Former FA chief David Davies is latest high-profile figure to sue over phone hacking

Martin Hickman
Wednesday 02 February 2011 01:00 GMT

A former football executive who knew sensitive information about England players and managers has launched legal action over allegations that his phone was illegally hacked by a private investigator working for the country's biggest-selling newspaper.

David Davies, a Football Association veteran who had three stints as acting chief executive of the game's governing body, confirmed he had begun High Court proceedings to force police to disclose information about the alleged interception of his messages by Glen Mulcaire for the News of the World.

Scotland Yard told the former Grandstand presenter last year that his details were among those of dozens of public figures found in a dawn raid on Mulcaire's house five years ago, but had subsequently refused to divulge the material. Mr Davies, who would have known much about scandal and intrigue in the English team, expects to be told the extent of the hacking within weeks. He will then decide whether to launch a claim for damages against Rupert Murdoch's News International newspaper group, which owns the Sunday red-top tabloid.

Confirmation of the latest court action came on the day it emerged that Andy Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, had left his job as the Prime Minister's director of communications. Mr Coulson, who resigned as the paper's editor four years ago after the jailing of Mulcaire and the paper's Royal Editor, Clive Goodman, for snooping on the Royal Household, said in his resignation statement on 21 January that he expected to remain at No10 for "the next few weeks".

Yesterday Downing Street said that his last day had been on Monday, six working days after the statement. Mr Coulson, who has always strenuously denied any knowledge of hacking at the paper he edited, received no severance package, in line with the contracts of special advisers.

Speaking to The Independent yesterday, Mr Davies said he understood his phone was allegedly hacked during 2005 and 2006, which would have been under Mr Coulson's editorship.

In 2005, Mr Davies was at the top of the English football world as acting chief executive of the FA.

He stepped up to the post in the summer of 2004 after the resignation of the FA's chief executive Mark Palios who, along with the England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, the News of the World, under Mr Coulson, revealed had been having an affair with Mr Davies' secretary, Faria Alam.

She later claimed that Mr Davies had sexually harassed her at the FA's headquarters in London – a claim rejected by Mr Davies and by an industrial tribunal the following year. Mr Davies explained that he had launched the court action on Friday because the Metropolitan Police – whose handling of hacking allegations has been heavily criticised – refused to disclose information to him, despite initially indicating it would do so.

Mr Davies said: "A year ago the police came to me to tell me that there was evidence that I was linked to this case and linked to the interception of my calls. Initially, police had indicated they would be willing to hand over details on receipt of a court order, but this has not been forthcoming."

He continued: "I have been seeking the information for 11 months. I had reason to believe that the information would be released to me and I am a private citizen and that was all I was asking. It's become clear over a period of time that this is not going to happen."

Thousands of phone numbers and 91 PIN codes for accessing voicemails were found at Mulcaire's house but police are believed to have contacted only a handful of victims.

After maintaining that the hacking was limited to one "rogue reporter", Goodman, News International last week sacked the paper's head of news, Ian Edmondson, and passed a series of emails to police. Scotland Yard announced it had received significant new evidence and re-opened the inquiry.

Delivering the Cudlipp Lecture at the London College of Communications on Monday night, the Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, accused News International of failing to "own up rather than cover up" over hacking.

He said: "The suspicion must remain that News Corporation assumed that it enjoyed enough power and influence in Britain to make the phone hacking controversy go away."

News International made no comment.

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