PCC: We will look again at phone hacking after inquries

The Press Complaints Commission intends to look again at allegations of phone-hacking at the News of the World in the wake of a series of fresh allegations.

Stephen Abell, director of the PCC, has written to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger outlining the press watchdog’s concerns about new allegations brought to light by the New York Times earlier this month.

In his letter, Abell highlighted fresh claims of criminal activity prior to the convictions of former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and investigator Glen Mulcaire for hacking into the message of royal aides in 2007.

The News of the World has always maintained the pair were acting alone without the knowledge of senior staff at the paper.

The PCC concluded a second review of the News of the World hacking affair in November by saying that there was no new fresh evidence.

However, during interviews with the New York Times and BBC Radio 4 former News of the World reporter Sean Hoare made new allegations that Downing Street communications boss Andy Coulson was complicity in phone-hacking when he was editor of the News of the World.

“In November 2009, the commission came to a view – based on information available at the time – as to whether it had been misled by the News of the World. Further information has, of course, since appeared,’Abell wrote.

‘The commission’s position on this, together with other aspects of the case, will be assessed when we return to the matter at the conclusions of the enquiries, which are currently being undertaken, and following the end of any legal proceedings which are brought.”

Abell also indicated that the PCC would examine a fresh allegation of phone-hacking at the News of the World from a time after the Goodman and Glen Mulcaire scandal, which was brought to the watchdog’s attention by the paper itself. This has led to an un-named reporter being suspended and to more litigation, the News of the World has revealed.

The re-emergence of the mobile phone message hacking scandal has led to a new Met police investigation, a series of legal challenges by those claiming their phones were hacked, a judicial review case from Lord Prescott and two fresh Commons inquiries.

Abell wrote: “We will be monitoring the outcome of the police deliberations, and those of the parliamentary committees and others.

“At their conclusion we will look further to establish what lessons can be learned for the industry, and the PCC, to prevent this from happening again.”

A spokesman for the PCC told Press Gazette it was premature to talk in terms of a third PCC inquiry and that the priority was for the industry to learn best practice lessons for the future.

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