Phone-hacking files are passed to prosecutors

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard detectives passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service last night containing "new material" about the alleged widespread culture of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Prosecutors will now consider the material and decide whether to bring charges against reporters or executives who worked at the newspaper. Clive Goodman, the paper's former royal correspondent, was jailed for phone hacking in January 2007. Former editor Andy Coulson – now David Cameron's director of communications – had said Goodman was a solo "rogue reporter".

The decision to pass the file to the CPS comes despite the fact that Scotland Yard officers have not arrested anyone since the investigation was reopened in September. It is not known how many individuals the Metropolitan Police has gathered new evidence on – if any. But the force has interviewed four people under caution since the investigation was reopened and the new material relates to their statements.

Sean Hoare, a former reporter who told The New York Times that he had hacked into mobile phone voicemails during Mr Coulson's tenure as editor of the newspaper, is one of them. He was questioned in September. It is not known who the other three are.

Paul McMullan, a features executive who worked on the paper under Mr Coulson, has made similar claims. Police have attempted to interview him under caution but he has refused for fear of incriminating himself, although he is prepared to be interviewed as a witness. Mr Coulson was interviewed by detectives earlier this month, but this was as a witness rather than under caution.

The phone-hacking story appeared to have ended with the arrest and prosecution of Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator whom the News of the World paid £2,000 a week, in January 2007. But it was reignited this year amid suggestions that the practice was more widespread.

A New York Times article quoted named and unnamed sources saying that tapping of celebrities' voicemails was rife at the newspaper under Mr Coulson's tenure. Since then several newspaper reports and documentaries have included similar claims from former News of the World employees.

There have been allegations that the police had failed to investigate properly whether there were other journalists involved in the practices, and claims that many celebrities whose phones had been hacked were never told. When police searched Mulcaire's office they found files which included 4,332 names, 2,978 mobile numbers and 91 PIN numbers. But not all of these people were alerted.

Brian Paddick, a former deputy assistant commissioner with the Met, and the MP Chris Bryant are taking legal action claiming that they should have been warned that their phones were at risk of being hacked. Last night a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that it had "provided a file to the Crown Prosecution Service relating to new material in connection with phone hacking". A CPS spokeswoman confirmed it had received the file. News International declined to comment.