An email written by a News International executive showed that Rebekah Brooks received detailed leaks from police about the investigation into phone hacking at News of the World in 2006, the Leveson inquiry heard last night.LONDON: An email written by a News International executive showed that Rebekah Brooks received detailed leaks from police about the investigation into phone hacking at News of the World in 2006, the Leveson inquiry heard last night.
The email said police had learnt that more than £1 million had been paid for voice hacking and that police had a list of more than 110 victims, Robert Jay, QC, told the hearing.
The inquiry also heard that a second News International masthead, The Sun, had ”a culture of illegal payments”, with one public official receiving £80,000 over time and one journalist receiving £150,000 to pay sources.
The head of the police inquiry into phone hacking, Detective Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, said police were investigating ”a network of corrupt officials”, some of whom had been placed on retainer by The Sun.
She said payments were authorised at a senior level on the paper and emails indicated journalists recognised it was illegal, ”reference being made to staff ‘risking losing their pension or job’, to the need for ‘care’ and to the need for ‘cash payments’. There is also an indication of ‘tradecraft’, by hiding cash payments to ‘sources’ through making them to a friend or relative of the source.”
She said that nearly all of the payments to public officials related not to stories in the public interest but to ”salacious gossip” and breaches of trust and privacy.
The revelations came as classical singer Charlotte Church settled a court case over hacking for £600,000, the largest payout to date. Hacking of her and her family resulted in 33 stories in the News of the World.
The critical email that reveals News International was leaked information about the police inquiry into its malpractices undermines the company’s initial claim that hacking was confined to a single rogue reporter.
The email was written by the head of legal affairs, Tom Crone, to the News of the World editor Andy Coulson on September 15, 2006, and was based on what Mr Crone had been told by Rebekah Wade (later Rebekah Brooks), then editor of The Sun, who had been given a police briefing.
The email, headlined ”Strictly private and confidential”, detailed 10 aspects of the police investigation, saying that the police raid on the home of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had found voice recordings and voicemail notes from hacked phones.
”In terms of the News of the World, they suggested not widening [the investigation] to cover other News of the World people but they would if they got direct evidence [of journalists accessing voicemails],” the email said.
”But they have got hold of News of the World’s back numbers 2004.”
The email said police seemed in one case to have a phrase from a News of the World story that was identical to the tape or note of Mr Mulcaire’s access.
The email also appears to be evidence that Mr Coulson, who later become chief communications adviser to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, before resigning over the phone hacking furore last year, knew in 2006 of the wide extent of phone hacking within the News of the World.
First published at smh.com.au.