Former Respect MP George Galloway has set the scene for a dramatic legal showdown with the News of the World after pledging to have his day in court with the tabloid.
As exclusively revealed by Press Gazette, Galloway became the latest high-profile figure to sue the paper for breach of privacy in relation to allegations that his phone had been hacked in August.
In a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary broadcast last night, Galloway insisted that he planned to have his day in court – and that he would not settle the case, as other similar claimants have done.
He told Dispatches reporter Peter Oborne: “In other cases they [News International] have paid a king’s ransome in out of court settlements with confidentiality clauses to make other cases go away.
“But by the grace of God I don’t need money, I’m more interested in the truth and I intend to get it.
“Anyone lying under oath runs the risk that a paper-trail, an electronic paper-trail, or a reporter that just decides to come clean might step foward at some stage and unmask that lie and then the people involved will go to prison and probably for a long time.”
News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in February 2007 for hacking into the phone messages of various public figures.
The News of the World has maintained that Goodman was the only reporter on the paper involved in phone hacking.
In a High Court writ, Galloway claims Mulcaire carried out ‘voicemail interception on an industrial scale’and said that he believes Mulcaire supplied information to other employees of the paper, not only to Goodman.
The News of the World has so far paid out a reported total of £2m to settle privacy actions arising from allegations of phone-hacking to chief executive of the Professional Footballers Association Graham Taylor, his legal advisor Jo Armstrong, a second legal advisor and publicist Max Clifford.
New former NoW journalist makes phone-hack claims
Last night’s Dispatches documentary reported new claims from an un-named individual who worked at an editorial level under Andy Coulson as NoW editor.
In words spoken by an actor the man said of mobile phone hacking: “It wasn’t regarded as illegal as such, it was regarded as fairly dodgy. I’d say it was fairly common but not so common that everybody was doing it, that wasn’t the case at all. But the people who did know how to do it would do it regularly.
He said that “Lots of people” did it day to day and that following the jailing of Goodman and Mulcaire “There were huge rumours swirling every day about who they were going to cart off next.” The source added: “Then the feeling in the newsroom turned to surprise that nobody else was affected.”
He said: “Andy was a very good editor, he was very conscientious and he wouldn’t let stories run unless he knew they were correct, so if the evidence that a reporter had was a recorded phone message that would be what Andy wanted to know about. They would have to say ‘yes there’s a recorded message’ which you would either go and play to him or show him a transcript of to satisfy that they weren’t going to get sued, that it wasn’t made up.”
Coulson told Dispatches that he had nothing to add to his previous denials, in which he has stated that he had no knowledge of phone hacking when he was editor of the News of the World.