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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Copywriter / Direct Response Copywriter

£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...

Recruitment Genius: Accounting Technician

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...

Guru Careers: 3D Creative Designer

Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Website Digital Marketing Manager - Fashion / Retail

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen