Phone hacking ‘rife’ at MGN papers

Published: Tuesday 3rd March 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Phone hacking was “rife” at all three of Mirror Group Newspaper’s (MGN) national titles by mid 1999 at the latest, the High Court has heard.

At a hearing to decide the amount of compensation to be awarded in e ight representative cases, counsel David Sherborne said that the date when the practice first started at the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the People was not known.

But, the evidence was that it was rife on the showbusiness desk at the Daily Mirror by mid 1999 and continued thereafter.

James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror journalist who is due to give evidence during the two-week hearing before Mr Justice Mann in London, characterised it as being “endemic” at the newspaper.

Mr Sherborne, who is representing TV executive Alan Yentob, actress Sadie Frost, ex-footballer Paul Gascoigne, soap stars Lucy Taggart, Shane Richie and Shobna Gulati, flight attendant Lauren Alcorn and TV producer Robert Ashworth, said: “It is a reasonable inference that phone hacking was rife at all three of MGN’s national titles at or around the same time, that is by mid-1999 at the latest.”

Counsel said that MGN had admitted that all eight were the victims of voicemail interception and other unlawful methods of information gathering by journalists working for the three titles.

It also admitted that a number of stories would not have appeared but for the voicemail interception.

Seven of the claimants – Mr Yentob was the exception as there were no stories in relation to him – relied on a total of at least 109 published stories.

Mr Sherborne said that the wrongdoing complained of was carried out intentionally for cynical commercial reasons.

“The fact that MGN continued its phone hacking at such levels and over the course of so many years more than evidences its utility as a valuable source of information, particularly for publishing stories in its three most popular newspaper titles.”

Futhermore, he added, it deliberately concealed its wrongdoing at the time as well as subsequently, and tried not to create any incriminating evidence. If any such evidence was created, steps would be taken to destroy it.

He told the judge: “Your task at the end of the day is to assess the likely extent of the wrongdoing in relation to each of the claimants and then to make an award.”

Published: Tuesday 3rd March 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search