IoS Exclusive:

Read all about it: The secret dossier of lawbreaking that spells trouble for Rupert Murdoch...and David Cameron

Rebekah Brooks was among journalists who used a private detective who was later convicted

The
News of the World paid a private detective to provide hundreds of pieces of confidential information, often using illegal means, a confidential document obtained by
The Independent on Sunday has revealed.

The "Blue Book", a ledger of work carried out by Steve Whittamore for News International titles, including the NoW and The Sunday Times, details a series of transactions including obtaining ex-directory phone numbers, telephone accounts, criminal records checks and withheld mobile numbers. It reveals the itemised details of checks on public figures, including Peter Mandelson, ordered and paid for – at up to £750 a time – by reporters working for the redtop. Staff from a number of other national newspapers made similar requests, and their details are contained in further dossiers held by the Information Commissioner, the privacy watchdog.

Among the journalists requesting information from Mr Whittamore, who was later convicted of offences committed under the Data Protection Act, was the former NoW editor Rebekah Wade, now Rebekah Brooks.

The contents of the dossier were collated by the Information Commissioner following a raid on Mr Whittamore's Hampshire office in 2003, but the watchdog has previously refused to disclose its contents, to protect the identities of the people named within it.

The disclosure of the extent to which the NoW and its sister titles used the services of private investigators to obtain personal information by questionable means will add to the controversy threatening to engulf News International (NI), whose bosses have consistently denied any wrongdoing over the affair.

The wide-ranging extent of the phone hacking and other activities could damage NI's share price in the long run – and reduce the fortune of its boss, Rupert Murdoch.

One senior MP last night complained that the list revealed "a widespread and casual law-breaking" among people associated with NI.

But the existence of the Blue Book also threatens further embarrassment for David Cameron, the Prime Minister, who has so far supported Mr Coulson, now his chief spin-doctor. Mr Coulson resigned from the NoW in 2007 after one of his reporters, Clive Goodman, was jailed for tapping into telephone voicemails. Mr Coulson has consistently denied any knowledge of the illegal methods during his term as editor. He was appointed to the top post in January 2003.

However, the issue reignited last week when MPs voted to refer the issue to the powerful Standards and Privileges Committee following fresh allegations about what Mr Coulson really knew. The IoS revealed last week that the mobile-phone details of the former Labour minister Lord Mandelson were among lists of private data seized by police investigating phone hacking by NoW reporters during Mr Coulson's time as editor.

Now, the IoS can reveal that the Blue Book details a list of 1,027 transactions between Mr Whittamore and a client referred to as "Times Sun News of the World". The itemised spreadsheet lists highly confidential details, including the name of the journalist making the order, the service requested and the "target" of their investigation. Subjects include the former boxer Chris Eubank, former Labour minister David Lammy, and a target described simply as "Rooney".

Many of the tasks were carried out for reporters working for other titles in the group, and some would have been for legitimate journalistic investigations. Just 5 per cent – covering credit checks and searches on company directors – were definitely legal, almost 25 per cent were definitely illegal, with the remainder relating mostly to obtaining private addresses, which is a grey area.

Activity that definitely broke the law included tracing people using just a telephone number or vehicle registration, accessing ex-directory telephone numbers, obtaining details of hotel stays and running criminal records checks. Around half of the tasks covered finding out the full addresses of targets, which is illegal if the people involved have chosen to remove themselves from the public register.

The raid on Mr Whittamore's office during "Operation Motorman" in 2003 unearthed records of requests made by journalists for 13,343 different pieces of information. The Information Commissioner subsequently revealed that 305 journalists had been identified as Mr Whittamore's customers, "driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information".

The details were recovered from Mr Whittamore's house in March 2003, less than two months after Mr Coulson had been promoted to editor of the NoW. He had been appointed deputy editor in the summer of 2000.

During his time at the paper, in October 2000, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act modernised telecommunications law, effectively making a number of journalistic methods, including accessing someone's voicemail without permission, illegal.

A former Labour minister, Tom Watson, condemned the decision to keep the contents of the Blue Book secret for so long, and urged fellow MPs to investigate the new developments.

"This list has been kept under wraps and people will be appalled by that," he said. "The discovery of this list, all those years ago, was supposed to end this type of covert surveillance, but nothing happened."

'Blue book' Jargon buster

Breaking the code: Investigators at work

The 'Blue Book' details more than 1,000 transactions between the private investigator Steve Whittamore and News International publications. Each entry details the person making the request, the paper they work for, and the service requested. Here we explain some of the abbreviations and terms of reference and assess their legality:



CCJ Running a credit check, or seeing if a person has a county court judgment against them.

Illegal? No, used by credit firms.



Company Search Finding details of firms and their directors. Illegal? No.



Conv Finding out to whom a telephone number is registered. Illegal? Yes.



CRO Criminal records check. Illegal? Yes.



Dir Running a search on company directors. Illegal? No.



Endorsements Checking points on a driving licence. Illegal? Yes.

F+F Identifying names of Friends and Family phone numbers. Illegal? Yes: requires giving false information.



HPI Running a hire purchase check on a car to establish ownership. Illegal? No.



Mob Conv Finding out to whom a mobile phone number is registered. Illegal? Yes.



T/P Obtaining details of phone bills. Illegal? Yes: requires giving false information.



Veh Reg Establishing ownership of a vehicle from its number plate. Illegal? Yes.



XD Obtaining an ex-directory number. Illegal? Yes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn