Military figures furious at claims soldiers' families were hacked

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The Independent Online

The slew of revelations about fresh potential victims of hacking continued yesterday, with the latest names to emerge those of families of soldiers killed in Iraq.

The claims of hacking of military families by the newspaper led to immediate repercussions with the Royal British Legion saying it was severing all fund-raising connections with the News of the World. News International, which trumpets that it produces the papers "which supports our boys", was accused of hypocrisy by members of the armed forces. However, no cases of hacking have been confirmed yet.

Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army who is now a Tory peer, said: "If what we are hearing is true, then they really have been plumbing the depths."

Scotland Yard is believed to be investigating whether the telephone calls of Johnson Beharry, the soldier who won the Victoria Cross in Iraq for his bravery, were secretly hacked by the NOTW. Lance Corporal Beharry's name was among those raised with the Ministry of Defence as among possible targets for illicit surveillance by investigators working for the tabloid.

The families of Second Lieutenant Joanna Yorke Dyer, a friend of Prince William, who was killed in Iraq, and Major Alex Roberts, his mentor at Sandhurst who died in Afghanistan, may also have had their private conversations tapped, according to sources.

In a further development, police told the father of Captain James Philippson, who was the first soldier to be killed in Afghanistan's Helmand Province, that they were setting up a new team to investigate allegations that journalists broke into email accounts.

Anthony Philippson said he believes his son's Hotmail account was illegally accessed in the days after he died in June 2006. "This is apparently the first instance they have heard of where an email account was hacked," he said.

One Whitehall official said: "The common denominator is that these were all high-profile cases deemed to be of media interest. The investigation is being led entirely by the Metropolitan Police and they will ascertain what, if anything, happened."

The mother of Grenadier Guardsman Jamie Janes, 20, who became the focus of an exclusive in The Sun when the then prime minister Gordon Brown misspelt her son's name in his letter of condolence, said she had contacted the Metropolitan Police, afraid she might have been a victim. Jacqui Janes said: "I think it's highly likely due to everything that went on with Gordon Brown but I don't know for sure. Do war heroes not have human rights?"