Phone-hacking: third Coulson employee linked to scandal

Cahal Milmo,Chief Reporter
Wednesday 19 January 2011 01:00

The insistence of Rupert Murdoch's News of the World that phone hacking was restricted to a single "rogue reporter" unravelled further yesterday when the name of another former senior executive at the paper was linked to the activities of the private investigator at the heart of the scandal.

News Corp has always insisted that the NoW's royal correspondent Clive Goodman operated his phone hacking activities alone and without the knowledge of senior NoW executives, in particular the paper's editor at the time, Andy Coulson, who resigned after the convictions and is now David Cameron's head of communications.

However the High Court heard yesterday that records kept by a private detective on the Sky Sports commentator Andy Gray were annotated with the name "Greg", alongside details such as the former footballer's mobile phone number and voicemail passwords.

Lawyers for Mr Gray, who also revealed the existence of an 18-strong "target list" drawn up by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire – later jailed for intercepting messages left by members of the royal household – said Mr Mulcaire was in the habit of writing down the name of the NoW executive who had commissioned him to access the phones of celebrities and agents.

Jeremy Reed, representing Mr Gray and the comedian Steve Coogan in their claims against News Corp that their phones were hacked, contended that the name "Greg" related to Greg Miskiw, the NoW's former assistant editor (news).

During the criminal prosecution against him in 2006, Mr Mulcaire was shown to have written "Clive" on documents relating to the hacking of the voicemails of Prince William and Prince Harry. The name was a reference to Mr Goodman, who was also jailed.

Mr Miskiw, who left the NoW in 2005, is now the third senior figure at the paper to be directly implicated in the activities of Mr Mulcaire.

Mr Mulcaire this week submitted a statement to the High Court in separate proceedings stating that Ian Edmondson, another assistant editor, asked him to access the voicemails for football agent Sky Andrew. Mr Edmondson was suspended by News Corp last month after he was named in another case being brought by the actress Sienna Miller.

NoW executives now face four damages claims from celebrities and growing evidence that contradicts their "rotten apple" defence based on Mr Goodman. This month the NoW announced it was carrying out a new "internal investigation" into the allegations.

Pressure will also mount on Scotland Yard to question Mr Miskiw and Mr Edmondson during any re-examination of its heavily criticised investigation into the hacking allegations, which is now the subject of a review by the Crown Prosecution Service. Neither Mr Miskiw nor Mr Edmondson have been interviewed by police about the extent of voicemail interception at NoW.

The revelation of Mr Miskiw's name was made during proceedings brought by Mr Gray and Mr Coogan to force Mr Mulcaire to reveal further information about the extent of his activities against them.

Mr Reed said it was likely an application would be made shortly to police requesting an unredacted version of all documents relating to his clients. He added: "I would suggest that Mr Gray has a prima facie strong claim showing that his voicemail was intercepted."

The court heard that the Sky Sports commentator was the subject of a number of stories in the NoW about this private life during the time of the alleged hacking. One carried the headline: "Randy Andy's Teeny Weeny Tartan Hanky Spanky With Me."

Lawyers for Mr Mulcaire said the claim brought on behalf of Mr Gray was "speculative" because all but three of the calls from the private detective's phone lines lasted less than nine seconds – the minimum amount of time required to access a voicemail account.

Alex Marzec, for Mr Mulcaire, said: "There is no documentary evidence at all that my client ever listened to voicemail messages left by Mr Gray."

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