Murdoch's rivals in City may be victims of phone hacking - Crime - UK - The Independent

Murdoch's rivals in City may be victims of phone hacking

 

Commercial espionage became a possible motive for phone hacking today after a top City PR firm said attempts may have been made to access the voicemails of executives who were advising on media takeovers.

Citigate Dewe Rogerson has been told that three executives may have fallen victim to the practice in 2005 and 2006, at the height of the News of the World's campaign of illegal phone hacking.

At the time the PR firm, one of the biggest in the City, was dealing with Virgin Media's merger with the cable TV company NTL with the aim of challenging Rupert Murdoch's dominance in pay TV.

Mr Murdoch's News Corp, which has a controlling stake in Sky TV, closed the News of the World last year in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Confirming the potential intrusion, a spokesman for Citigate said: "We were told by our mobile provider around 18 months ago that police were investigating allegations that between 2005 and 2006 attempts by unauthorised parties may have been made to hack into three of our company mobile phones.

"We sought further details from the police but there has been no recent follow-up by them."

The spokesman said there was no evidence that Operation Weeting, the Metropolitan Police inquiry into phone hacking, was actively pursuing the Citigate allegation.

However the possibility that messages intended for City figures were intercepted could change the public perception of the hacking scandal. Until now, the assumption had been that the News of the World eavesdropped voicemails only to find stories.

Given that some targets were government media ministers and leading business figures, it is now possible that News Corporation's wider corporate interests were at play too.

In the mid-2000s, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin's founder, and Mr Murdoch fell out over Virgin's attempts to move into television.

Sir Richard revealed last year that police had told him his phone may have been hacked by the News of the World. His right-hand man, Will Whitehorn, Virgin Group's corporate affairs director, is also thought to have been targeted.

Sir Richard has so far remained silent on the hacking, except to say that it was worrying, but in 2006 – after he had been thwarted by BSkyB from buying ITV – he told the Daily Telegraph: "All of us know governments are scared stiff of Murdoch."

As the scandal deepened yesterday, the Independent on Sunday revealed that a report for Trinity Mirror shareholders had found that phone hacking was "systemic" at its national newspapers. The report said six reporters from the Daily Mirror and People were said to have regularly used the technique.

Sir Brian Leveson will issue his report on the press next month. He is expected to recommend some form of statutory newspaper regulation.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week