Newspaper attacks phone hacking claims

An editorial acknowledged that former royal editor Clive Goodman and private
investigator Glen Mulcaire tapped into voicemails in 2006 and were punished
for their actions.

But those instances were one-off “mistakes” on the part of the newspaper, it
claimed.

Meanwhile, Andy Hayman, a former assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, who
headed a nine-month inquiry into the journalists’ conduct, said claims that
former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was a victim of hacking were
“without any clear evidence”.

The News of the World also highlighted Metropolitan Police Assistant
Commissioner John Yates’ confirmation on Thursday that police would not
reopen its inquiry into the affair “because no new evidence had come to
light”.

“So let us be clear,” the comment piece said. “Neither the police, nor our own
internal investigations, has found any evidence to support allegations that
News of the World journalists have accessed voicemails of any individuals.

“Nor instructed private investigators or other third parties to access
voicemails of any individual.

“Nor found that there was any systemic corporate illegality by any executive
to suppress evidence to the contrary.

“If the police, or ourselves, had uncovered such evidence, charges would have
been brought.”

The News of the World criticised The Guardian and other media for what it
described as an “onslaught” of reports suggesting members of staff were
involved in a tapping conspiracy.

It admitted it had made mistakes during its 165-year history.

“When we have done so, we have admitted to them,” the editorial said.

“No newspaper, least of all The Guardian, is perfect. Nor is our craft a
perfect science.

“Its practitioners are human.

“They misbehave and make mistakes for which they – rightly – pay a heavy
price.”

It called for rival publications to “practise what they preach” by pursuing
“decent journalism”, adding: “If The Guardian has any fresh evidence to
support their claims against us, we invite them to pass it on to the police
without delay.”

The comments came after Mr Prescott sought to gain access to “sealed” evidence
relating to the phone hacking allegations.

He said his solicitors were writing to Director of Public Prosecutions Keir
Starmer, urging him to apply to open material which was reportedly “sealed”
in a case the paper’s publishers settled with Gordon Taylor, the chief
executive of the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

On Friday night, News International, the paper’s publisher, issued a statement
denying reports by The Guardian that its journalists – or private
investigators working for them – had hacked into the voicemails of hundreds
of public figures, including Mr Prescott.

Writing on his blog, Mr Prescott said: “I’ve consulted with lawyers and feel
the best way to really establish what the News of the World was really up to
is to access the evidence file they paid £700,000 to Gordon Taylor to
effectively ‘seal’ from the public.”

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