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
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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