Former Premier League footballer Garry Flitcroft said he 'strongly suspected'the Sunday People hacked his phone to obtain details over an extra-marital affair – but could provide no evidence to back up his claim.
Flitcroft won an injunction to stop the media reporting details of an affair in 2001, which was among the first kiss-and-tell injunctions granted following the introduction of the Human Rights Act, but which was later overturned by the Court of Appeal.
Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry today, Flitcroft said that after the injunction was granted in 2001 the Sunday People launched a 'dirt-digging exercise'against him that led to the discovery of a second affair.
He also claimed the paper hinted at his identity by reporting that the then mystery player granted the injunction played for an 'unfashionable'side in the North West.
'I strongly suspect that my phone was hacked by a journalist and as a result the second woman was contacted and asked to sell her story to the paper,'said Flitcroft.
But when asked whether he had firm evidence or whether his claim was mere speculation he replied: 'No, that's just speculation."
Flitcroft said it would have been a 'massive coincidence'for the People to track down both women because 'one lived in Stockport and one lived in Chester and they didn't know each other".
He also claimed both women had attempted to blackmail him with the threat of selling their story to the People, but junior counsel Carine Patry Hoskins suggested they had both denied the claims in court.
Asked why he took out the injunction – which cost him almost £200,000 – Flitcroft said 'my family's close and I didn't want it to get out'but also admitted he was 'covering my own back".
Flitcroft, who is now the manager of non-league side Chorley, said he never considered taking the issue to the Press Complaints Commission because the Sunday People's editor at the time was Neil Wallis, who sat on the watchdog's panel.
Wallis later became deputy editor of the News of the World and was arrested on suspicion of phone-hacking in July.