Press spent more than £1m with convicted investigator

ITV News revealed last night that national newspapers spent will in excess of £1m with one private investigator to obtain information like ex-directory telephone numbers.

The broadcaster says it has had full access to the files from the Information Commisoner’s Motorman inquiry into private investigator Steve Whittamore, who was prosecuted for breach of the Data Protection Acct. It claims to have analysed 17,000 entries covering 4,000 targets. These include Kate Middleton, as she was known then, and her sister Pippa; the family of murder victim Holly Wells; members of the England football team and singer Charlotte Church.

Information requested by Whittamore included much that may have been illegally obtained – such as police record checks, ex-directory numbers and numbers of friends and family.

News organisations contacted by ITN said that much of the information requested would have been justified by the public interest.

The telephone number of the Middletons was sought by a journalist working for the Daily Mail.

A spokesman for Associated Newspapers said: ‘the request to an inquiry agent for Middleton family numbers happened nearly a decade ago when Kate was sharing a student house with the future King.

‘The journalist concerned could have obtained the Middleton family number herself but it would have been a time consuming process.  She categorically denies asking anyone to break the law. But in the face of significant public interest, on a story that was being pursued by  other newspapers and the broadcast media, she was simply making every effort to ensure that our reporting was as accurate as possible.

Big spenders with Whittamore 1995-2003 (ITN analysis of Motorman files)

  •          News International: – £490,739
  •          Trinity Mirror:£376,918
  •          Associated Newspapers:£268,311
  •          Express Newspapers: £95,340
  •          Guardian Newspapers: £28, 860

ITN which makes ITV News was said to have spent £141 with Whittamore.

Detailed breakdown (2000-2003):(ITN analysis of Whittamore notebooks)

The Daily Mail – £143,150

  •          1,285 ex-directory number searches
  •          90 requests for friends and family details
  •          321 phone conversions, where a name and address is obtained from a telephone number

The Daily Mirror – £92,000

  •          660 ex-directory number searches
  •          41 requests for friends and family details
  •          19 criminal record checks
  •          79 vehicle registration checks

The People spent £76,200 on 1,016 searches.

The Mail on Sunday spent £62,000 on 578 searches

The Evening Standard spent £29,600 on 196 searches

The Sunday Mirror spent £27,800 on 151 searches

News of the World is revealed to have spent more than £23,300 on 240 searches

The Daily Express spent £13,200 on 164 searches

The Observer spent £13, 200 on 201 searches

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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