IoS Exclusive

Minister embroiled in hacking row over voicemail messages

The controversy over the News of the World is re-opened with new claims about the then media minister and Boris Johnson – and now footballer Sol Campbell is contacting the police

The Government has been asked to confirm that the voicemail messages of a cabinet minister were the subject of attempts at illegal hacking.

The Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne has tabled a question in the House of Commons asking the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to admit that an investigator working for the News of the World eavesdropped on messages left on the mobile phone of Tessa Jowell when she was Secretary of State at the DCMS. In January 2007, Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, and Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal reporter, were convicted of hacking into the voicemails of Princes William and Harry, but News International has always maintained these were rogue episodes.

Mr Huhne's question asks Ben Bradshaw, the current incumbent at the DCMS, "what discussions [his] predecessor had in 2006 with the Metropolitan Police regarding their inquiry into the hacking of her mobile telephone by Glenn Mulcaire on behalf of the News of the World newspaper, and to inquire what assistance, if any, was given". It builds on suspicions that illegal activity was more widespread at the paper than has hitherto been admitted. During the trial, the names of five other public figures were cited, but suspicions have persisted that the police had evidence of further hacking, including that of government ministers.

Speaking to The Independent on Sunday last night, Mr Huhne said: "I believe there has been much more hacking of phones beyond the hacking of royal mobiles, for which Goodman and Mulcaire were convicted. Ministers should come forward if they have been told that it is likely their phones have been hacked. The NoW has always said this was a bad apple in the newsroom, but if hacking is proved to have extended to such a senior victim, it would suggest this must have been known at the highest level of the newspaper."

At the time of the hacking, Ms Jowell's private life was the subject of press scrutiny because her husband, David Mills, was under investigation for having accepted a bribe from the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The suggestion that the cabinet minister with responsibility for the media might have been unlawfully scrutinised by one of its outlets would mark a new departure in the story. Ms Jowell has declined to comment.

The possibility of so senior a figure having her voicemails intercepted will throw further attention on to David Cameron's head of communications, Andy Coulson, who was editor of the News of the World at the relevant time. Mr Coulson has told the Commons culture, media and sport select committee that he knew nothing about any illegal activity. Indeed, there is evidence that his own mobile phone was hacked.

In a further development, the footballer Sol Campbell has instructed his solicitor to contact the police in connection with possible hacking of his voicemails during the period when Mulcaire was invoicing the News of the World for his services. Campbell was the subject of much media scrutiny during that period, partly over his personal relationships and partly because he aroused discussion when he substituted himself at halftime in a Premiership game. He believes there is evidence that his privacy may have been breached and has set in train the process under which the police are obliged to inform those inquiring about any evidence of wrongdoing against them that the police might have found while compiling evidence against Goodman and Mulcaire.

And a spokesman for the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has confirmed earlier suggestions that he was contacted by police at the time of the trial – when he was an MP and shadow minister – and was told they had reason to believe his phone might have been hacked into, but did not have sufficient evidence to prove it. The police said Mr Johnson "should go on the assumption that he had [had his phone hacked]".

These developments come as the Commons select committee finalises its report on press standards and privacy. Last month, the Press Complaints Commission dismissed claims made in The Guardian that illegal practices were widespread at the News of the World, but conceded that the paper had revealed a "significant" new fact, namely that the News of the World had settled a legal action brought by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, for "a large amount of money" after his mobile phone had been targeted.

Matt Driscoll, formerly a sports reporter on the NoW who was awarded nearly £800,000 in compensation after a tribunal heard that he had been bullied by executives on the paper, has told The Independent on Sunday that he was mystified when a big story about Sol Campbell, whom he regarded as one of his close contacts, appeared in the paper without his knowledge.

How the story unfolded

November 2005

Prince William suspects his voicemail intercepted after stories appear in the NoW. Police informed.

November 2006

Clive Goodman pleads guilty to conspiracy to intercept phone messages, along with Glenn Mulcaire.

January 2007

Goodman is sentenced to four months, Mulcaire to six. Andy Coulson resigns as editor of the NoW.

June 2007

Coulson appointed as David Cameron's director of communications.

July 2009

The Guardian alleges phone-hacking was more widespread than thought.

September 2009

Media select committee holds an inquiry into the Guardian's allegations. Coulson says he had no knowledge of any illegal activity.

November 2009

PCC dismisses the Guardian claims after conducting its own investigation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
News
people
Travel
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
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

KS2 Teacher with SEN responsibilities

£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Luton: KS2 teacher with SEN responsibi...

Administrative Assistant

£60 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Administrative Assitant Hertford...

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

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
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments