MP calls for editor of The Sun to be quizzed on hacking

News International denies claims of phone-hacking contagion

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The Independent Online

It is "only a matter of time" before The Sun becomes the next Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper to become implicated in voicemail interception, a leading campaigner on the phone-hacking scandal said yesterday.

The editor of The Sun should be asked if his title had any involvement with the illegal practices of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator employed by its now-defunct sister paper the News of the World to hack the voicemails of public figures and victims of crime, the Labour MP Tom Watson demanded.

Mr Watson said Dominic Mohan, who has been in charge of The Sun since 2009 and briefly worked for the NOTW in the 1990s, used to joke about poor security at mobile phone provider Vodafone. Earlier this month, the MP also asked a former News International lawyer in a Commons select committee hearing if he accepted that the words "The Sun" were written on Mulcaire's phone-hacking records.

"Do you really think hacking only happened on the News of the World? Ask the editor of The Sun if he thinks Rupert Murdoch's contagion has spread to other newspapers," Mr Watson, a former junior defence minister, told an emergency debate at the Labour conference in Liverpool.

"Ask him, and if he gives you an honest answer, he will tell you that it is only a matter of time before we find The Sun in the evidence file of the convicted private investigator that hacked Milly Dowler's phone." Scotland Yard has so far arrested 16 people in connection with Operation Weeting, its investigation into phone hacking at the News Of The World.

It also emerged last night that the News of the World's former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck is to take his former employers to an employment tribunal, claiming he was a whistleblower. News International said: "We will vigorously contest this case."

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, who was arrested in July on suspicion of conspiring to intercept voicemails and make corrupt payments to police officers, has insisted that The Sun was a "clean ship" when she edited the title between 2003 and 2009.

The actor Jude Law has filed a phone-hacking complaint against The Sun, alleging that four articles published by the paper between 2005 and 2006 were based on material obtained from his mobile phone during her editorship.

Law is the first public figure to bring a civil damages claim for phone hacking against The Sun. News International denied the claim, describing it as a "cynical and deliberately mischievous" attempt to drag the paper into the hacking saga.

In a statement, the company said: "The allegations made in this claim have been carefully investigated by our lawyers and the evidence shows that they have no foundation whatsoever."

Mr Watson also turned on James Murdoch, calling for him to stand down from the board of BSkyB and describing News International as a company "sick" with corruption and criminality.

In a statement, News International said: "If Mr Watson has specific information he should immediately hand it to the police and we urge him to do so. We are not aware of any evidence that The Sun engaged in activity as suggested by Mr Watson."

* Ian Edmondson, 51, the former assistant editor in charge of news at the News Of The World, yesterday had his police bail extended until March next year. He was arrested in April on suspicion of conspiracy to intercept voicemails.

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