By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
THE MAIL on Sunday published details of private calls made by Sir Paul McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills while she was also under illegal surveillance by Fleet Street phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire, Byline Investigates can reveal.
Britain’s biggest mid-market weekend tabloid – which strenuously denies ever using the eavesdropping technique or “knowingly” using Mulcaire’s services – ran a double-page spread about Ms Mills and a divorced couple she knew called Nicky Taylor and Ben Noakes.
Last week, we revealed the secret notes twice-convicted hacker Mulcaire wrote while conducting a three-month spying operation on Mills, Taylor, and Noakes, which suggest he was, in fact, working in part on the Mail on Sunday’s behalf.
And today he goes further, describing how he used fraudulent means to obtain Ms Mills’s mobile phone bills – details of which were then allegedly relayed in a phone call to the newspaper’s then Associate Editor for News and Sport, and third in charge overall, Chris Anderson.
In an exclusive interview with Byline Investigates, Mulcaire said of the June 18, 2006, Mail on Sunday article:“I isolated the traffic on Heather Mills’ phone around that time, and got the itemised billing data.
“This was a list of calls Heather Mills was making; who to, their duration, and so on. This is how I found out that Heather Mills was calling Nicky Taylor.”
Last night a spokesperson for the Mail on Sunday said: : “We reiterate that these allegations – which relate to events twelve years ago and rely on the word of a convicted phone hacker – are utterly baseless and categorically denied.”
At the time of the hacking, Mulcaire had a secret £100,000+ a year contract with Rupert Murdoch’s the News of the World.
The now defunct newspaper hired him to use espionage techniques such as ‘cloning’ (obtaining personal data files by identity theft), blagging (obtaining private information by deception), and voicemail interception to steal people’s personal data.
However he was also ‘recyling’ unused material derived from his illicit techniques for other newspapers via former NotW News Editor Greg Miskiw, a Fleet Street character infamous for his mastery of so-called ‘dark arts’.
Both have now turned whistleblower in order to help victims of unlawful Press abuse.
It was Miskiw who picked up the phone and called Anderson at the imposing offices of Northcliffe House, the Mail on Sunday’s home on Derry Street in London’s upmarket Kensington, to give details, he said, of the Mills surveillance.
Miskiw had previously met Anderson, who had once worked under him as a Political Reporter at the NotW, in a café near Northcliffe House to discuss providing him with hacking and blagging services and material.
Miskiw said: “I said to Chris: “We can do hacking – are you interested?”
“He didn’t want to make a formal contract with me and Glenn, like the one in place at the News of the World.
“But he was interested in me putting-up (offering) stories to him on spec, as and when they arose. He would have known some of them were from hacking.”
The article itself, dated June 18, 2006, was attributed to Elizabeth Sanderson, a former MoS journalist who is now a media adviser to Prime Minister, Theresa May. There is no suggestion Ms Sanderson was aware of, or involved in, any wrongdoing.
Under the headline: “Heather, an early morning phone call…and the other man in her life”, it read: “Nicky Taylor’s heart skipped a beat as the sound of the phone ringing roused her from sleep and she realised it was still only 6.30am.
“She assumed, like anyone would, that it must be bad news. What other reason could there be for making a call at such an ungodly hour? And on a Sunday morning?
“Certainly, she could never have guessed it would be Heather Mills McCartney on the other end of the line.”
The story went on to offer further details of Ms Taylor’s communication with Ms Mills, couched as carefully worded “quotes” from unnamed “sources”.
A page from Mulcaire’s note-books, which Byline has dated at July 10th 2006 – 23 days after the story – suggests the private eye and Miskiw arranged a £600 fee for surveillance services focused on television producer Ms Taylor and her ex-husband Mr Noakes, who was a friend of Ms Mills.
When Byline Investigates contacted Chris Anderson he confirmed he knew Miskiw – and that he bought stories from him. But Anderson denied knowing the stories could have been derived from phone hacking. He also denied knowledge of Miskiw’s illegal story-getting methods.
However, our reporters have seen emails – sent between Miskiw and Anderson around the same time and about different people of interest to the Mail on Sunday – containing what appear to be transcripts of hacked voicemails.
Other possible victims of Mail on Sunday hacking include Former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott and model Kate Moss – and a celebrity couple whose identity Byline Investigates will reveal next week.
Last night a spokesperson for the Mail on Sunday, which at the time of the allegations was edited by Peter Wright, now a serving member of Press regulator IPSO’s complaints committee, and today is served by Paul Dacre as its editor in chief, added: “Neither The Mail on Sunday, Chris Anderson nor Elizabeth Sanderson have ever knowingly used information illegally acquired by Greg Miskiw or Glenn Mulcaire.
“The article you mention was published on June 18, 2006 – three weeks BEFORE you claim Glenn Mulcaire conducted inquiries on the same subject, and therefore could not have been the result of those supposed enquiries.”
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