News of the World asked reporters to 'dig dirt on MPs', claims book

 

The News of the World ordered its reporters to dig up dirt on the private lives of MPs on a committee investigating the phone hacking scandal as part of a campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News International to thwart their inquiries, a new book on the saga claims.

The News of the World ordered it reporters to dig up dirt on the private lives of MPs on a committee investigating the phone hacking scandal as part of a campaign by Rupert Murdoch’s News International to thwart their inquiries, a new book on the saga claims.

Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter on the defunct Sunday tabloid, said that in 2009 an “edict” was delivered from a senior member of editorial staff to find out “every single thing” about the members of the House of Common’s media select committee and that a team of six journalists was established to carry out the operation.

Mr Thurlbeck, who has been arrested in connection with phone hacking, said: “An edict came down... and it was [to] find out every single thing you can about every single member: who was gay, who had affairs, anything we can use.”

The incendiary claim that the paper at the heart of the voicemail interception revelations that have tainted the Murdoch empire set out to undermine MPs investigating it is contained in Dial M for Murdoch, a book about the scandal by Labour MP Tom Watson, a member of the media committee and key campaigner on phone hacking, and Martin Hickman, an award-winning journalist on The Independent.

At a Westminster launch of the title, Mr Watson said News Corporation was a “toxic institution” and that the allegedcampaign intimidation had been successful and was part of a wider attempt to cover up the hacking scandal by the Murdoch empire.  He said: “I am sorry to say that this tactic was successful, the committee’s legitimate investigation was undermined and Parliament was, in effect, intimidated.

“News International thought they could do this, that they could get away with it, that no-one could touch them; and they actually did it, and it worked.”

He added: “We conclude that the web of influence which News Corporation spun in Britain, which effectively bent politicians, police and many others in public life to its will, amounted to a shadow state.”

In further allegations, the book claims:

:: The office of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was being bugged in June 2011, shortly before she resigned following the revelation that the NOTW had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

:: On his release from prison, Glenn Mulcaire, the convicted hacker at the centre of the story, allegedly went to work for a private security consultancy headed by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner.

:: New International ran an e-mail server at its Wapping headquarters where emails deleted from its main server were stored.  The alleged existence of this server was revealed to Mr Watson, who passed this information to Scotland Yard in 2010.

:: Mr Watson was approached by alleged intermediaries from NI with a “deal” in which they would “give him” former NOTW editor and Downing Street press chief Andy Coulson but that Ms Brooks was “sacred”. The same intermediaries are said to have  offered the MP a meeting with Rupert Murdoch, who was said to want to “square off these difficulties and put matters right”. Mr Watson says he refused the deal.

For extracts from the book see tomorrow's Independent

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition