Phone hacking: police uncover more evidence

Prescott named on new list of potential victims as police admit failings in the investigation

Scotland Yard last night admitted the discovery of new potential victims of the phone-hacking scandal, opening the way to a wave of further damaging privacy claims by politicians and celebrities against Rupert Murdoch's News International.

In the first sign that the new Metropolitan Police investigation into voicemail hacking at the News of the World is trying to right the failures of its much-criticised predecessor, the officer in charge of the inquiry revealed that new "links" had been found between existing evidence and internal emails handed to police last month by Mr Murdoch's newspaper group.

"Urgent steps" are being taken to inform the new group, all of whom were previously told by the Met that there was "little or no information" held about them on files seized in 2006 from the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

Police showed John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, evidence suggesting that he was targeted in April 2006, the month he admitted to having an affair with his diary secretary Tracey Temple. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, who is leading the new inquiry, briefed him about the case.

In a statement, Mr Prescott said: "She informed me that significant new evidence relating to phone hacking and myself had been discovered and that they were investigating it. I think this proves my long-held belief that the original Met Police investigation into Mulcaire and News International was completely inadequate and failed to follow all the evidence."

Files containing the names and personal details of thousands of individuals were kept by Mulcaire, who was used by the NOTW and jailed in 2007 for listening to the voicemails of aides to Prince William. But civil litigants, such as the actress Sienna Miller, have been forced to go to court to obtain details of the alleged hacking.

In an apparent admission that the initial police investigation, headed by Deputy Commissioner John Yates, had failed to inform all victims of hacking, Ms Akers said: "We are determined to ensure we conduct a robust and thorough investigation... We will be as open as we can be and will show [victims] all the information we hold about them."

Although the Yard declined to discuss how many new potential victims had been identified, her statement that they form an "important and immediate new line of inquiry" will add to News International's headaches.

The newspaper group already faces lawsuits from at least a dozen celebrities, ranging from Ms Miller to the former Sky pundit Andy Gray, and has paid nearly £2m to settle privacy claims from Max Clifford and from Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

In 2009, police disclosed that the material seized from Mulcaire's home included 4,332 names or partial names of people; 2,978 mobile phone numbers; 30 audio tapes which appear to contain recordings of voicemail messages; and 91 PIN codes which had changed from the default manufacturer settings.

Solicitor Mark Lewis, who represents some alleged victims, had accused the Met of being "deliberately obstructive" by making them apply for evidence through the courts.

The Labour MP Chris Bryant said: "It's scandalous that the only reason there is this new avenue of investigation is that Sienna Miller got the court to force the Met to release the information they gathered from Mulcaire relating to her all those years ago.

"Until now, it has been the victims that have had to do the investigative work, so it's a welcome development that the police have finally taken on their responsibility."

The Labour backbencher Tom Watson said: "It's shocking to learn that some victims were misinformed, but reassuring that the new team on the case at the Met appear to be getting on top of the investigation."

The latest development in the four-year saga has arisen directly from the decision last month by News International to hand over to detectives an unspecified number of emails following the sacking of Ian Edmondson, the head of news at the NOTW who was employed by Andy Coulson, the paper's editor at the time of the royal hacking scandal.

The dismissal of Mr Edmondson, who has denied any wrongdoing, coincided with the abandonment by News International of its stance that voicemail hacking at the NOTW was restricted to a single "rogue" reporter, the royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed with Mulcaire in 2007.

Sources have indicated there is every sign that the new officers assigned to the case are taking a robust approach. The Yard's new statement appears to tally with that: "Having begun an analysis of the documents seized in 2005 alongside the new evidence, the team have been able to make some links not previously identified.

"As a result, the team have also identified individuals who were previously advised there was little or no information held by the Met relating to them within the case papers and exhibits and this is being reviewed.

"At this stage, there is no evidence to suggest their voicemails were hacked but this will be an important and immediate new line of inquiry."

News International declined to comment.

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London