Leveson Inquiry: Mirror and Sun implicated by Mulcaire notebooks

Private detective Glenn Mulcaire’s notebooks implicate the Sun and the Mirror as well as 28 News of the World journalists, the press standards inquiry has heard.

The investigator wrote first names in the top left-hand corner of his notes recording details of the telephone voicemails he illegally intercepted.

Some of these corresponded to News of the World employees, one of whom – referred to only as “A” – apparently made 1,453 separate requests for information from Mulcaire. But the private detective also wrote “The Sun” and a name relating to the Mirror in his notebooks, the inquiry was told.

Mulcaire was jailed with the News of the World’s former royal editor Clive Goodman in January 2007 after they admitted intercepting voicemail messages left on phones belonging to members of the royal household.

The inquiry heard that the investigator’s notes relating to the royal aides are marked “Clive”, “private” and with the name of “A”, who cannot be named for fear of prejudicing the ongoing police investigation into phone-hacking.

Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, noted: “One possible inference to be drawn is that ‘A’ was working with or for Goodman, and he or she may have instructed Mulcaire to carry out an interception.

“It might be argued that ‘A’ could have been acting independently of Goodman, but that would not make much sense since Goodman was the royal editor.”

Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to hacking the phones of publicist Max Clifford, football agent Sky Andrew, chairman of the Professional Footballers Association Gordon Taylor, MP Simon Hughes and supermodel Elle Macpherson.

His notes for Mr Clifford feature the name “A” and “private”; for Andrew a person referred to as “I”; for Taylor “A”; for Hughes “A” and people named only as “B” and “C”; and for Ms Macpherson “B” and “private”.

In total about 28 corner names are legible in the 11,000 pages of notes that police seized from Mulcaire, which relate to a total of 2,266 taskings and the names of 5,795 potential victims, the inquiry heard.

“A” requested information from the private investigator on 1,453 occasions, followed by “B” on 303, “C” on 252, and someone identified as “D” on 135.

Jay said: “We have a range of corner names. I know the names in each case, but obviously do not know anything about the corner name ‘private’ or its significance.

“We only have the first name in each of the cases, but they happen to tie up with the first names of employees of News International.”

The inquiry heard that actor Jude Law has brought a claim against the Sun for allegedly hacking his phone.

Mr Jay said: “Part of the evidential matrix in support of his case is a corner name in the Mulcaire notebook which simply states ‘the Sun’ without specifying the individual working there.”

The barrister added: “There is also documentary evidence which we have seen of another corner name relating to the Mirror.”

In some cases Mulcaire hacked the phones of associates of the people he was targeting, the inquiry heard.

Jay rejected the defence previously mounted by News International, the publishers of the now-closed News of the World, that hacking was limited to a single “rogue reporter”.

He said: “It’s clear that Goodman wasn’t a rogue reporter. Ignoring the ‘private’ corner names and the illegible, we have at least 27 other News International employees.

“This fact alone suggests wide-ranging illegal activity within the organisation at the relevant time.”

He added: “I suggest that it would not be unfair to comment that it was at the very least a thriving cottage industry.”

Jay said it appeared that the illegal interception of voicemails went beyond the News of the World.

“The inquiry is beginning to receive evidence to indicate that phone hacking was not limited to that organisation. This will no doubt assist on issues of culture, breadth and depth,” he said.

Jay said Mulcaire’s guilty plea to hacking the phones of people who were not royal aides should have alerted News International to the fact that the practice was more widespread.

“The five individuals I mentioned in the context of these counts would not have been of interest to the royal editor [Goodman],” he said.

“This must have been obvious to News International at all material times, by which I mean anyone within the company equipped with a basic familiarity with these facts.”

He told the hearing that the publisher was likely to find itself faced with one of two equally unpleasant conclusions.

“Either News International senior management knew what was going on at the time and therefore, at the very least, condoned this illegal activity,” he said.

“Or they didn’t and News International’s systems failed to the extent that there was failure in supervision, failure of oversight with possible failures of training and corporate ethos and checking of expenses claims.

“And there’s room for a Nelsonian blind eye. In either version, we have clear evidence of a generic, systematic or cultural problem.”

Lord Justice Leveson’s public inquiry into press standards got under way today with an opening statement by Jay setting out the “vast” remit of the investigation.

Prime Minister David Cameron set up the inquiry in July after revelations that the News of the World hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler after she went missing.

Jay said: “Although the individual or individuals who deleted Milly’s voicemail messages back in 2002 might not have realised at the time what the consequence might be in terms of raising false hopes, the public was ultimately sickened by the carelessness and cynicism of the perpetrators.”

Lord Justice Leveson stressed that the freedom of the press was “fundamental” to the UK’s democracy and way of life but said it must be exercised “with the rights of others in mind”.

He said the task of his inquiry could be summed up in one simple question: “Who guards the guardians?”

The first part of the Leveson Inquiry is looking at the culture, practices and ethics of the press in general.

The second part, examining the extent of unlawful activities by journalists, will not begin until detectives have completed their work and any prosecutions have concluded.

Milly’s father Bob was among those who attended the start of the inquiry in Court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

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