- Mail on Sunday was spying on Hughes and his friend.
- Glenn Mulcaire and Greg Miskiw give a blow-by-blow account of how they hacked, blagged and “pinged” the pair during illegal operation.
- Questions raised over Paul Dacre’s evidence at the Leveson Inquiry which said the Mail on Sunday “categorically” did not phone hack.
- Miskiw was paid by the Mail on Sunday for his illegal activities.
- Hughes and his friend raised their suspicions at Leveson – but Byline Investigates has finally pieced together the criminal conspiracy.
By Graham Johnson
Editor, Byline Investigates
“Killer” emails between Britain’s most prolific phone hacking operation and the Mail on Sunday evidence a criminal conspiracy, Byline Investigates can reveal.
Our reporters have seen six emails mentioning Simon Hughes and a man with whom he was in a relationship, during the time they were being hacked.
The messages were between Mail on Sunday Associate Editor Chris Anderson and Greg Miskiw, a freelance journalist who acted as a middle-man for the phone hacking.
Miskiw had previously been News Editor at the News of the World where he had organised an extensive hacking operation.
The messages are dated between Tuesday 25th April 2006, and Tuesday May 2nd 2006.
Byline Investigates has revealed how Miskiw’s colleague Glenn Mulcaire was hacking Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, and his assumed boyfriend, for the Mail on Sunday.
Two other instalments told how The Sun illegally honed-in on Hughes too, by tasking another PI firmed called Express Locate International (ELI).
By Monday 25th April 2006, Mulcaire had “rinsed” as much information from Hughes’ phones as he technically could, including call data, voicemails, and texts.
However, in order to run a story, the Mail on Sunday still needed a photograph of the assumed boyfriend.
Keen to protect his privacy, the man was unwilling to be publicly identified – and still is.
He later gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry known only as “HJK.”
On a note dated Monday 24th April 2006, Mulcaire wrote: “Hughes Completed. Awaiting photos.”
Later, when Hughes was shown this note, he wrongly inferred that the News of the World, who had been publicly implicated in hacking, was preparing a story.
But it was the Mail on Sunday that was watching HJK’s home, using a surveillance photographer, in a bid to get a long-lens picture.
Miskiw’s job was to act as a coordinator between Mulcaire and the Mail on Sunday, to ensure they knew when HJK would be at home.
One of the emails, sent to the Mail on Sunday by Miskiw, relates in part to a ‘blag’ call made by Glenn Mulcaire, who was posing as a Post Office manager.
Mulcaire pretended that he had found a lost parcel for HJK, which had his mobile number on.
Mulcaire asked for his address and confirmed he was there at that moment.
In a witness statement, to the Leveson Inquiry in 2012, HJK recalled this incident, because he specifically remembered the phone call.
However, he did not know about the invisible forms of surveillance, such as phone hacking, which Mulcaire was carrying-out simultaneously.
Mulcaire told Byline Investigates: “I remember going on the phone call, to Simon Hughes’ male friend, pretending to be a Special Delivery office manager.
“This was because the Mail on Sunday had a photographer outside.
“It was to make sure he was in, so that the Mail on Sunday could get a picture, when he came out.
“This was the only time I “showed-out” during the whole operation, in as much as I had to physically make an “overt” call to Hughes’ friend.
“The rest, such as the voicemail interception and itemised billing, went on behind the scenes – that means totally covert – without me having to have any contact with the targets.”
The next day, Tuesday 25th April 2006, at around 10 am, Miskiw emailed Chris Anderson, who was the third-in-command at the Mail on Sunday :
“Morning, [HJK] is answering the phone in his flat.”
Greg Miskiw explained the background to the email to our reporters, revealing that the “blag call” was only one part of a more sophisticated electronic eavesdropping operation.
Greg said: “The “blag call” was only one part of a wider operation that was going on around Simon Hughes and his friend.
“Glenn did not just put in a silly little call, into flat where the friend was, to see if he picked-up.
“No way. Glenn was also “pinging” him – pinpointing where the boyfriend’s mobile was, to make sure he was in the flat.
“This was done, using “triangulation” of the nearest mobile phone masts.
“This is a process in which Glenn was able to locate the exact position of a phone, by monitoring the signals, relative to the mast.
“Glenn was also monitoring the mobile and landline of the boyfriend, and Simon Hughes 24/7 – that is, hacking their voice messages, and getting the billing data.”
Another note, written by Mulcaire, contains Hughes’ name and the figures “£6000”, “5500” and “£4500”.
Mulcaire said this is the amount of money Miskiw estimated he would be paid, if the story was published, an inference that was later made by Simon Hughes, when he examined the notes.
Another note lists phone numbers called by Simon Hughes and is entitled “Hughes and Rent Boy” – a putative story angle that never materialised.
On Saturday 29th April 2006, the Mail on Sunday instructed a reporter to doorstep both HJK and Simon Hughes.
HJK was later called by the same journalist on his mobile.
Greg Miskiw confirmed that he got the number off Mulcaire, and gave it to the Mail on Sunday, who used it to phone HJK.
Hughes later gave a witness statement to the Leveson Inquiry, stating: “I believe that the Mail on Sunday was also trying to write a story about [HJK] and me.
“I remember that both of us had reporters turn up on our doorstep on the same day trying to find out information.”
The story was due to be published the following day on Sunday April 30th 2006.
However, a bigger political story broke which may have knocked it out of the paper.
The story involved John Prescott and Tracey Temple, his former employee, who may have also been hacked for the Mail on Sunday.
On Tuesday 2nd May 2006, Miskiw asked for £500 payment from the Mail on Sunday, half of which was for his work on the Simon Hughes story.
Later that year, on 7th August 2006, Mulcaire was arrested for hacking the phones of members of the Royal Household.
The police seized Mulcaire’s notes, and network providers were informed that several customers had been targeted.
HJK later told the Leveson Inquiry: “I was contacted by my mobile telephone provider who explained to me that my account security had been compromised and that I was on a list of individuals who they had been told to contact.
“During the conversation, it dawned on me, that the information the journalist who door stepped me in April, must have been linked to the interception of my voicemail.
Suddenly, I felt I could explain so much that had been unexplained over the previous months.”
A spokesman for the Mail on Sunday said: “This allegation – which relies on the word of a convicted phone hacker, without any corroboration – is utterly baseless and categorically denied. The Mail on Sunday has never commissioned anyone to hack phones, nor have they ever knowingly used information that was illegally acquired by Greg Miskiw.”