SUN EDITORS EXAMINED OVER PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS

Byline Investigates Big News Part 20: The Bombshell Paper-trail that Puts Murdoch’s Sun on the Defensive


By Graham Johnson

Editor, Byline Investigates

AN EDITOR and Deputy Editor of The Sun repeatedly used private investigators to illegally obtain people’s private data for stories, according to damaging new evidence that undermines the paper’s denials of wrongdoing to the Leveson Inquiry, Byline can reveal.

Dominic Mohan, 48, and Victoria Newton, 45, are named multiple times in thousands of documents which Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers has been forced to hand over to claimants alleging phone hacking at the tabloid.

Former Sun Editor Dominic Mohan leaving the Leveson Inquiry in January 2012. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe
Former Sun Editor Dominic Mohan leaving the Leveson Inquiry in January 2012. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe

The pair – who soared into The Sun’s hottest seats having founded careers as Cool Britannia’s self-style King and Queen of ‘showbiz’ journalism – utilised the services of notorious Fleet Street private investigator Lloyd Hart.

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Newton, who is the current editor of The Sun on Sunday and Deputy Editor of The Sun, has been name at least three times in invoices from Hart’s company Trace Direct International (TDI).

Victoria Newton: 'commissioned private investigators'
Victoria Newton: ‘commissioned private investigators’

The invoices from 2002 totalling £299.63 reveal that inquiries were conducted into celebrity couple Jack Ryder (ex-EastEnders actor) and Kym Marsh ( Hear’Say singer) and Jo O’Meara from the pop group S Club 7.

Marsh and Ryder were both victims of hacking in unrelated activity by The Sun’s sister paper, the defunct News of the World (NotW).

 - EVIDENCE suggesting former Sun editor David Mohan knew about the paper's use of Private Investigators - something he denied to the Leveson Enquiry - has emerged.An email from the paper's now New York-based Senior Feature Writer Caroline Iggulden appears to contradict Mohan's sworn evidence he had

EVIDENCE suggesting former Sun editor David Mohan knew about the paper’s use of Private Investigators – something he denied to the Leveson Enquiry – has emerged.

An email from the paper’s now New York-based Senior Feature Writer Caroline Iggulden appears to contradict Mohan’s sworn evidence he had “no knowledge” of use of PIs for illegal data gathering.

The document, sent on March 16th, 2006, to Mohan, who was then the paper’s Associate Editor (features), describes the content of a ‘blag’ – the act of obtaining of information by deception – on a target called ‘Tag’, whose name Mohan was trying to establish.

Iggulden wrote to Mohan, her Line Manager: “ELI rang him posing as the phone company and he said his surname was ‘Taf’. But obviously if we use that he might guess how we got it as he didn’t mention this name during our conversation.”

The name ELI refers to a company called Express Locate International, which provided a wide range of almost exclusively illegal information gathering services to Fleet Street newspapers in the noughties.

In his evidence to Lord Justice Leveson, Mohan admitted to using ‘search agents’ to obtain ex-directory phone numbers, but insisted they could not be described as PIs.

The email has emerged in an on-going court case between the Sun and the people claiming to be victims of phone hacking by the paper, something it denies.

TDI, which later traded as Express Locate International (ELI), has been identified in a court judgement as a company that supplied mobile phone numbers, billing data and pin codes for voicemail access to journalists that hacked on Mirror Group Newspapers’ titles.

Mohan, who edited the paper from 2009 to 2012, told the Leveson Inquiry that he had never knowingly used the services of private investigators at the paper.

The allegations of serious and systematic wrongdoing at The Sun – which NGN is strenuously denying – echo those leading to the closure of the NotW in 2011 after 168 years in print, which caused the failure of a bid by the Murdoch family to take over pay TV giant Sky. 

At the moment, a new bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to take over Sky is being scrutinised by the Competition and Markets Authority.

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