BBC’s Newsnight has obtained a dossier of documents that gives an ‘astonishing insight’into how the News of the World paid a former policeman to spy on more than a hundred celebrities, sports stars, politicians and royals.
Evidence obtained by the BBC from private detective Derek Webb lists the names of NoW surveillance targets between 2003 to 2008, featuring some of the most high profile figures in Britain including: Prince William, Simon Cowell, Gary Lineker, Paul McCartney and Boris Johnson.
Webb, a former police officer who worked in covert surveillance and received training from MI5, told Newsnight that many of the requests were made by the NoW’s former royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed for phone-hacking in 2007.
But they also came from numerous other journalists at the paper, he claimed, though he insisted that he was never told the source of any leads and never hacked a phone.
‘I didn’t know anything in relation to hacking,’he said. ‘I realised that hacking was now a big business in relation to what was going on back [then] but I never knew about it at the time. I had no knowledge of it.”
He told the BBC that he had followed Chelsy Davy, the former girlfriend of Prince Harry, around locations in London and Oxfordshire, and Prince William in Gloucestershire.
Other targets included former attorney general Lord Goldsmith QC, former home aecretary Charles Clarke and ex Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy.
‘Nothing surprised me in relation to the number of politicians,’he said. ‘I was doing it as a business, to earn a living. ‘
Webb, whose other alleged targets included David Miliband MP, Angelina Jolie and Heather Mills, claimed that on 95 per cent of jobs he was ‘never rumbled”.
‘Because I kept getting results for them [NoW] they employed my services more and more,’said Webb, who claimed that when the paper was closed in July he was cut off and received no compensation.
He is now taking an employment case against owners News International.
‘Other people are getting loyalty payments,’he said. ‘I was loyal to the News of the World and they failed to recognise this and disregarded me as though I’m a non-entity,’he said.
Yesterday it emerged that the NoW had paid Webb to spy on phone-hacking lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris, which NI admitted was “deeply inappropriate”.
The Press Complaints Commission is now said to be examining the claims and has asked News International to ‘clarify its own position on what has happened”, according to the BBC.
A News International spokesman told Newsnight: ‘We are not able to make any comment around the specific work carried out by Derek Webb.”