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
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album