Police probe Times email hacking claim

 

Police are investigating allegations of email hacking at The Times.

Labour MP Tom Watson has received a letter from Scotland Yard informing him that the newspaper is being investigated after admitting that one of its reporters tried to access a private account.

The Times named Lancashire detective Richard Horton as the author of the award-winning NightJack blog in June 2009 after the High Court refused to grant him anonymity.

James Harding, the paper's editor, told the Leveson inquiry last month that one of his reporters - named as Patrick Foster - was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct for gaining unauthorised access to Mr Horton's email account.

In a further letter to the inquiry, Mr Harding said: "When the reporter informed his managers that, in the course of his investigation, he had on his own initiative sought unauthorised access to an email account, he was told that if he wanted to pursue the story he had to use legitimate means to do so.

"He did, identifying the person at the heart of the story using his own sources and information publicly available on the internet.

"On that basis we made the case in the High Court that the newspaper should be allowed to publish in the public interest. After the judge ruled that we could publish in the public interest, we did."

Mr Foster has since left the newspaper, Mr Harding said.

In a letter to the Metropolitan Police last month, Mr Watson - a long-term campaigner on the hacking issue - urged officers to examine whether a crime had been committed and whether the court had been given the full facts.

"In an attempt to protect his privacy, the police officer in question sought an injunction," the MP wrote. "Far from putting forward a public interest defence, lawyers representing The Times claimed that the information was obtained through entirely legitimate means...

"I must ask that you investigate computer hacking at The Times."

A letter from Detective Superintendent John Levett to Mr Watson, published on the MP's website, said: "I write to reassure you that the concerns raised within your letters are under investigation and officers from Operation Tuleta are dealing directly with the victim."

A Met spokesman said: "We can confirm that a letter was received on Monday January 23 from MP Tom Watson.

"Officers from Operation Tuleta are in contact with Mr Watson in relation to specific issues he wishes to raise and we are not prepared to give a running commentary on the Tuleta investigation."

A spokeswoman for The Times declined to comment.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works