Hugh and Jemima caught in tabloids' phone-tapping net

Dozens of other celebrities may have been bugged too, police reveal
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The Independent Online

Hugh Grant, Jemima Khan, Keira Knightley and John Leslie were named last night as the latest victims of illegal phone hacking.

The names emerged as police, initially investigating the suspected interception of phone messages intended for Prince William, widened their investigation to take in dozens of high-profile public figures who have fallen victim to the practice known as "phone screwing".

Clive Goodman, the News of the World's royal editor, is due to appear in court on Wednesday charged with a string of offences relating to intercepted voicemail messages.

The News of the World attempted to damp down the controversy on Friday, announcing that Mr Goodman had been suspended pending the outcome of the court case.In some respects, Mr Goodman can be considered unlucky. According to media sources, phone hacking has long been common practice in Fleet Street, and hundreds of tabloid journalists may yet become caught up in the investigation.

Detectives launched the inquiry after members of Prince Charles's staff reported a possible security breach, but one former tabloid editor told The Independent on Sunday that the investigation has already spread far beyond its initial focus. "Dozens of recent exclusives come from illegal tapping. I understand that there are 250 other journalists involved in this investigation," he said.

Senior NoW editorial executives may also face questioning, and anti-terrorist police may seek a warrant to search the paper's records in an attempt to find details of payments to the alleged phone tappers, according to the journalists' trade magazine Press Gazette. Many tabloid scoops are believed to have originated with or to have been confirmed by illegally accessed phone messages. David Blunkett, the former home secretary, became concerned that his phone was tapped following the News of the World's reports of his affair with Kimberly Quinn. Boris Johnson and Petronella Wyatt are also thought to have been victims.

The TV presenter John Leslie discovered that his voicemail had been accessed by reporters during media revelations concerning his personal life, said James Herring of Taylor Herring PR.

"When he was in the middle of the media storm he found he couldn't access messages. He thought his phone had had a meltdown under the pressure of all the calls, but a journalist had actually gone into the phone and changed the settings so that only he could access messages," he said. "We advise clients that if they need to have an important conversation, do not have it on the mobile."

Media sources have said that tapped voicemails also led to news of Keira Knightley's relationship with actor Rupert Friend.

One ex-tabloid journalist said it was "routine" to hack into mobile voicemails, especially to confirm "kiss and tell" stories.

TAP VICTIMS

Keira Knightley

Relationship with actor Rupert Friend revealed

Boris Johnson

Phone-tappers may have discovered MP's affair

Prince William

Voicemails being hacked led to current investigation

John Leslie

Phone settings illegally changed by hackers