emma Noble.
“Again, this is plainly very significant evidence of unlawful activity, this time at the News of the World, and any search and review is likely to be very limited indeed. The entire contact list (and any other versions of the same) should be disclosed.”
The lawyers for News Group Newspapers deny phone hacking or using private detectives to gather data illegally. A full trial of the facts is scheduled for January.
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