Gordon Brown calls for investigation into claims Rupert Murdoch’s News Group destroyed 30 million emails

The former prime minister believes he may have been a victim of phone hacking while in office

Holly Evans
Friday 03 May 2024 13:52 BST
Former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a new police investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group (Lucy North/PA)
Former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a new police investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group (Lucy North/PA) (PA Wire)

Gordon Brown has called for a new police investigation into whether the publisher of the Sun and News of the World covered up phone hacking.

The former prime minister said civil court documents show Rupert Murdoch’s News UK deleted emails at the time of the initial investigation, with 31 million emails lost between 2010 and 2011.

Nine million of those were “irretrievably lost”, with the publisher insisting that it was clearing out old computer servers rather than engaging in a corporate cover-up.

Rupert Murdoch’s publisher has paid an estimated £1bn in damages to phone hacking victims (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Archive)

Among the new documents are allegations that Mr Brown was involved in a conspiracy to obtain internal emails at the company, which led them to delete editor Rebekah Brooks’ emails to prevent further leaks.

This included allegations that Labour MP Tom Watson, who was close to Mr Brown, had been handling stolen data from Mrs Brooks and bribing an employee to get hold of emails.

Discussing these claims, the former Labour leader denied ever being passed information relating to Mrs Brooks, and stressed: “The police should never have accepted their explanation.”

He has now written to Sir Mark Rowley, the commissioner of the Met Police, to request a meeting to discuss a new investigation.

In 2014, Mrs Brooks was found not guilty on all charges related to phone hacking after a trial at the Old Bailey, with prosecutors discovered no evidence of corporate wrongdoing at News UK in 2015.

The company accepted that journalists at News of the World were involved in phone hacking and the paper closed in 2011, with damages paid to hundreds of victims. Those targeted included the murdered teenager Milly Dowler and celebrities such as Sienna Miller and members of the royal family.

Rebekah Brooks (right) was cleared of any wrongdoing after standing trial on phone hacking charges (PA)

Murdoch’s group has also settled cases brought by those targeted by the Sun without admitting any liability, with a High Court case set for trial next year.

While he has never taken action against the publisher, Mr Brown said he is now considering it and believes his phone may have been hacked during his time as chancellor and prime minister.

“If a prime minister was having his phone hacked by News Group, then that is a very serious matter,” he told the BBC.

“And we need to get all the evidence about what happened, what didn’t happen, what was happening at their headquarters.”

A spokesperson for News Group Newspapers [NGN] said: Mr “ Brown’s allegations are unfounded and wrong. They relate to events from over a decade ago which are the subject of current legal proceedings in the civil courts.

“This is a highly complex and heavily contested area of the litigation. They are denied by NGN in a detailed defence for the court. There is absolutely no evidence to support the assertion that Mr Brown’s voicemails were intercepted and this is denied.”

Mr Watson has been approached by the Independent for comment.

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