MP: Met is investigating Times over email hacking

Officers from the Met unit investigating computer hacking at the News International are in looking into Labour MP Tom Watson’s allegations of email hacking at The Times.

Watson wrote to the Met last week asking it to investigate allegations the paper hacked into an email account belonging to anonymous police blogger NightJack to expose his identity in 2009.

The MP Tweeted this morning: ‘The Met police have confirmed to me they are investigating@rupertmurdoch’s newspaper The Times over email hacking.”

A spokesperson for the Met said: “We can confirm that a letter was received on Monday 23 January from Tom Watson. Officers from Operation Tuleta are in contact with Watson in relation to the specific issues he wishes to raise. We are not prepared to give a running commentary on the Operation Tuleta investigation.”

In a letter sent on 23 January, Watson said: “It is clear that a crime has been committed – illicit hacking of personal emails. It is almost certain that a judge was misled…

“A journalist and unnamed managers failed to report the crime to their proprietor or the police. This runs counter to the assurances of Rupert Murdoch that News International takes a ‘zero tolerance approach to wrongdoing.'”

He also called for Times editor James Harding to be recalled to the Leveson Inquiry to discuss the allegations

The paper has already admitted that former media correspondent Patrick Foster hacked into Nightjack’s emails in 2009, before revealing that Lancashire police detective Richard Horton was the man behind the award-winning NightJack blog.

When Foster told his managers what he had done this, The Times said he was told that ‘if he wanted to pursue the story he had to use legitimate means to do so”.

Harding claimed the reporter later identified Horton ‘using his own sources and information publicly available from the internet”, and that it was on this basis the paper overturned a privacy injunction at the High Court.

Foster, who has since worked as a freelance for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph, was formally disciplined for email hacking and later dismissed over an unrelated incident.

Operation Tuleta was established in July 2011 to investigate claims of computer hacking.

It has so far made only arrest, a 52-year-old man questioned on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act in November.

UPDATE 11.50am: Watson has published a letter on his website from the Met’s Detective Superintendent John Lovett in which the force confirms the investigation.

Lovett said: ‘I write to reassure you that the concerns raised within your letters are under investigation and officers from Operation Tuleta are dealing directly with the victim.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7336 5327 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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