Exclusive: Rupert Murdoch accused of targeting Labour staff in dirty tricks campaign

News International settles hacking claims with officials close to Blair government

News International is accused of having engaged in systematic political dirty tricks against the former Labour government by hacking the phones of party workers inside key offices.

The publisher has recently settled a hacking claim with Amanda Ramsay, who was targeted at a time she worked in the office of Labour whip Graham Stringer MP. The agreement follows other settlements with other Labour party workers Hilary Perrin, the former regional organiser for London, and Joan Hammell, who was targeted while working as a special adviser to John Prescott.

Ms Ramsay said she believes she was targeted by the News of the World because her job meant that she frequently had discussions with and socialised with Labour ministers. Her private data, including the address and phone number of her parents, was found by police in notebooks listing the personal information of hacking victims of the Sunday tabloid, which was closed by Rupert Murdoch in 2011.

Ms Ramsay, who is hoping to stand as a Labour MP for Bristol South in the next general election, would not discuss details of her settlement, but The Independent understands from separate sources outside of her legal team that the company paid her in excess of £20,000 in compensation.

The settlement comes as News International (NI) is due to attend a case management hearing at the High Court in London on Friday at which the company is expected to make a series of apologies to victims with whom it has settled civil claims over hacking.

In total, almost 250 claims have been settled. NI announced last week that a compensation scheme set up to hear claims without going to court would close on 8 April, having so far settled 60 out of 254 claims. 

Ms Ramsay told The Independent she suspected she had been hacked as part of a more systematic policy of targeting Labour party officials in order to discredit the party at a time when it was in Government. “I don’t know if it was dirty tricks or a fishing exercise for anyone in the Labour Party that had a bit of a personality,” she said. “I was working for Graham Stringer MP who was a government whip when Tony Blair was Prime Minister.”

Ms Ramsay, who now lives in Bristol, said she felt more betrayed because she was a well-known figure in Westminster media circles, having previously worked as an assistant in the offices of the political teams of The Times and the London Evening Standard.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police Operation Weeting team have shown her paperwork revealing she was targeted between 2001 and 2004. “It was eerie. There were loads of phone numbers – my home landline, my parents’ landline, the work number at the House of Commons and the London borough where I was a councillor,” she said. “That was the most scary thing, seeing that kind of personal data on a piece of paper with a stranger’s handwriting – it makes you feel really violated.”

She felt more vulnerable because her mobile went missing from her desk at the Commons at the same time, although she has no evidence that this was linked to the accessing of her voicemails. “My phone was stolen and I had loads of high-profile people in there – cabinet members and their home phone numbers. You have all these numbers because a whip has to be able to get hold of people day and night, especially if you are in government.”

An NI Group Ltd spokesman said: “We have been keen from the beginning to settle these cases with minimum delay and minimum stress for all involved.”

Vote on Puttnam Plan shows Lords backing for Leveson

The film producer Lord Puttnam has managed to send a powerful signal to the Prime Minister of the strength of support within Westminster for implementing the proposals of the Leveson inquiry for reform of the press.

The producer of Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields put forward amendments to the Defamation Bill which included plans for a new arbitration service to  hear libel cases, along lines suggested by Lord Leveson in his report. In a vote in the House of Lords last night, the amendments were carried by 272 votes to 141. The bill receives its next reading on 25 February.

Cross-party talks on the response to Leveson have struggled to find a consensus and will resume next Monday. Conservatives believe that the judge’s proposals can be met by way of a Royal Charter, without recourse to statute, and have promised to produce a draft document to that effect in the coming week.

Ian Burrell

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?