Mirror Group journalists accessed the private communications of the BBC’s Alan Yentob in the incorrect belief that he was having an affair with the wife of leading architect Lord Rogers, the High Court heard.
Lady Ruthie Rogers is the co-founder of one of Britain’s most acclaimed restaurants, the River Cafe. She and Lord Rogers have been close friends of Mr Yentob and his long-term partner, Philippa, for 30 years.
According to a statement given to the court by Lady Rogers, which has not been challenged by Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN), a “false and deeply intrusive” story about a “nonsense” relationship, would have had an “appalling and catastrophic” effect on the two families, their friends and business associates.
Details of MGN’s use of private investigators and voicemail interceptions as they pursued details of the non-existent “mistress” story, were described in court documents as a “classic example of the (potentially) disastrous consequences of secretly listening into people’s messages without telling them.”
In day four of the civil action by eight victims of phone hacking against MGN, David Sherborne, counsel for Mr Yentob, said that between 1999 and potentially 2008, the former controller of BBC1 and 2, may have been hacked “tens of thousands of times” by journalists across all three of MGN’s national titles – the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and The People.
Mr Sherborne said Mr Yentob was “one of Britain’s biggest media figures” and as a result had a “valuable address book”.
Mr Yentob’s voicemails, the court heard, would “build up” throughout any given day and was an “Aladdin’s Cave” for those hacking into his messages for stories.
Mr Yentob is due to appear in the witness box tomorrow.Reuse content