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

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Year 5 Teacher

£80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album