Revealed: Wapping computers 'shredded' last year

Machines were 'taken out and smashed up' despite mounting evidence of hacking

Computers used by members of the News of the World staff were
destroyed by putting them "through a grinder" last autumn at a time
when News International was being sued for phone hacking and new
questions were being asked about the extent of illegal news
gathering at the Sunday tabloid, a court has heard.

The equipment, including most computers used by employees at the now-closed title, were "taken out and smashed up" during a phased move from NI's Wapping headquarters in east London to a nearby office building at Thomas More Square.

The shredding of hard drives would have happened long after senior NOTW executives were made aware that phone hacking had spread beyond a single "rogue" reporter. In a legal opinion submitted to the paper in 2008, its own QC Michael Silverleaf warned that there was also "overwhelming evidence" that senior journalists had made "illegal enquiries".

It is understood that NI regards the decision to destroy the computers to have been part of a routine updating of the company's computing hardware. Key documents, including internal emails, are understood to have been backed up and preserved on remote servers.

Jeremy Reed, the barrister representing a number of phone-hacking victims who have been selected as test cases in civil damages claims to be heard in January, told a pre-trial hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London that the destruction of the computers meant that the only NOTW computer still existing from prior to last autumn belonged to the showbusiness reporter Dan Evans.

Mr Evans was sued along with News Group Newspapers, publishers of the now-closed Murdoch tabloid, by the fashion designer Kelly Hoppen over the interception of messages left on her phone between 2004 and 2006.

The disclosure of the computer destruction came as Mr Justice Vos, the judge presiding over the civil claims, threw out an attempt by NI to limit the amount of damages that could be awarded against the company.

Mr Silverleaf, appearing yesterday for Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper company, said the damages cases risked going over much of the material that will be heard by the ongoing Leveson Inquiry into press standards and that airing the same information risked amounting to a "witchhunt" or "crusade" against NI.

Judge Vos rejected the claim, saying the cases being brought by claimants, including the actor Jude Law and the Labour MP Chris Bryant, were about deciding "the damages you must fairly pay".

The court was told that evidence had also emerged that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator used by the NOTW to carry out phone hacking, was also involved in "pinging" or tracking the location of mobile phones. Hugh Tomlinson QC, the lead counsel for hacking victims, said Mr Mulcaire was apparently charging £300 to carry out the technique whose use is restricted to police and the security services.

Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn