The anatomy of a scandal that refuses to go away

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Indy Politics

Q. What is the source of the original phone hacking claims?

A. Evidence of illegal hacking emerged during the Metropolitan Police investigation into Clive Goodman, the News of the World's royal correspondent, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator. Both admitted conspiracy to intercept royal voicemail messages and were sentenced at the Old Bailey in 2007. Goodman was jailed for four months and Glenn Mulcaire received six months.

Q. Who else was named in the case?

A. The charges related to three members of the royal household, but the investigation found that targets for tapping may have included public figures. Mulcaire pleaded guilty to a further five counts of unlawful interception of communications under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) 2000. Those counts are believed to relate to the Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, Elle Macpherson, a model, Max Clifford, a PR, Sky Andrew, a football agent and Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association.

Q. Why is it alleged that there were thousands of victims?

A. Among material seized by the police from Mulcaire's office and documents in Goodman's possession were personal details of 4,332 people.

Q. Why didn't the police warn everyone they suspected may have been the victim of hacking?

A. Scotland Yard says it has taken "all proper steps" to ensure those concerned have been informed. But lawyers for politicians, journalists and celebrities allege that the police have been "self-serving" and only released details after facing legal action.

Q. How is this difference of opinion being resolved?

A. Max Clifford and Gordon Taylor have settled claims for breach of privacy and breach of confidence against the News of the World. Other public figures are preparing legal cases. A second group, mostly of MPs, is bringing a judicial review claim against the Metropolitan Police. Central to this case will be how the relationship between News International, publishers of News of the World, and the Metropolitan Police Force may have restricted their inquiries.

Q. What will happen next?

A. Alan Johnson, the former home secretary, has called for the police's role to be reviewed by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, also wants a legal review. Labour MP Tom Watson has written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, accusing the force of bringing democracy into disrepute over its "continued mishandling" of the investigation. Yesterday Mr Watson wrote to Nick Clegg calling for a judicial inquiry into allegations of collusion between the Met and News International.

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