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.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Sport
footballBut the Newcastle United midfielder's news has 'left his mistress furious'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style