Fact File: Phone Hacking


From the first whispers of illegal practice at the News of the World in 2006, has grown a scandal large enough to engulf the Metropolitan Police, the entire British political establishment and a globe-straddling media conglomerate.

News International, the UK subsidiary of News Corporation, initially insisted phone hacking was practised by only one “rogue reporter”. By late 2010, this defence had fallen apart as ex-NoW journalist Sean Hoare  backed claims made by the Guardian that hacking was widespread. When Murdoch closed the News of the World – an unthinkable act only months earlier – it seemed the scandal had finally reached its dramatic finale. In fact, it had barely begun.

July 2011 saw a raft of resignations including Rebekah Brooks and the Met’s most senior police officer, while News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch faced MP questions (and a cream pie) at a select committee hearing. He called it “the most humble day of my life”, but as the story that won’t die continues to snowball, his assessment looks premature.

The Numbers

15 – Journalists and other News International employees arrested in connection with hacking from 2006 to March 2012. Source: BBC News UK

£1m - Estimated amount paid out by News International in hacking-related settlements. Source: The Guardian

5795 – Number of people who have had their phones hacked by the News of the World, according to Met estimates from November 2011. Source: BBC News UK

2,226 – Number of times Glenn Mulcaire was asked to hack phones by NoW journalists. Source: BBC News UK

 Further Reading

1. Now is the moment to stop Murdoch, Matthew Norman, The Independent, 2011

2. News International and Phone Hacking, Tom Watson, 2012

3. Voicemail hacking: How easy is it? Jacob Aron, New Scientist, 2011

4. News of the World’s last breath: put the handkerchiefs aside, Roy Greenslade, the Guardian, 2011

5. Scandal and Scrutiny Hem In Murdoch’s Empire, Amy Chozick, The New York Times, 2012


Aug 2006 – Police arrest NoW royal editor, Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for phone hacking, after the royal family report suspicions.

Jan 2007 – Andy Coulson resigns as NoW editor and is appointed director of communications for the Conservative party four months later.

Sept 2010 – Ex-NoW reporter Sean Hoare tells the BBC that phone hacking was “endemic” at the paper.

Jan 2011 – Coulson resigns from his post at Number 10, citing press attention to the hacking scandal.

April 2011 – Three former NoW journalists are arrested on suspicion of hacking

July 2011 – The Guardian alleges that NoW hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, leading to the paper’s closure.

July 2011 – News Corporation withdraws its bid for full ownership of BskyB.

July 2011 – Rebekah Brooks resigns her role as chief executive at News International and is later arrested on suspicion of conspiring to hack phones and corruption.

Nov 2011 – Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry, the actor Hugh Grant accuses the Mail on Sunday of hacking his phone. The paper denies the claim