Conspiracy Clinic
Hackergate: The British Watergate
Power Of The Media Gone Bad - News International (News of the World) and London Metropolitan Police
Rupert Murdoch

The Scandal: Journalists / private investigators working for News International, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (owner of Fox in the USA, and The Sun and The Times newspapers in the UK) hacked into the phones of politicians, celebrities and ordinary people caught in the media spotlight, to get stories. The London Metropolitan Police then failed to investigate this properly despite complaints from those hacked, because they supposedly had a too close relationship with News International. There are allegations that police officers were paid tens of thousands of pounds by News of the World and The Sun. Politicians of both parties were too happy to play along with News International because they feared Murdoch's power - culminating in a former editor of NOTW, who resigned over phone hacking allegations, getting full security clearance to work for the Prime Minister as his head of communications.

Rupert Murdoch
Updated 24 July 2012 (Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks to be charged over phone hacking)

What are the claims, what is the evidence? As this is now a live story, the main updates will be in real time: (The original timeline in date order (1999 - present) is now here)

24th July 2012: Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks have been charged with conspiring to hack the phones of more than 600 people, including the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and 7/7 victim John Tulloch, over a period of up to six years. 6 other people have also been charged. [Source: Guardian]

22nd July 2012: Rupert Murdoch resigns as News International director. [Source: BBC]

30th May 2012: Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, is charged with perjury committed at the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial in Scotland, December 2010. Andy Coulson was working for the Prime Minister, David Cameron, as his Director of Communications at the time of this trial. Andy Coulson resigned shortly afterwards. Andy Coulson said that he was unaware of phone hacking at the trial when cross examined by Tommy Sheridan who acted as his own counsel. [Guardian, Telegraph, Independent]

24th May 2012: At the Leveson Inquiry an email has been disclosed in which Jeremy Hunt made strong representations to Prime Minister David Cameron supporting in principle Murdoch's takeover of BSkyB. This was whilst Vince Cable was in the Quasi Judicial role arbiting the bid, however the Prime Minister would have known of Hunt's views when he gave him the job a month later. [Robert Peston - BBC, Guardian, Independent, Telegraph]

15th May 2012: Rebekah Brooks (3 charges) and husband Charlie Brooks (2 charges) charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the phone hacking scandal.

Charge 1 - Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

Rebekah Brooks, between 6 July and 19 July 2011, conspired with Charles Brooks, Cheryl Carter, Mark Hanna, Paul Edwards, Daryl Jorsling and persons unknown to conceal material from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Charge 2 - Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

Rebekah Brooks and Cheryl Carter, between 6 July and 9 July 2011, conspired together permanently to remove seven boxes of material from the archive of News International.

Charge 3 - Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice

Rebekah Brooks, Charles Brooks, Mark Hanna, Paul Edwards and Daryl Jorsling conspired together and with persons unknown, between 15 July and 19 July 2011, to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from officers of the Metropolitan Police Service.

10th May 2012: The Government accepts that it is "entirely probable" that Andy Coulson, whilst working as David Cameron's press officer, attended top secret meetings for which he had not received security clearance. [Guardian]

1st May 2012: The Culture Media and Sport Select Committee releases it's report into News International and phone-hacking. Rupert Murdoch is deemed to be 'not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.' The passage from the report below has been taken from Robert Peston on the BBC website [link]

"If at all relevant times, Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications.

This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International.

We conclude therefore that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

A full copy of the report is here

26th April 2012: Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch admits to a cover up at the News Of The World [Guardian]

24th April 2012: A 163 page pdf with emails seemingly between senior News Corp and government offices, mentioning Vince Cable and Jeremy Hunt are published. [link] This coincides with James Murdoch's testimony to the Leveson Inquiry today. The emails appear to show inappropriate contact between the government and News International. Jeremy Hunt has requested an opportunity to defend himself at the Leveson Inquiry as soon as possible. [BBC, Guardian: Minister For Murdoch, Telegraph: Jeremy Hunt and the 'Absolutely Illegal' advice, Independent: James Murdoch's revenge: Evidence that shook Government to its core]

The Guardian publish a detailed timeline of the attempted takeover of BSkyB [Link]

19th April 2012: Tom Watson and Martin Hickman's book Dial M For Murdoch is published.

Claims in the book include:

Dial M For Murdoch

Tom Watson claims he was offered a deal by News International to stay away from Rebekah Brooks. Andy Coulson would be handed to the committee but Brooks was sacred, it is claimed.

Rebekah Brooks office in News International was bugged in June 2011 - cleaners were told not to disturb the microphones.

Members of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, who investigated the News International hacking, were intimidated by News International journalists. They did hesitate to interview Brooks because of this.

[Source: Guardian]

13th March 2012: Rebekah Brooks and her husband Charlie Brooks are two of six people arrested by detectives from Operation Weeting on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. [Sources: Guardian, Telegraph]

2nd March 2012: Horsegate: David Cameron is forced to admit that he rode Raisa, a retired police horse lent to Rebekah Brooks by the Met. The prime minister admitted riding the horse before the election with Charlie Brooks, a long time friend. [Telegraph]

29th February 2012: James Murdoch resigns from the News International board.

27th February 2012: Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers says The Sun newspaper has built up a network of corrupt officials that supplies it with stories. This is a quote from her evidence [link - Pg 48]:

"The payments have been made not only to police officers but to a wide range of public officials. So there are categories as well as police: military, health, government, prison and others. This suggests that payments were being made to public officials who were in all areas of public life."


"There also appears to have been a culture at the Sun of illegal payments, and systems have been created to facilitate those payments, whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the money. The emails indicate that payments to sources were openly referred to within the Sun, in which case the source is not named, but rather the category "public official" is identified, rather than the name."

26th February 2012: The Sun On Sunday, the replacement to the News Of The World, rolls off the presses for the first time.

Sun On Sunday - First English edition

13th December 2011: James Murdoch admits that he received an email that Colin Myler, editor of the News of the World, sent him in June 2008. James Murdoch said he didn't read it. According to the Guardian, this email said that Gordon Taylor, boss of the Professional Football Association, had evidence that a colleague's phone had been hacked by another News of the World journalist. This blows apart the argument James Murdoch was making at the time that phone hacking was the work of just one rogue reporter, and suggests a reason why Gordon Taylor was paid £700,000 for his silence - a figure much higher than would have been expected had the case been decided by a court. [Source: Guardian]

8th November 2011: Derek Webb, a former policeman who set up his own private detective agency in 2003, was hired by the News of the World to spy on more than 90 people including Prince William, Prince Harry, Angelina Jolie, David Beckham, David Milliband, Boris Johnson, Tom Watson. Webb continued until the News of the World was shut down. Surveillance like this is not illegal. [Source: Guardian]

October 2011:

Steve Coogan & Louise Mensch Clash Over Press Regulation On Newsnight

16th September 2011: The Guardian reports that the Metropolitan Police are to seek a court order under the Official Secrets Act to make the Guardian disclose their sources in the Milly Dowler phone hacking case. If the court gives this order this would be a serious attack on press freedom. [Source] 21st September Scotland Yard say they are not proceeding with the action under the Official Secrets Act for the time being after considerable public outcry.

16th August 2011: A day of two significant developments. 1) Clive Goodman's letter from 2007 and 2) Harbottle And Lewis's response to allegations they had reviewed emails and had concluded the phone hacking was the work of a single rogue reporter. As it is easier to understand, the letter from Clive Goodman topped the news bulletins today...

1) The letter from Clive Goodman, dated 2nd March 2007, is published. It claims that hacking was widespread and was known about at the News of the World until Andy Coulson, the editor at the time, allegedly banned 'explicit reference to it'.

This is the letter:

Clive Goodman smoking gun letter, 2007

Tom Watson reviews these developments (quote taken from Guardian website):

"Let me be clear, if what Goodman says is accurate, then it's very, very serious for Andy Coulson and Tom Crone the lawyer. If it's not accurate, the central question is why did Les Hinton, the Chief Executive of News International at the time, on receiving this letter not mention it to a Parliamentary inquiry that he gave evidence to only days afterwards and why did he not immediately call in the police? After all there had been an allegation of widespread criminality in the organisation in 2007 and he didn't want to clear it up. That contradicts what Rupert Murdoch told us which us he takes a zero tolerance policy to wrongdoing in News Corp." Tom Watson

2) The Harbottle and Lewis advice. On 19th July 2011, James Murdoch, as part of his evidence to the Culture Media Select Committee, referred to a review of internal emails carried out by Harbottle and Lewis. This, he said, showed that Clive Goodman's illegal activities were the work of one rogue reporter and that News international 'rested' on those assurances.

On 24th May 2007, Harbottle and Lewis wrote to Jon Chapman, News International's Director of Legal Affairs the following [Taken from PH20A]:

We have on your instructions reviewed the emails to which you have provided access from the accounts of:

Andy Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Ian Edmondson, Clive Goodman, neil Wallis, Jules Stenson

I can confirm that we did not find anything in those emails which appeared to us to be reasonable evidence that Clive Goodman's illegal actions were known about and supported by both or either of Andy Coulson, the Editor, and Neil wallis, the Deputy Editor, and/or that Ian Edmondson, the News Editor, and others were carrying out similar illegal procedures.

On 19th July 2011 when talking to the Culture Select Committee, James Murdoch said that this was one of the things that News International 'rested on' when they reassured the Committee in 2009 that it was all the work of one rogue reporter.

Harbottle and Lewis replied to this allegation in the document PH20. A few interesting points, in summary:

Harbottle and Lewis say they were retained only to review 5 folders of emails as part of an investigation into Clive Goodman's appeal to his dismissal (in the letter above). Page 7 of PH20 refers to incomplete emails even in that collection - when Harbottle asked for paper copies those were incomplete too, they say.

The fee for this work was only £10,000 and only junior employees did the work. The relatively small fee was for around two weeks work and was not the sum that would have been expected for an extensive enquiry. No person was interviewed.

Harbottle had not given authority to News International to use this advice as any kind of assurance to a third party including Parliament, and had they been asked they would have demanded that the advice be put into context or they would have refused permission.

On 14 July 2011 Rupert Murdoch apparently accused Harbottle of making a "major mistake" in "understanding the scope of the problem", but Harbottle says he may be mistaking what Harbottle did with a much larger enquiry by Burton Copeland. Harbottle recommends that News International be asked to free Burton Copeland from their client confidentiality obligations...


29th July: Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator jailed for hacking in 2007, says he was effectively an employee of the News of the World and took instructions from others. This contradicts News International's assertion that he and Clive Goodman were 'bad apples' working alone.

This is Glenn Mulcaire's statement:

Glenn Mulcaire has already expressed his sincere regret to those who have been hurt and affected by his activities and he repeats that apology most sincerely.

He was effectively employed by News of the World from 2002 to carry out his role as a private investigator.

As he accepted when he pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of phone interception he admits that his role did include phone hacking. As an employee he acted on the instructions of others.

There were also occasions when he understood his instructions were from those who genuinely wished to assist in solving crimes. Any suggestion that he acted in such matters unilaterally is untrue. In the light of the ongoing police investigation, he cannot say any more.

22nd July: The Evening Standard reports that Lord Justice Leveson, the judge who will lead the inquiry into the phone hacking scandal, has attended two 'large evening events' at the London home of Elisabeth Murdoch on 29 July 2010 and 25 January 2011. Elisabeth Murdoch is married to Matthew Freud the PR guru who held the events. Judge Leveson has also had a meal with Matthew Freud. [source]


Colin Myler (final editor of the News of the World) and Tom Crone (News of the World head of legal affairs) made the following statement:

"Just by way of clarification relating to Tuesday's Culture, Media Select Committee hearing, we would like to point out that James Murdoch's recollection of what he was told when agreeing to settle the Gordon Taylor litigation was mistaken.

"In fact, we did inform him of the 'for Neville' email which had been produced to us by Gordon Taylor's lawyers."

The 'for Neville' email apparently has links to the NotW chief reporter Neville Thurbeck, and is 'critical' to why News International agreed the large out of court settlement to Gordon Taylor. The 'for Neville' email has been sealed with other court papers under a confidentiality agreement in the Gordon Taylor settlement.

This is the exchange between Tom Watson and James Murdoch:

James Murdoch says he stands by his comments to the Select Committee.

Tom Watson MP has said this is the most significant development yet.

21st July: The Guardian reports that Andy Coulson was never given the full security vetting, only 'mid level clearance'. [link]

20th July: MPs say News International 'deliberately thwarted' police enquiry into phone hacking. [Document]

18th July: Assistant Commissioner John Yeats resigns from Metropolitan Police.

Sean Hoare, former show business reporter on the News of the World, is found dead at his Watford home. He was the first journalist to claim that Andy Coulson knew about phone hacking. Police say the reason for his death is uncertain, but not suspicious.

17th July: Sir Paul Stephenson resigns as Met Police Commissioner. The Guardian dissects his statement here. Some of the main points are that Stephenson suggests to David Cameron that Andy Coulson was 'smellier' than Neil Wallis as Wallis never resigned from the News of the World, whereas Coulson did. It is also claimed that the Met targeted Neil Wallis for its PR role because of his relationship with Andy Coulson, which would be an important link into Downing Street if Cameron was to win the election (source: Vikram Dodd, the Guardian).

Rebekah Brooks is arrested when she attends, by appointment, a meeting at a police station today. Robert Peston, BBC, reports that she didn't know she was going to be arrested until after she resigned on Friday, however her publicist seems to be saying she didn't know she was going to be arrested. She was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications, contrary to Section1(1) Criminal Law Act 1977 and on suspicion of corruption allegations contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, according to the Guardian website.

16th July: Reports in the Mail that Rebekah Brooks vetoed David Cameron's choice of director of communications. Andy Coulson got the job as he was acceptable to News International, it is claimed. Guto Harri the BBC journalist was Cameron's first choice. [Source]

15th July: Rupert Murdoch visits with the Dowler family to give what was described as a sincere and humble apology.

Rebekah Brooks resigns as CEO of News International after 22 years.

News that Prime Minister David Cameron hosted Andy Coulson at Chequers in March, two months after his resignation in January.

News International are to run the following ad in all the national newspapers tomorrow:

We Are Sorry

14th July: Neil Wallis, former deputy to Andy Coulson at the News of the World, and former executive editor of the News of the World, is arrested. Allegations that Wallis was also a paid advisor (£24,000 a year for two days work a month) working for the Metropolitan Police who at the time had meetings with the Guardian in an attempt to get them to drop the stories which they said were were inaccurate.

Neil Wallis was also editor of The People, a Trinity Mirror Group newspaper, from 1998-2003. The company has been emailed for a statement - it will be posted here when a response is received. The request for a statement was around 6 o'clock 14th July, by 12:18 15th July no response has been received.

13th July: Only minutes before a debate was due to be held in the House of Commons, News Corporation said they no longer intended to bid for BSkyB. Under takeover rules they will not be able to bid for another 6 months, but many commentators suggest a bid could not be conceivable until the end of criminal investigations which could take many years.

11th July: Robert Peston reports that amongst the emails from 2007, there was evidence that a Royal protection officer was being paid £1000 for information on the royals. [BBC]

BBC: News International knew about a number of emails showing that phone hacking was a much broader problem in 2007, but did not release them to the police until June 20th 2011. [BBC - Robert Peston]

News of the World - 10th July 2011 (read the e -edition here)

10th July News of the World's last edition. It had no paid-for advertising in the paper, and donated the advertising slots to charities in the newspaper, they claimed. However, advertisers were still able to place ads in the Fabulous Magazine, the supplement given away with the paper - the magazine had full advertising and included ads from Olay (2 ads), L'Oreal Paris, Tesco's (4 ads), Boots (2 ads), Ribena, Superdrug (Sleek MakeUp), Nivea,, vodafone, Sure (unilever), O2 and sky.

8th July Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, and former Head Of Communications for Prime Minister David Cameron, is arrested on suspicion of corruption and phone hacking.

Steve Coogan and Greg Dyke confront Paul McMullin on BBC Newsnight (posted to YouTube 8th July).

7th July: The Guardian publish a list of the denials issued by various characters from News Corp over the years. [Link]

The BBC's Robert Peston reports that there are emails that show police were paid tens of thousands of pounds by News International. [BBC Mail]

News of the World is to close, the edition on Sunday 10th July 2011 will be the last.

5th July: Rebekah Brooks writes a letter to staff [Full Statement: BBC, Guardian] Here are three lines from that statement:

  • "I am sickened that these events are alleged to have happened."
  • "It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way."
  • "I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations."

But the story the News Of The World published on 14th April 2002 could seemingly have been sourced from no place other than from Milly Dowler's phone... The story referred to a message from an employment agency left on Milly Dowler's mobile. The editor of the News of the World, when that story was approved, must have asked where that information came from. The Guardian says that the News Of The World even informed the police of this information. [Source: Guardian]

News International now says Rebekah Brooks was on holiday at the time [Source: Guardian].

4th July: Abducted teenager Milly Dowler, who was murdered by Levi Bellfield in 2002, had her voicemail intercepted by News of the World investigators after her abduction, it is claimed by the Guardian. On discovering that the voicemail was full, the investigator then deleted some messages to allow room for new messages, it is alleged, possibly deleting evidence. Milly Dowler's parents are suing News of the World. [Sources: Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, BBC]

June 2011

The Guardian reports [link] that further investigation into the activities of Jonathan Rees is warranted. Rees is described as a 'notorious private investigator' who worked for News International. The suspected victims of Rees, claims the article, include Tony Blair when he was prime minister (ed note: it has been claimed before that Blair didn't have a mobile phone himself when he was PM so it has yet to be established what kind of investigation was attempted on the serving prime minister of the day), Jack Straw when he was Home Secretary, Peter Mandelson when he was Trade Secretary, and Alistair Campbell when he was Blair's media advisor. Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent, it is claimed, had their bank accounts penetrated. Kate Middleton, when she was Prince William's girlfriend, was also an alleged victim. Sir John Stevens and John Yates (who later supervised the first inquiry into phone hacking) were also apparently targeted. The governor and the deputy governor of the Bank of England had their mortgage details acquired and sold, it is claimed.

The timescale for the hacking enquiry now extends to 2001, according to a report on 12th June in the Independent [link]. Andy Gilchrist, former leader of the Fire Brigade Union, was the subject of considerable press attention during the Fire Brigade strike, with stories about his private life making front page news in the News Of The World, while Rebekah Brooks edited it. Gilchrist says he has seen papers from the original Mulcaire files dating back to 2001.

May 2011

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Chris Bryant, Brian Paddick and Brendan Montague get the all clear from a High Court judge for a judicial review. [Guardian]

April 2011

The actor Hugh Grant bugs Paul McMullan (ex News of the World) when they have a conversation. Rebekah Wade is mentioned, as is Andy Coulson.

It is now 8am 18th April 2011 and the BBC still hasn't covered the Hugh Grant expose - here is a copy of a search of the BBC News site taken just now [link]. Not a word. The New Statesman asks if the BBC is scared of Rupert Murdoch?

January 2011

Andy Coulson resigns from Downing Street. Steve Coogan and Andy Gray head to court in an attempt to get more information over their possibly hacked phones. Ian Edmundson, News of the World Assistant Editor (News), is sacked. Unaired comments from Andy Gray are leaked to the press, probably by employees at BSkyB (39% owned by News International) in which he makes sexist comments - has this been done to embarrass him? Andy Gray is sacked after three such leaks. Police launch new investigation into the affair.

Other newspapers may also be involved.

Robert Peston, BBC Business Reporter, reports that Rupert Murdoch is in the UK and is 'hopping mad' about this. There are claims that News International are going to have a thorough investigation into this after all. A concern for Rupert Murdoch is the prospective takeover of 60% of the shares they do not already own in satellite broadcaster BSkyB which may be impossible because of this scandal.

26th January 2011: Scotland Yard receive new evidence and start a new investigation. [source]

December 2010

Lawyers acting for Sienna Miller, in an action against News International, says they have found new evidence in the material seized in August 2006.

September 2010

An article in the New York Times suggests that phone hacking was widely used at the News Of The World. Sean Hoare was the source, he says hacking was 'endemic' and claims that Andy Coulson knew all about it. The Commons Media Select Committee announces another investigation into whether the hacking of politicians phones is contempt of parliament. A former News of the World Executive Paul McMullan says Coulson must have known.

May 2010

British general election leads to a coalition government with the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats forming an alliance. Andy Coulson enters Downing Street as Director of Communications, under Prime Minister David Cameron. Coulson is given full security clearance ("strap one") [Guardian].

April 2010

Dan Evans, a feature writer at the News of the World, is suspended over hacking allegations.

The Guardian reports that Andy Hayman, former Assistant Commissioner at The Metropolitan Police who investigated the phone hacking scandal, is now working as a columnist for The Times, owned by News International who also own News Of the World. (Source)

March 2010

Max Clifford has been paid £1mn to drop court action that would have forced News International to name journalists involved.

February 2010

Commons Media Select Committee says it is 'inconceivable' that Clive Goodman acted alone; it accuses News International of "collective amnesia." News International counter that the select committee did their job with 'innuendo' and 'exaggeration'.

November 2009

The Press Complaints Commission reports it had no evidence it was 'materially misled'. Gordon Taylor's lawyer, Mark Lewis, says he was told by Detective Sergeant Mark Maberly that documents in the Clive Goodman case showed that 6000 people were involved. The PCC failed to get further details from Maberly. [Source]

September 2009

Metropolitan Police said victims included politicians, military and police as well as the royal household.

July 12, 2009: News of the World publishes a full rebuttal of all claims they have been involved in a phone hacking scandal. Link to News of the World here. (Just in case they pull the page down I've copied it here.)

Two parts from this much longer statement, above, said:

"LAST week the News of the World was the subject of some ferocious and, at times, hysterical attacks on its credibility, integrity and journalistic standards.

The onslaught was led by a series of reports in the Guardian newspaper and hastily followed by the BBC, Sky News, and ITN.

The essence of their campaign was that members of our staff have engaged in a widespread and unlawful conspiracy to access "thousands" of mobile phones.

However, as Andy Hayman - a former Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, who headed an exhaustive nine-month inquiry into our journalistic conduct - says today: "My recollection is different."

He adds: "As I recall the list of those targeted, which was put together from records kept by Glen Mulcaire, ran to several hundred names."


"So let us be clear. Neither the police, nor our own internal investigations, has found any evidence to support allegations that News of the World journalists have accessed voicemails of any individuals."


July 2009

Guardian Newspaper front Page July 2009

The Guardian newspaper reveals that Gordon Taylor had been paid £700,000 to drop his legal action which would have forced News International to reveal the names of other journalists involved in the phone hacking. It was also revealed that Rupert Murdoch had a fund for paying off victims who made a complaint. Rebekah Wade and Andy Coulson both ex editors of News of the World were involved.

John Yates of Scotland Yard said on 9 July 2009: "This case has been the subject of the most careful investigation by experienced detectives. No additional evidence has come to light. I therefore consider no further investigation is required."

December 2007

Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman (the officer who was in charge of the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking investigation) resigns following allegations over expense claims and alleged improper conduct with a female member of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and a female Sergeant. (Daily Mail, The Times).

July 2007

Andy Coulson appointed as media advisor to leader of the opposition David Cameron.

May 2007

The Press Complaints Commission publishes a series of recommendations to journalists following the phone hacking and concludes there was no evidence of wrong doing.

January 2007

Clive Goodman pleads guilty, he is jailed for 4 months for conspiracy to access phone messages left by Royals. Glenn Mulcaire is jailed for 6 months on the same charges. Prosecutors say there were only 8 victims. Andy Coulson resigns from News of the World even though he denies any knowledge of the phone hacking.

August 2006

Police arrest News of the World Royal editor Clive Goodman, and Glenn Mulcaire. Their computer records, documents and audio tapes are seized. But no other journalist is interviewed. The Metropolitan Police do not seem to investigate the evidence seized.

May 2006

Detectives tell prosecutors: "a vast number of public figures" have had their voicemail intercepted, traced to private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

November 2005

The News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, publishes a story about Prince William's knee injury. This could only have come from the prince or an aide because it wasn't widely known about. Three royal staff members complain to the police claiming voice mail messages are being intercepted.

March 2003

Rebekah Wade (Brooks) makes an extraordinary admission to a House of Commons Select Committee that the company has paid police for stories in the past. She was editor of The Sun at the time (from January 2003).

April 2003

14th April: The News of the World publishes a story about a voicemail left on Milly Dowler's phone, a missing 13 year old later to be found dead, killed by Levi Bellfield. The story was about a voicemail from an employment agency who called to give her a job. The News of the World then told the police about the call.


April 2002

19th April The Mirror breaks the news that Ulrika Jonsson and England Football Coach Sven Goren Eriksson were having an affair. It is alleged that this story was sourced from phone hacking information. Piers Morgan was the editor of The Mirror at the time, James 'Scottie' Scott, the paper's showbusiness reporter, apparently heard voicemails on Jonsson's phone and, after getting a Swedish speaking secretary to translate it, it was obvious the two were having an affair. After the paper approached the couple they admitted to it. Trinity Mirror says: "Our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct.” [Source: Order-order]

At the Princess Margaret Awards (aka The Shaftas) Dominic Mohan, at the time The Sun's show business editor, made a point that it was appropriate that a mobile phone company (vodafone) should be sponsoring the event. Mohan then went on to thank vodafone's lack of security for The Mirror's show business exclusives. [Ring, ring a story, Guardian]

May 2000

The Mail on Sunday publishes the following expose on 7th May 2000... (Thanks to Steven Nott at for this image - click on it for full article (size: 1600x 1200).

Mail On Sunday


The extraordinary timeline starts in the last century...

October 1999

Steven Nott -
Steven Nott (Picture: BBC)

Is it possible that Steven Nott, left, set the whole Hackergate scandal in motion, after he demonstrated to the tabloids how to hack into mobile phones?

Acting as a concerned citizen after he discovered how easy it was to hack into his own mobile phone, he contacted a number of media outlets including, he says, The Daily Mirror, The Sun and ITV, who all, at first, appeared interested in his story.

He even went to the offices of The Sun to show them how to do it.

Then silence.

His story in his own words is next, but first the story The Argus wrote as he attempted to get the phone hacking story out - dated October 13, 1999... (click to see a bigger version of the article...) followed by the invoice for £100 he received from MGN for his story - dated 20th September 1999... Steve's website is

Steve Nott - Story in Argus 1999
Here it is - the picture of the scandal. Steven Nott's invoice from MGN, owner of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People - for a payment of £100 for his story how to hack into mobile phones.. dated 20/9/1999. Description: 'Mobile Phone Scandal' Priceless. Thanks to Steven Nott for supplying this image.
MGN Invoice, dated 1999, To Steven Nott - Phone Hacking Scandal

My name is Steven Nott, I'm a local South Wales, UK family man.

In 1998 I worked as a Salesman for a local food manufacturer that delivered it's products all over the UK - my main target area was central London and the city.

I was very productive and had a lot of success with the company and on a daily basis received up to 10 new orders per day from customers I'd previously seen. These orders needed to be progressed quickly, phoned in to the office and delivered to the customer within a 3 day turn around so it was imperative I got the orders in on time each day.

During 1998 the Vodafone network had a problem and 'went down' for a few hours. I was driving along the M4 at the time and couldn't get a signal as there was no network available.

After the situation hadn't changed for some hours, I stopped at a service station and decided to make a call to the Network operator Vodafone.

I explained my circumstances and the need to get to my voicemail asap to further my customers' orders. They explained to me that it wasn't a problem and explained to me that I could access my voicemail messages from any other phone, landline or mobile.

They explained to me that once you've called your own mobile number, once you hear "Please leave a message after the tone", the operator said to press 9 and then key in my PIN number. I said the PIN number for my phone? and she said "No, you have a PIN number for your voicemail and as you don't know about it then your's will still be the default 3333." OK. I said to the operator that it all seems a bit 'easy' to access and mentioned the fact that I could do it with anyone's phone then. She said "Yes I could, but I wasn't supposed to" and that's only if the PIN number was set on default. At the time, it was not common knowledge to anyone about PIN numbers for voicemail's. Most people then didn't have a clue. As long as the mobile phone you were calling was switched off or 'busy' then you would be able to access email immediately. If you pestered the person with enough calls, they would switch it off anyway so making the hacking so easy.

I was gob smacked by the way that it was so easy to be able to do this and spent the next couple of months having fun and games with my mates phones, work colleagues phones and so on. I would hack into their voicemail inbox, go into the voicemail settings and do all manner of naughty things. I was changing peoples welcome greetings to " Hi this is Johns Massage Parlour for the ugly", listening to messages, deleting messages after reading them and also I was changing the default PIN number on all of my mates' phones so I could access them in the future and they wouldn't even know I'd done it, obviously just for fun.

Anyway, I was in Cardiff entertaining some customers at a Wales match and showed them the security flaw and they suggested that perhaps I should take it further as it was too important to play around with.

I realised then that OK, maybe they were right and I should do something.

I was in London and made a phone call to the Daily Mirror and explained to them I had a story. They were very interested and after showing them how to 'hack' into the voicemails they said it's possibly going to be one of the biggest stories that decade and would make the front page and couldn't believe how easy it was to do and the fact that nobody knew about it.

I called the Daily Mirror a few times and they kept saying they were working on it and to be patient as it was going to be a massive story.

Two weeks went by, I rang them up and they said they weren't interested anymore. Strange.....

It didn't take me long to realise 'What had I done ?' I couldn't believe I was so stupid to tell a National newspaper how to get hot news for free just by hacking into someone's phone. I was on a campaign to raise public awareness and it was backfiring.

I then contacted Paul Crosbie - Consumer Editor at The Sun newspaper and explained to him about the story but didn't tell him how to do it. He was very curious and called me in for an appointment in Wapping, News International. I met Paul there and explained to him the whole story and the fact that I had told the Mirror newspaper and he was astonished with the whole thing. Firstly, he was gobsmacked and very excited at how it could be done and also shocked that the Daily Mirror had the information from me 2 weeks earlier and said "I can't believe the Mirror would keep something so quiet and I know why now"

Paul asked me to demonstrate how to hack into mobiles and called some colleagues in the office and asked them to not answer the next call so I could call them and show him. Paul Crosbie explained to me that it was a massive story and thanked me for coming to see him and expect the story to be in the paper within 48 hours on the front page. He said I was going to be a public hero.

Guess what..... no news story, not a dickie bird. I couldn't get hold of Paul Crosbie again after the first meeting.

What should I do now ?

I then told the BBC. I was invited into an interview, was filmed on Percy Throwers bench in the Blue Peter Garden and also ended up on Radio 5 Live on a Friday afternoon with a communications spokesperson from Vodafone in Newbury. The radio show aired at approx 1415 hrs October 2nd 1999, the presenter was Adam Kirtley.

Vodafone, in the interview, said they didn't know why I was making such a fuss as it never has and never will cause a problem. How wrong could they have been?

I spoke to MI5 Security Services on the Embankment and they thanked me for the information. I spoke to new Scotland Yard and also wrote and spoke to the DTI in Victoria. I was on a campaign to undo what I hade done. I was on a mission to head up a public awareness campaign and even more so now seeing as I'd told two newspapers how to hack into mobile phones.

I was also interviewed by my local newspaper the South Wales Argus and had a half page spread about security and mobile phone hacking. This was in 1999.

I also spoke to Chris Choi from ITN and he was very excited also about the implications and massive security flaw. I had an ITN news crew at my house the same day and was filmed in my back garden about the story. Chris Choi said it was going to be breaking headlines. Guess what..... nothing happened.

At the time, I was working full time as a sales rep for a local food company and was getting deeply engrossed in trying to 'save the world' and eventually it took it's toll and I ended up having a breakdown.

My father also died in April 2000, I lost my driving licence due to speeding ( 100,000 miles a year ) and everything I think finally made me 'breakdown'.

I am a family man, with wife and 2 daughters. I have had 71 jobs since leaving school.

Even, though I feel like I'm to blame for the whole thing, I still would like some credit for telling everyone and would like to 'put it to bed' for once and for all. I think the public have the right to know that this has been going on a lot longer than people think ie 2005/6 when Goodman and Mulcaire were prosecuted and sent to prison.


One thing I didn't mention that is very important. Once you hacked into someone's voicemail you can change the PIN Number. People are still getting hacked now and will probably never know. Even if their voicemail PIN Number was changed in 1999 by a newspaper journalist they may still have access now if the phone owner has kept the same number. It's a real big problem. Vodafone changed their security settings after about 18 months but that doesn't/didn't stop anyone still accessing and guessing the pin number !!

Here's a list below of everyone I told :

Daily Mirror - who paid me £100 for the story ( from Trinity Mirror Group )

The Sun, Paul Crosbie, Consumer Editor - The Sun. Now owns Crosbie Communications.

BBC Television Centre - interview with Adam Kirtley Radio 5 Live 02/10/99 and Mike Caldwell from Vodafone in Newbury.

Sent a letter to DTI, Victoria. No reply.

Spoke to MI5 Security Services on the Embankment, London. Said thank you for the info.

Wrote a letter to Private Eye magazine FAO Ian Hislop. Adam McQueen liked the story.

A letter to the Daily Mail. No reply.

Wrote to the Daily Express. No reply. 

Wrote to the Financial Times. No reply.

Called Paul Murphy my local MP - he wasn't at all interested.

South Wales Argus - published a half page story. Archived in Newport Library.

In touch with Orange Press office many times to let them know what was happening.

Emailed they were very interested but I rang them 3 days later and said there was nothing they could do. I didn't want the money, just somebody to publish the story and raise the public awareness.

A solicitor for an x MP who has asked if i could attend High Court when it goes to trial.

I recently made a statement to the Metropolitan Police.