Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has described the day he was told his phone had been hacked by the News of the World – but insists he will not sue his former employers News International.
Writing in this week’s edition of The Spectator (due out tomorrow), MacKenzie tells how he was invited to meet officers from the Met’s phone-hacking inquiry Operation Weeting after his name and mobile phone number were found in notebooks belonging to jailed private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
We went into a large empty room where the sergeant produced a tatty binder with my name down the side. By this time I was beginning to sweat. At that moment I would have even coughed to voting for Blair in 1997.
There was a dramatic pause as the sergeant opened up the binder. Sheet one had my name on it with a number by the side. Was it mine? Yes it was. The next page was more interesting. It had the pin code used to access my phone’s voicemails.
Up to this moment I had always believed that the pin codes of mobiles were 0000 or 1111 and that’s why it was so easy to crack. But no. In my case it was something like 367549V27418. That surely must kill the idea that the hackers guessed or blagged the number – they must have had inside help from the phone networks.
MacKenzie discovered six dates from the spring of 2006 ‘each showing the time and duration of my phone being hacked’– and admits that ‘for the first time I felt uneasy”. At the time MacKenzie was in the middle of a divorce.
In any event, I won’t be taking News International’s money. That would be a betrayal of the many happy years I spent there, plus I have a sense that to pocket the cash – and one lawyer was anxious for me to know that it would be tax free, always attractive – would be to indicate I thought Rupert Murdoch would ever have turned a blind eye to the hackings.
I have an advantage over you. I know Rupert Murdoch and I know he would have gone ballistic at the very thought of such actions. At 81 he may be old but he’s not daft. I should be so daft.
Still, I do reflect that in those 60 minutes I spent with the two police officers by Putney Bridge that my previous hostile attitude to the hacked stars had changed forever. As has my pin number.