Leveson inquiry in brief: Times 'hacked police blogger'; BBC used investigators; Murdoch vetoed Patten book


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The Independent Online

The Times was reported to police yesterday for alleged computer hacking and perjury arising from its identification of an anonymous blogger.

Labour MP Tom Watson wrote to ask the head of the Metropolitan Police inquiry into phone hacking, Sue Akers, for an investigation. The Times admitted at the Leveson Inquiry last that week executives knew a reporter had hacked into the emails of Detective Constable Richard Horton at Lancashire Police prior to identifying him in June 2009.

The article was published a day after the High Court threw out DC Horton's attempt to retain his anonymity after The Times said it had unmasked him as a result of journalistic detective work.

BBC used investigators

The BBC spent £310,000 on private detectives over six years, the Leveson Inquiry heard yesterday.

The corporation's director-general, Mark Thompson, said that investigators were hired 232 times by the BBC between January 2005 and July 2011 – and in one case the BBC used Steve Whittamore, who was later convicted of illegally accessing personal data.

He was commissioned to find out whether a paedophile had boarded a flight to Heathrow Airport, which Mr Thompson said was "justified in the public interest". Another investigator was used to find the identity of a car owner whose vehicle had been used by a suspect in a serious criminal conspiracy.

Murdoch vetoed Patten book

Rupert Murdoch blocked a book criticising China because he wanted to maintain good relations with the authorities in Beijing, its author Lord Patten told the Leveson Inquiry yesterday.

Lord Patten said that Stuart Proffitt, an editor at News Corporation's publishing arm HarperCollins, lost his job after he stood up for Lord Patten's account of his time serving as the final governor of Hong Kong.

"Plainly, Mr Murdoch took the view that publishing a book which was critical of the Chinese leadership would not improve his chances, so he instructed HarperCollins to drop the book on the grounds that it was no good," he told the Leveson Inquiry.