Rebekah Brooks was on list of journalists who worked with convicted private investigator

The former journalist recently returned as News UK chief executive

Jon Stone,James Cusick
Thursday 24 September 2015 17:26
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Rebekah Brooks
Rebekah Brooks

Rebekah Brooks was on a list of journalists believed to have requested information from a private detective who was later convicted of illegally “blagging” private information, it has emerged.

The list of 115 journalists was drawn up by the Information Commissioner’s Office from information seized in 2003 from a raid on the home of private detective Steve Whittamore.

The journalists on the lists are not necessarily believed to have done anything wrong or illegal.

The raid was part of Operation Motorman, an investigation by the ICO into allegations of offences under the Data Protection Act by journalists.

The investigation found that Whittamore had been illegally “blagging” personal information. He later pleaded guilty to “conspiring to commit misconduct in public office”.

Ms Brooks, was recently appointed as executive of News UK, is listed under her maiden name Rebekah Wade among the ICO’s published names of 115 journalists, taken from a wider list that includes 305 individuals.

Others on the list, which also names the publication journalists worked for during the time-frame of the Motorman investigation, include the former features editor of the News of the World, Jules Stenson. He received a suspended sentence earlier this year after pleading guilty to a conspiracy to illegally access voicemails.

The Observer’s Martin Bright, who later became the political editor of the New Statesman, and Ian Bain, now at the Guardian, are both named. Tom Newton Dunn, a former Mirror journalist, now the Sun’s political editor, is also listed.

A tribunal ordered the list to be disclosed by the ICO in August, which argued against its release. It has since been posted on the Information Rights and Wrongs blog.

Mr Whittamore helped some journalists obtain information such as car registration and phone numbers from both private and public sources.

In 2010 the former private investigator told the BBC in an interview that he had been used as a “fall guy” by journalists, describing himself as “Oliver to the press’s Fagin”.

Ms Brooks has always denied knowledge of phone hacking that went on while she was a newspaper editor.

A News UK spokesman said: “All the issues around Operation Motorman have been thoroughly investigated by the police, the Information Commissioner’s Office, parliament and the Leveson inquiry.

“The information commissioner himself stated in a 2010 decision notice that ‘not all the journalists whose names are held were necessarily involved in unlawful activity’. At News UK, the use of search agents or private investigators is tightly monitored and regulated.”

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