Twelve people are facing possible criminal charges over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal including nine journalists and three police officers, according to The Sunday Times.
A report in today’s paper, which is owned by NoW publishers News International, quoted a senior Scotland Yard officer claiming it was ‘very likely’that further arrests would be made soon.
The claims came after a 63-year-old man was questioned by police yesterday over allegations of phone hacking and bribery.
According to the Sunday Times, police moved to secure computers and other evidence at the NoW newsroom in Wapping following the publication of its final edition last night.
The paper claimed that a ‘cabal’of six journalists acted as ‘gatekeepers’to Glenn Mulcaire, the private detective who was jailed for six months after being found guilty of phone hacking on behalf of the NoW in 2007.
Scotland Yard is also alleged to have turned on the newspaper and accused it of ‘orchestrating a five-year cover-up”.
Assistant commissioner John Yates is alleged to have told officers: ‘If the News of the World had co-operated properly in 2005-6, we would not be where we are now. It was their cover-up.’
The Sunday Times also claimed that an internal report was commissioned by News International executives in 2007 which ‘uncovered evidence indicating that hacking was more widespread than previously admitted and that money might have been paid by the paper’s journalists to police”.
A News International source told the paper that ‘we were sitting on a ticking timebomb”, but the company’s chairman James Murdoch was apparently not told about the report.
The inquiry was launched after former royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed for four months for phone hacking in 2007, appealed against his dismissal by the company and claimed his colleagues were ‘all aware of phone hacking”.
The Sunday Times claimed that the inquiry was overseen by NoW editor Colin Myler.
Today’s report said: ‘Myler and Tom Crone, head of legal affairs for the NoW, subsequently assured the culture, media and sport parliamentary select committee in 2009 that the investigation had not revealed any wrongdoing by other reporters.”
But it added: ‘News International is now facing painful and searching questions about what was actually uncovered in 2007.
‘The Sunday Times was told last night that a detailed internal report was compiled at the time. One source who has seen the report alleged that it contained possible evidence of both phone hacking and payments to police.’