Friday, 29 July 2011

new team of officers is set to investigate claims of computer hacking, the Metropolitan Police has announced.

new team of officers is set to investigate claims of computer hacking, the Metropolitan Police has announced.

It will consider breach of privacy allegations received since January.

It comes as the private investigator at the centre of phone-hacking allegations, Glenn Mulcaire, says he "acted on the instructions of others".

And the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne said she was "very distressed" after being told she may have been phone hacked by Mulcaire.

Scotland Yard said the new team will investigate matters not covered by its phone-hacking inquiry, Operation Weeting, and report to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers.

A spokesman said there had previously been a "consideration of allegations" of computer hacking rather than an investigation, but now "some aspects of that operation are being moved towards investigation".

On Friday, Glenn Mulcaire's legal team said any suggestion he acted unilaterally for the News of the World newspaper was "untrue".

Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 after admitting to phone hacking while he was working for the paper.

In a statement they said: "As an employee he [Mulcaire] acted on the instructions of others.

"There were also occasions when he understood his instructions were from those who genuinely wished to assist in solving crimes.

"Any suggestion that he acted in such matters unilaterally is untrue. In the light of the ongoing police investigation, he cannot say any more."

A man appeared in court and admitted throwing a foam pie at Rupert Murdoch as he gave evidence to a committee of MPs
Conservative MP Louise Mensch apologised to former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan for accusing him of "boasting" about hacking phones
Speaking for the first time on Friday evening, Ms Payne spoke of her distress but said she still had faith in those who had supported her.

"I am, as you can imagine, very distressed and upset by the news that my details have been found on Mulcaire's list and would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support," she said in a statement.

"I can confirm reports that I was given a phone by the campaign team and that my voicemail was only activated after my first aneurysm.

"Notwithstanding the bad apples involved here, my faith remains solidly behind all the good people who have supported me over the last 11 years. I will never lose my faith in them."

'Deeply concerned'
The then-editor Rebekah Brooks said it was "unthinkable" anyone at the paper knew.

Mrs Brooks said Ms Payne had become a "dear friend" during the News of the World's campaign for Sarah's Law.

"The idea that anyone on the newspaper knew that Sara or the campaign team were targeted by Mr Mulcaire is unthinkable," she said in a statement on Thursday.

"It is imperative for Sara and the other victims of crime that these allegations are investigated and those culpable brought to justice."

News International has said it "takes this matter very seriously and is deeply concerned like everyone".

Prime Minister David Cameron described the hacking scandal as "shocking in terms of the dreadful things that have happened".

There have also been allegations that the News of the World accessed the voicemails of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, relatives of victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks and families of killed British soldiers.

Meanwhile, staff at the New York Post, also owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, have been told to save any information relating to phone hacking or bribery of government officials.

The paper's editor Col Allan told staff the advice was in light of the NoW allegations and "not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful".

The Sun and the Daily Mirror were found guilty of contempt of court

The Sun and the Daily Mirror were found guilty of contempt of court for publishing a series of "extreme" articles about a suspect who had been arrested by police investigating the murder of the landscape architect Joanna Yeates.

The Daily Mirror was fined £50,000 and the Sun £18,000 after the high court ruled that the papers posed a "substantial risk" to the course of justice in their reporting on the arrest of Christopher Jefferies, Yeates's landlord, who was later released without charge and was entirely innocent of any involvement.

The Daily Mirror fine is the biggest against a British newspaper for contempt since 2004, when the Daily Star was fined £60,000 for revealing the identities of two Premiership footballers at the centre of high-profile gang rape allegations.

In a separate legal action eight national newspapers, including the Daily Mirror and Sun, collectively paid six-figure libel damages to Jefferies following allegations made about him in January, when the police hunt for Yeates's killer was at its height.

In a written judgment on the contempt of court action handed down at the high court, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Owen described the Daily Mirror articles as "extreme" and "substantial risks to the course of justice". The judges said the Sun's coverage of Jefferies created a "very serious risk" that any future court defence would be damaged.

Lord Judge said: "The articles in the one issue of the Sun were written and laid out in such a way that they would have conveyed to the reader of the front page and the two inside pages over which the stories were spread that he was a stalker, with an obsession with death, who let himself into the flats of other occupants of the building where Miss Yeates lived, and that he had an unhealthy interest in blond young women."

The court gave the Daily Mirror publisher Mirror Group Newspapers extended time in which to launch a petition for permission to appeal to the supreme court.

Vincent Tabak, a 33-year-old engineer, pleaded guilty to manslaughter but has denied murdering Yeates, who was found dead on a roadside verge in Failand, Somerset, on Christmas Day 2010. Tabak, who lived next door to Yeates, is due to go on trial accused of murder at Bristol crown court in October.

Tabloid media coverage at the time of Jefferies's arrest was intense, with speculation about the suspect rife in newspapers and the internet. Dominic Grieve, the attorney general who brought the court action against the two papers, issued a rare warning to the press at the time about their reporting.

Two of the three articles found in contempt of court were published the day after Grieve's warning, on New Year's Day. The attorney general welcomed Friday's judgment, saying: "[The Daily Mirror and Sun] breached the Contempt of Court Act and the court has found that there was a risk of serious prejudice to any future trial."

Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, echoed the attorney general's warnings in March when he said that media focus on suspects in recent criminal cases had been "startling" and "far removed" from what it was just a few years ago.

Contempt of court proceedings are infrequently issued against newspapers. It is more unusual still for the attorney general to take action in defence of an individual who has not been charged.

Eight national newspapers separately issued a public apology to Jefferies over libellous claims made about him in the aftermath of his December arrest. The Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Record, Daily Mail, Daily Star, the Scotsman and Daily Express agreed to pay the retired public-school teacher damages.

Lawyers acting for Jefferies said he had been the victim of "regular witch hunts" in more than 40 articles in the tabloid papers. Bambos Tsiattalou, the solicitor who advised Jefferies after he was taken into police custody, said that the newspapers had ignored warnings to be careful about what they published.

FOAM pie protester ­Jonathan May-Bowles threw an insult at Rupert Murdoch yesterday after pleading guilty to assaulting him.

The comedian, 26, said: “I would like to say this has been the most humble day of my life.” Those were the words the News Corporation boss used at the Commons committee hearing into phone-hacking last week.

May-Bowles, of Windsor, Berks, also claimed police praised him for his foam attack on the media mogul.

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He tweeted after the Westminster magistrates hearing: “One said I was a legend.”

Sentencing was adjourned until Tuesday.

Head of press watchdog is next to resign over hacking

THE phone-hacking scandal claimed yet another high-profile scalp yesterday when Baroness Buscombe announced she is to quit as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
The Conservative peer will step down from her role following widespread criticism of the watchdog for mishandling the scandal.

Lady Buscombe will relinquish her post once a replacement is found, making her the latest in a succession of well-known figures who have become casualties of the controversy.

So far the scandal has led to the departure of several executives in the Murdoch empire, including Rebekah Brooks, senior Met Police officers and the closure of the UK's biggest selling newspaper the News of the World.

Yesterday it was announced that Lady Buscombe, who receives a six figure salary per year for working a three-day week, would not continue beyond her three-year term of office, which began in April 2009.

Lady Buscombe's tenure has been marred by criticism that she has failed to deal convincingly with the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World, an impression that was backed up by a recent unconvincing performance when she was interviewed by Andrew Neil on the BBC's Daily Politics Show.



Glenn Mulcaire 'followed News of the World orders' when phone hacking

The disgraced private detective at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal yesterday turned on his former employer and said the paper had been fully aware of everything he did for them.

In a strongly worded statement issued through his solicitors, Glenn Mulcaire said any suggestion that he acted "unilaterally" was "untrue".

The statement suggests that Mulcaire, who was jailed with former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman for accessing the voicemails of public figures in January 2007, is likely to accuse his former employees of commissioning all the phone hacking he did.

Coming just a day after it emerged that the phone number of Sara Payne had been discovered in his files, it also suggests that she may have been deliberately targeted by people at the paper.

Earlier this month, News International announced it was going to stop paying his legal fees "with immediate effect". The company had covered these since his arrest in 2006.

It was also announced yesterday that James Murdoch is likely to be recalled before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee to answer allegations made by former senior News International staff that he may have misled Parliament.

Colin Myler, the former editor of the News of the World, and Tom Crone, the paper's former legal manager, issued a public statement last week disputing evidence given by Mr Murdoch that he had been unaware of an email which implicated the paper's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck in the phone-hacking scandal when he authorised a payment of over £700,000 to a victim.

Yesterday, the chairman of the the Culture Committee, John Whittingdale, said that he intended to write to all three men asking detailed questions about the disputed events and added it was likely they would be recalled in order to give oral evidence.

"We have considered this morning the evidence we received last week from Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks, and subsequent statements by certain individuals have raised questions about some of the evidence we have received," he said.

"As a result we are going to write to ask for further details from various areas where evidence is disputed."

It was highly likely James Murdoch would be recalled to give evidence to the committee, he said, but he wanted to receive written evidence first. "I think the chances are that we will take oral evidence, but before doing so I want to get the answers to the detailed questions that we have," he said.

The committee is also likely to take evidence from Jon Chapman, formerly News International's head lawyer, who wrote to the committee saying that there had been "a number of serious inaccuracies" in the Murdochs' evidence.

The Labour MP Tom Watson, who has led the Parliamentary campaign against phone hacking, noted: "James Murdoch tried to resist our original invitation and had to be compelled."

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The hacking of Sara Payne's phone by News of the World would represent "the ultimate betrayal

The hacking of Sara Payne's phone by News of the World would represent "the ultimate betrayal", Tom Watson has said.

The MP, who sits on the Culture and Media Committee in the Commons, has led a campaign against phone hacking.

The mother of murder victim Sarah Payne has been told she may have been the victim of phone hacking, her charity has said.

Police told Sara Payne her details were in notes compiled by private detective Glenn Mulcaire, who was used by the News of the World, which championed her Sarah's Law child protection campaign.

Rebekah Brooks, who left her role as News International chief executive in the wake of the hacking scandal but denies having had any knowledge of the practice while at the paper has said in a statement: "These allegations are abhorrent and particularly upsetting as Sara Payne is a dear friend".

High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies.

Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which aggregates a large amount of the illegally copied material found on Usenet discussion forums.

The landmark case is the first time that an ISP has been ordered to block access to such a site.

It paves the way for other sites to be blocked as part of a major crackdown on piracy.

In his ruling, Justice Arnold stated: "In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes."

He continued: "It knows that the users of Newzbin2 include BT subscribers, and it knows those users use its service to receive infringing copies of copyright works made available to them by Newzbin2."

Creative victory
The Motion Picture Association, which represents a number of movie studios including Warner, Disney and Fox, launched the legal action as a last-ditch attempt to close down Newzbin 2.

Chris Marcich, President and Managing Director (EMEA), MPA said: "This ruling from Justice Arnold is a victory for millions of people working in the UK creative industries and demonstrates that the law of the land must apply online.

This court action was never an attack on ISPs but we do need their co-operation to deal with the Newzbin site which continually tries to evade the law and judicial sanction. Newzbin is a notorious pirate website which makes hundreds of thousands of copyrighted products available without permission and with no regard for the law."

MPA signalled its intention to pursue other ISPs.

Link sites such as Newzbin are gaining popularity as those determined to get their hands on free content move away from traditional peer-to-peer downloading methods.

A previous court case had ruled that Newzbin 2's predecessor must stop linking to free content but a new version of the site was set up outside of the UK's jurisdiction.

Revenge attacks
The judge ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed - which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse - to block Newzbin.

In an e-mail interview before the verdict, Newzbin 2 threatened to break BT's filters.

"We would be appalled if any group were to try to sabotage this technology as it helps to protect the innocent from highly offensive and illegal content," said a spokesman for BT.

The Internet Service Providers' Association has been a fierce critic of web blocking.

It said that using blocking technology, designed to protect the public from images of child abuse, was inappropriate.

"Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland," ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that."

The crackdown on piracy has gained new urgency in recent months.

Pressure from rightsholders forced new legislation on the issue.

The UK's controversial Digital Economy Act makes provisions for tough action against those who downloading pirated music and films - initially sanctioning a letter-writing campaign asking them to desist.

BT and TalkTalk called for a judicial review of the DEA, saying the legislation was rushed through parliament and was unenforceable but a judge ruled that it could go ahead.

Court action could be taken against individuals who ignore written warnings and 'technical measures' including disconnecting someone from the web could also follow.

The government is also considering the feasibility of more widespread site blocking.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The arrest of “News of the World” executive Rebekah Brooks, shows that the News Corp house of cards is falling fast.

The global media powerhouse News Corporation, run by controversial Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, is still reeling from the public embarrassment of an exposed phone hacking scandal at the now-defunct “News of the World.”

The arrest of “News of the World” executive Rebekah Brooks, shows that the News Corp house of cards is falling fast.

The British tabloid hacked into the voicemail of a 13-year-old murder victim and scores of others in the name of getting various scoops, and the hot headline that comes with it.

Murdoch himself was brought before Parliament, where he expressed regret for the actions of the paper he owns. He also apparently nodded off in his seat while others gave testimony.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Brooks is smack dab in the center of this controversy, which sheds new light on just how far Murdoch’s empire would go in its quest for media domination.

Investigators believe she knew about intercepting voice mails and bribing police officials, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (another Murdoch media outlet.) So far, no charges have been filed.

Brooks maintains she new little about the phone hacking during her tenure as the tabloid’s editor.

Her testimony describes a convoluted structure, one in which even the editor doesn’t know her reporters are using hacked phone conversations to get information about a huge story: the murder of a 13-year-old girl.

She says at no point during the ongoing coverage did she ask her lower-level editors, or the reporters, where they were getting their information. She said the night editor, news editor and “News of the World” lawyer would have been the ones to check sources, basically passing on the monster of a buck that lives at the heart of this scandal.

Payments Made to Police for Information

There’s also the matter of bribery. According to the Wall Street Journal, Brooks admitted to a parliamentary committee that during her time as editor of another Murdoch paper, The Sun, payments were made to police in exchange for information.

According to a report in the Guardian, detectives are also rummaging through the contents of Brooks’s husband’s computer in hopes of finding evidence that could help in the criminal investigation. Authorities reportedly asked for passwords and personal papers in the husband’s possession.

The fallout at News Corp. continues as more startling information comes forward. As investigations continue, it is anyone’s guess as to how deep the phone hacking and bribery scandals go, and whether they cross international lines into other News Corp. operations.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Amy Winehouse's unfinished final record is likely to receive a posthumous release.

As with so many artists before her, the singer's death has sparked a renewed interest in her career that will see her elevated to the pantheon of musical greats.
Within hours of Winehouse's death, her 2006 album Back To Black had topped the iTunes chart and fans flocked to buy her most famous single, Rehab.
Winehouse had spent the past two years working sporadically on a third album. Sources said that the songs were at demo stage but there was "a lot of material" available. Winehouse's parents, Mitch and Janis, will have the final say on its release and it is expected to outsell Back To Black's five million copies.
Industry experts described Winehouse as a true talent and said there would be huge demand for a posthumous album.
Phil Alexander, editor-in-chief of Mojo magazine, said: "It is inevitable that her death will elevate her reputation and that there will be a third record released.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Amy Winehouse has been found dead at her flat in north London at the age of 27

The singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead at her flat in north London at the age of 27. The award-winning artist, famous for hits including Rehab from the critically-acclaimed album Back to Black, was discovered by police in the late afternoon. Her death was being treated on Saturday night as "unexplained".

The Metropolitan police said: "Police were called by London ambulance service to an address in Camden Square shortly before 16.05hrs today, Saturday 23 July, following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene."

Winehouse was last seen with her goddaughter Dionne Bromfield earlier last week when the teenager performed at the iTunes festival.

Tributes have begun to pour in to one of the most celebrated and troubled British artists of recent times. Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton said on Twitter: "Can not believe the news. Amy was a special girl. The saddest news."

Singer and presenter Myleene Klass wrote: "OMG. Amy Winehouse. Exceptional talent and really nice lady. RIP."

Presenter Phillip Schofield added: "Just heard the sad news that Amy Winehouse has died. At only 27, what a terrible waste of a great talent. Sincere condolences to her family."

Singer and radio presenter Emma Bunton said: "Such sad news about Amy Winehouse. My thoughts are with her family."

Singer and actress Kelly Osbourne wrote: "i cant even breath right now im crying so hard i just lost 1 of my best friends. i love you forever Amy & will never forget the real you!"

Winehouse had suffered a well publicised battle with drink and drug abuse which saw her withdraw from all of her scheduled performances last month after a series of erratic performances.

She started her 12-leg European tour in Belgrade but was booed off the stage after appearing to forget her lyrics. She then pulled out of performances in Istanbul and Athens before she cancelled the tour.

A statement released by the troubled singer's spokesperson said that she would be given "as long as it takes" to recover. "Everyone involved wishes to do everything they can to help her return to her best and she will be given as long as it takes for this to happen."

Winehouse entered the Priory Clinic in May where she stayed for one week. She remained an outpatient there.

She rose to fame with her debut album Frank in 2003 which was feted by music critics in the UK and nominated for the Mercury music prize, but it was her 2006 follow-up album Back to Black which catapulted her to stardom and led to six Grammy awards. The album became the third-biggest selling album of the 2000s.

Winehouse had been working on her long-awaited new album for the past three years and spent a stint in St Lucia in 2009 working on new material.

Fears had been growing for Winehouse following her disastrous appearance in Belgrade last month. Three years ago in an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Winehouse's mother Janis said she would be unsurprised if her daughter died before her time.

She said: "I've known for a long time that my daughter has problems. But seeing it on screen rammed it home. I realise my daughter could be dead within the year. We're watching her kill herself, slowly.

"I've already come to terms with her death. I've steeled myself to ask her what ground she wants to be buried in, which cemetery. Because the drugs will get her if she stays on this road."

She added: "I look at Heath Ledger and Britney [Spears]. It's like watching a car crash – this person throwing all these gifts away."

Friday, 22 July 2011

Boris Berezovsky pays out £100m in UK's biggest divorce settlement

The Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and his ex-wife, Galina Besharova, have agreed to part company in Britain's largest ever divorce settlement. The court in London was not informed of the sum involved but it is understood that she received more than £100m from her ex-husband.

The couple, who both live in the UK, gave the reason for their split as his "unreasonable behaviour". The previous settlement record was the £48m paid by an insurance broker, John Charman, to his former wife, Beverley.

Besharova, 52, was represented by Deborah Levy, of WGS solicitors. The lawyer confirmed that the figure agreed was "the largest ever" in the UK but declined to reveal the precise amount.

"Parties have amicably resolved matters and are very keen to preserve their privacy," Levy said. Besharova and Berezovsky, 65, had previously obtained a divorce at an uncontested court hearing last July that lasted just 45 seconds.

She lives with their two teenage children in Kensington, west London, in a penthouse overlooking Hyde Park. He occupies the 172-acre Wentworth Park estate in Surrey which he shares with his partner of the past 15 years, Yelena Gorbunova, and their two children. Friday's proceedings, before Mrs Justice Eleanor King, were called to agree the terms of the settlement. There had been no pre-nuptial agreement.

Berezovsky and Besharova met in 1981 when he was a professor of mathematics in Moscow earning £60 a month. He later set himself up in business as a car dealer, founding the first Mercedes dealership in the old Soviet Union. He became one of the original Russian oligarchs as President Boris Yeltsin sold off state assets to favoured supporters for a fraction of their value.

Berezovsky married Besharova in 1991 after divorcing his first wife, Nina. Besharova was said to have spent only two years of the 18-year marriage with the exiled businessman, whose fortune was built up mainly after they had separated.

Although Berezovsky played a key role in ensuring Vladimir Putin's victory in the 2000 Russian presidential election, the two men fell out as Putin successfully wrested control of the country back from the so-called oligarchy, the small group of tycoons who had come to dominate the country's economy.

A few months after the election, Berezovsky fled Russia, and applied successfully for asylum in the UK after Alexander Litvinenko, an officer with the KGB's successor, the FSB, came forward to say he had been ordered to murder the tycoon.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

DAVID Cameron was yesterday hit by shock claims that a senior civil servant had his phone hacked while Andy Coulson was in No10.

The unnamed official is also said to have been put under surveillance and made the victim of hostile media briefing.

Ex-Labour minister Nick Raynsford hit out at the “disgraceful and illegal conduct” as he revealed the allegation in the Commons.

He told Mr Cameron: “A year ago during the period when Mr Coulson was director of communications, the Cabinet Secretary was alerted to evidence of illegal phone hacking, covert surveillance and hostile media briefing directed against a senior official in the Government service.

“What action, if any, was taken to investigate what appears to have been disgraceful and illegal conduct close to the heart of Government?”

Mr Cameron said he would “have to look closely” at the allegations. But he insisted there had been no complaints against Mr Coulson while he was working in No10.

Former News of the World editor Mr Coulson was forced to resign from Downing Street in January amid claims he was aware phone hacking took place while he was in charge of the paper – an allegation he has always denied.

The Mirror was told that the official – understood to be from the Department of Education – went to Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell with his fears that his phone was being hacked and that he was under surveillance.

It was claimed Sir Gus ordered Special Branch to investigate. A source said: “Special Branch told the official where the hacking was coming from and they had traced his phone and identified who was hacking it.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The Government would take any such accusations very seriously and would have referred them immediately to the police.

“However, this story is absolutely not true. No conversation took place – no one thinks it took place.”

Mr Raynsford said this claim was “extraordinary”. He added: “It is completely at odds with everything I have been told.”

Mr Cameron insisted that Mr Coulson had always behaved properly when in No10.

He said he accepted responsibility for employing him: “What I would say in my defence is that the time he spent in Downing Street he did not behave in a way that anyone felt was inappropriate.

“And that is important, because the decision was to employ him, the decision was then his to leave.

“During that period people cannot point to misconduct and say that, therefore, was a misjudgment.”

Rupert Murdoch's Fox News ran 'black ops' department, former executive claims

Dan Cooper, who helped launch Fox News as managing editor in 1996, said that a “brain room” carried out “counter intelligence” on the channel’s enemies from its New York headquarters.
He was threatened after it found out he spoke to a reporter, he claimed.
Another former senior executive said the channel ran a spying network on staff, reading their emails and making them “feel they were being watched”.
The channel, which has come under pressure amid allegations that outlets owned by Mr Murdoch might have attempted to hack the voicemail messages of September 11 victims, firmly denies all the allegations.
Mr Cooper, who left Fox News soon after its launch, provided a quote for a 1997 article about Roger Ailes, Fox News’s president, by the journalist David Brock in New York magazine.

The quote was not going to be attributed to him, but he alleges that before the article was published, Mr Cooper’s agent received a telephone call from Mr Ailes threatening to withdraw Fox’s business from all his clients.
“There are only two possible ways Ailes found out,” Mr Cooper said. “Either Brock told him or they got hold of Brock’s phone records and saw I spoke to him.”
He first alleged that the records were obtained by researchers in the “brain room” in 2005 in an article on his website about the launch of the channel.
“Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News,” he wrote. “I knew it also housed a counter intelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie.”
Mr Cooper said yesterday that he helped to design the high-security unit. “It was staffed by 15 researchers and had a guard at the door. No one working there would engage in conversation.”
Mr Cooper said he was “willing to consider the possibility” that Mr Brock named him, but added: “I assume he operates under journalistic ethics and protected a confidential source. Brock told me at the time that Ailes told him he would never work again if he wrote the article.”
Mr Brock now runs Media Matters, a Left-leaning American media watchdog. A spokesman for the group said: “He declines to comment.”
Another former Fox News senior executive, who did not wish to be named, said staff were forced to operate under conditions reminiscent of “Russia at the height of the Soviet era”.
“There is a paranoid atmosphere and they feel they are being watched,” said the former executive. “I have no doubt they are spying on emails to ensure no one is leaking to outside media.
“There is a unit of spies that reports up to the boss about who was talking to whom. A lot of people are scared that they’re going to get sidelined or even that they’re going to get killed.”
A Fox News spokesman said: “Each of these allegations is completely false. Dan Cooper was terminated six weeks after the launch of the Fox News Channel in 1996 and has peddled these lies for the past 15 years.”
The FBI is investigating allegations that journalists on a British newspaper may have tried to have September 11 victims’ phones hacked. Both former Fox News executives said they thought Mr Ailes would never have let his reporters do likewise.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Andy Coulson did not face the rigorous government security checks into his background that most recent Downing Street press chiefs have undergone, it emerged on Wednesday.

The former News of the World editor was granted only mid-level security clearance when he was appointed by David Cameron as his director of communications, so avoiding "developed vetting" involving a detailed interview by government investigators looking for anything in his past that could compromise him.

The checks would have involved a review of his personal finances and cross-examination by investigators of referees, who could include friends and family. Coulson would have been asked by government vetters, some of whom are former police officers, such questions as: "Is there anything else in your life you think it appropriate for us to know?"

Alastair Campbell and Dave Hill, who ran communications for Tony Blair, and Michael Ellam, who did the same job for Gordon Brown when he was prime minister, were all subject to the more rigorous checks which are said to be in part targeted at uncovering potentially damaging secrets in an employee's background.

In the Commons, Cameron said Coulson had gone through the "basic level of vetting" and was not able to see the "most secret documents in government".

The prime minister added: "It was all done in the proper way, he was subject to the special advisers' code of conduct."

The disclosure will fuel suggestions that Cameron failed to take proper steps to check allegations that Coulson had been involved in illegal behaviour at the NoW.

The Cabinet Office denied that Coulson was spared high-level security vetting to avoid any potentially embarrassing information coming out which could have compromised his appointment.

A spokesman declined to comment in detail on Coulson's security status but said he would have been consulted by a senior official over which level of vetting he should undergo. "In normal circumstances at a senior level the postholder would be consulted. You get the standard level and you discuss whether to go higher."

Jonathan Powell, Blair's former chief of staff, said: "In our time in No 10, the press officers were all cleared at the highest level. It is essential if you are going to work on international matters to be able to read intelligence and other relevant material."

The Cabinet Office said that, unlike Campbell and Powell, Coulson's job did not require him to have high-level security clearance. He did not attend cabinet meetings, the bi-weekly national security council meetings, or Cobra, the government's emergency committee.

"He had 'security check' level of security clearance which most officials in No 10 and most special advisers would be subject to," a spokesman said. "The only people who will be subject to developed vetting are those who are working in security matters regularly and would need to have that sort of information. The only special advisers that would have developed vetting would be in the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence and maybe the Home Office. Andy Coulson's role was different to Alastair Campbell's and Jonathan Powell. Alastair Campbell could instruct civil servants. This is why [Coulson] wasn't necessarily cleared. Given [the nature of] Andy Coulson's role as more strategic he wouldn't have neccesarily have been subject to developed vetting."

Coulson was also screened by a private company when he started working for the Conservatives in 2007. Asked in the Commons, Cameron refused to name the firm involved.

Electoral Commission returns show that the party last year used Control Risks Screening to vet several staff at a cost of £145.70 per check. If this is the level of vetting undergone by Coulson it is likely to have involved only the most cursory checks of online records.

The party said last night it would not comment on the company or the level of scrutiny involved in Coulson's clearance, which involves a check of health records, police files, financial history, MI5 records and possible interview if recommended by the security service.

Rupert Murdoch was accused today of gagging the royal family's lawyers amid claims that key evidence in the phone hacking and bribery scandals has been held back from MPs.

In a sensational statement, legal firm Harbottle & Lewis said it wanted to speak out but had been forbidden by its client, News International, which owned the News of the World. Senior MPs said they may order News International to release the lawyers from their duty of client confidentiality, to ensure all relevant information is revealed.

Harbottle & Lewis has represented royalty including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. Its statement was released hours after Mr Murdoch and former chief prosecutor Lord Macdonald gave evidence to MPs. It said: "News International representatives referred to our advice in their statements ... before the parliamentary select committee, both as a result of questioning and on their own account.

"We asked News International to release us from our professional duties of confidentiality in order that we could respond to any inaccurate statements or contentions and to explain events in 2007. News International declined that request, and so we are still unable to respond in any detail as to our advice or the scope of our instructions in 2007, which is a matter of great regret."

The firm's role in the affair has been critical. In 2007 it took possession of hundreds of internal emails from News International which are now known to contain incriminating material. The file was finally handed to the police on June 20 this year.

In evidence to the Commons culture committee, James Murdoch said he believed assurances from Harbottle & Lewis that the emails did not show wider evidence of criminality. But Lord Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions, told the home affairs committee it took him less that five minutes to find evidence of serious offences. "It was impossible to look at that file not to see crime in its face," he said. He went to the News International board this year, which agreed the police must be told.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs committee, said: "I will write to Harbottle & Lewis to ask if they wish to clarify any of the statements made about them by Lord Macdonald, or if they have any new evidence to put before the committee" Labour MP Tom Watson, from the culture committee, said: "Harbottle & Lewis must be able to speak out. If News International holds them to client confidentiality they will suffer catastrophic reputational damage. We are inching closer to the truth and this will help us."

Fresh evidence from the lawyers could shed light on News International's failure to give police incriminating material until recently. The files were reviewed in 2007 by the company's legal director, John Chapman, and Daniel Cloke, former human resources director. John Yates, the assistant Met commissioner who resigned this week, told MPs: "the facts appear to be that News International have deliberately covered up" evidence.

Lord Macdonald said the file was put together in 2007 when Clive Goodman, former royal reporter at NoW, was bringing an unfair dismissal claim against News International. He said Harbottle & Lewis were "asked to give an opinion as to whether that information that had been gathered supported phone hacking".

Met to hand alleged phone-hacking notes to Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan

The Metropolitan police has been ordered by the high court to hand over information to Hugh Grant and Jemima Khan in relation to the alleged hacking of their voicemail messages by an investigator hired by the News of the World and other newspapers.

Mr Justice Vos told the court on Wednesday it was "expedient and proper" that information relating to messages allegedly intercepted by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire should be disclosed.

Grant and Khan had been contacted by the police "informally" with "details of the material which indicates there may have been interception of their telephone messages", the court heard.

David Sherborne representing Grant and Khan, also requested information held by Scotland Yard relating to the "passing of material about the claimants to other newspapers".

This is the first time newspapers other than the News of the World could potentially be drawn into the phone-hacking scandal as a result of the civil actions for invasion of privacy being brought by celebrities and other public figures.

The application for the disclosure of the material was not opposed by the police commissioner.

The high court also ordered the disclosure of former News of the World reporter Clive Goodman's notes in relation to his work as royal editor and the Blackadder gossip column he wrote at the paper.

Four years ago Goodman was sentenced to four months in jail after pleading guilty to intercepting phone messages. Mulcaire was sentenced to six months after pleading guilty to the same charge.

Neither Grant nor Khan were at the 20-minute hearing in London.


Rebekah Brooks’ husband has denied accusations of a cover up after police seized a bag containing a laptop computer and personal documents stashed in a bin near their London flat.

Suspicions were raised when Charlie Brooks, the racehorse trainer, who is married to the former News International CEO, attempted to reclaim the items, which were found by a security guard in the underground car park of the Design Centre close to their apartment block.
Detectives began examining the items amid concern that they could prove important in the phone hacking inquiry and fears were raised that they could have been deliberately dumped.
But last night Mr Brooks insisted the laptop and other items had nothing to do with his wife and said they had simply been misplaced following a mix-up with a friend.
He said an associate, who had been returning his bag, had accidentally left it in the car park, where it had inadvertently been placed with some rubbish.
When a security guard was made aware of the bag, he immediately alerted the police who seized the items for further analysis.


Jonathan May-Bowles – aka Jonnie Marbles – to appear before magistrates court on Friday

The protester accused of throwing a paper plate of shaving foam at Rupert Murdoch as he gave evidence to MPs has been charged with a public order offence.

Jonathan May-Bowles, 26, of Windsor, Berkshire, was bailed to appear before City of Westminster magistrates court on Friday.

He is charged with behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress in a public place under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, Scotland Yard said.

May-Bowles, who goes by the name of Jonnie Marbles, was on Tuesday night suspended from the Labour party.

The incident occurred as Murdoch addressed the Commons culture, media and sport Committee.

A man who had been sitting at the back of the Wilson room in Portcullis House in Westminster listening to Murdoch and his son James give evidence, was seen to get up and walk around the left side of the packed room to get to where the media mogul was sitting.

He threw a paper plate with white foam piled on top at Murdoch's face

Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, leapt to her husband's defence, first pushing the attacker away and then throwing the plate at him as he was led away by police.

The incident was condemned by audience members and MPs including the Commons Speaker, John Bercow.


Rupert Murdoch's company was guilty of ‘deliberately thwarting’ the criminal investigation into the News of the World, according to a hard-hitting report published today


The Home Affairs Select Committee study ‘deplores’ the behaviour of News International and condemns the police for bungling their investigation and getting too close to the Murdoch empire.

The report raises questions about the honesty of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and Andy Hayman, who oversaw the original 2006 police probe of the newspaper.

Withering: MPs said they 'deplored' the response of News International to the original hacking investigation

In a withering assessment, the MPs say: ‘We deplore the response of News International to the original investigation into hacking.

‘It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that they were deliberately trying to thwart a criminal investigation. We are astounded at the length of time it has taken for News International to co-operate with the police.’

What the Murdochs DIDN'T say that spoke volumes: Body language expert exposes chalk and cheese double act... while 'frail and submissive Rebekah Brooks is full of remorse'
'I DID use private detectives at News of the World,' admits Brooks as she claims she only found out about Milly phone hacking a fortnight ago
The report points out that Mrs Brooks’s denial of knowledge of phone hacking ‘is limited to her time as editor of News of the World’, a small part of her career in News International.

And it also raises concerns about her knowledge of illegal payments to corrupt police officers. ‘She did not say that she had no knowledge of specific payments but that she had not intended to give the impression that she had knowledge of specific cases,’ the MPs conclude.

The report raises issues about the honesty of Rebekah Brooks, left, and former assistant Met commissioner Andy Hayman, right

The committee condemns the police, singling out former assistant Met commissioner Mr Hayman,  criticising his handling of the case, his social contacts with News International executives and his decision to take a job with the firm after leaving the police.

It said: ‘Mr Hayman’s conduct during the investigation and during our evidence session was both unprofessional and inappropriate.’

● Police officers will be jailed for accepting cash bribes from News of the World journalists, MPs were told yesterday.

The newspaper is alleged to have paid tens of thousands of pounds to officers who supplied information.

Asked by MPs on a parliamentary committee if any officers would go to prison, the outgoing assistant  commissioner of the Met Police, John Yates, replied: ‘If the corruption cases, which are very small in number, are properly investigated, I have no doubt.’

Mr Yates resigned from the force on Monday after he was told he faced suspension over his links to the newspaper.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Tiger wife. Power vegan. Volleyball player. The spouse of media mogul Robert Murdoch is no pushover.

Rupert Murdoch's 42-year-old wife, Wendi Deng, who had been sitting right behind her husband during a inquisition with the House of Commons Select Committee on Tuesday, leaped forward to stop a protester from smashing a pie into her husband's face.
The protester, covered in white foam, was hauled away and the session was suspended.
No sooner had Deng straightened her pink couture jacket, Twitter messages buzzed worldwide, ranging from “Go Wendi” to “Wendi Deng. Tiger Wife!”
The chairman of the parliamentary committee even commented on her defense skill: "Mr. Murdoch, your wife has a very good left hook," The Hollywood Reporter reported.
Murdoch and his son, James Murdoch, had spent the day repeatedly telling British lawmakers that they were not responsible for a phone hacking scandal that has rocked the Murdoch empire.
Story: Brooks, Murdochs apologetic — and on defensive
Parbul  /  AFP - Getty Images
News Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch, front right, and his son James giving evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee on the phone hacking scandal. Murdoch's wife, Wendi Deng, is in pink.
Details emerged of the woman behind the power hit.
Deng was born in Shandong, China, in 1968 to engineer parents. She was named Wen Ge, which is shorthand for "Cultural Revolution."
She played volleyball in China.
She married Jake Cherry, who along with his first wife had sponsored her student visa in 1988, The Business Insider reported. They divorced years later.
She studied at Cal State before earning an MBA from Yale University.
Deng met Murdoch at a News Corp. party in Hong Kong in 1997. They married in 1999, weeks after his former marriage was dissolved.
News Corp. paid Deng $92,000 in 2010 for "strategic advice" on MySpace's expansion into China, according to the Insider.
Deng is Murdoch's third wife, and they live in Manhattan. They have two daughters, Grace and Chloe.
She produced the film “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which opened last week. At a weekend showing at the Southampton UA theater that Deng hosted, guests included Barbara Walters, Rudy Giuliani and designer Tori Burch.

Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the News Of The World when the paper allegedly hacked Milly Dowler's phone, has said she first heard about the claims two weeks ago.

Speaking at a Commons committee hearing, Mrs Brooks denied any knowledge of the allegations before they appeared in the press.
It is claimed she was at the helm when the murdered schoolgirl's voicemails were illegally accessed by the tabloid following her abduction in 2002.
Mrs Brooks, said she found it "staggering to believe" that anyone at the News of the World (NOTW) could have authorised it.
She said at the time of Milly's disappearance she believed that the press had acted with "huge caution" and done its best to respect the family's privacy.
Explaining the moment she heard of the claims about Milly's phone, she said: "My instant reaction, like everybody else, was one of shock and disgust."

Milly Dowler's phone was allegedly hacked by the NOTW
Mrs Brooks said for "a family who had suffered so much already, these allegations clearly added immeasurably to their suffering".
"The first thing I did was write to Mr and Mrs Dowler with a full apology to say that we would get to the bottom of the allegations."
She added: "The idea that Milly Dowler's phone was accessed by someone being paid by the News of the World, or even worse authorised by someone at the News of the World, is as abhorrent to me as it is to everyone in this room.
"And it is an ultimate regret that the speed in which we have tried to find out the bottom of these investigations has been too slow."
Police have said there could be almost 4,000 hacking victims.
Mrs Brooks is one of a number of people arrested by officers investigating the claims. She was later released on bail.
Among those who may have had their phone hacked are families of those who died in the 7/7 bombings.
Mrs Brooks said allegations that the NOTW illegally accessed the voicemails of victims of crime were "horrific".

Charlie Brooks's kriotherapy freeze-treatment service at health spa Champneys

Buried in the torrent of revelations about News International is the interesting fact that Rebekah Brooks's husband, Charlie, runs a "kriotherapy" centre at Champneys, the spa that played a part in Sir Paul Stephenson's demise after revelations that he enjoyed a free five-week stay there. Is "kriotherapy" legitimate enough to be allowed out without its "scare quotes" on, or are the Brooks family backing another less-than-reputable product?

"Kriotherapy" is an innovative take on America's "cryotherapy", with a "k" instead of a "c" to make it sound cooler – like Krispy Kreme donuts, but marginally healthier. People take off most of their clothes, sit in front of a fan for a bit to dry their skin, and then lark about for a few minutes in a freezer set to more than a hundred degrees below zero. The treatments are offered by Champneys for fitness, body-sculpting, injury rehabilitation, and general wellbeing, with specific claims that it can help with depression, infertility, psoriasis and insomnia.

The treatment has had a huge amount of publicity in the press, with features in the Independent, Telegraph and FHM. Articles about it tend to follow a particular pattern: 1) reporter seeks treatment on the trail of a celebrity aficionado (Tony Blair, Jason Orange, Frank Bruno, you know the type), 2) reporter puts on silly outfit and feels a bit nervous, 3) reporter goes into the freezer and comes out feeling all tingly and invigorated, much as you would if you'd had a bucket of ice cold water tipped over your head.


Don't blame me - I only own the firm

Disgraced media mogul Rupert Murdoch denied today that he was responsible for phone hacking and the bribery of police officers by News International staff.

A shambling Mr Murdoch told a committee of MPs he was not aware that former News of the World Editor Rebekah Brooks had admitted in 2003 that the paper paid police officers.

During forensic questioning from Labour MP Tom Watson in the culture, media and sport select committee Mr Murdoch was asked whether he had been "misled" by senior employees.

"Clearly," he replied.

Mr Watson pointed out that former News International chief executive Ms Brooks admitted in 2003 that police had been paid for information.

Mr Murdoch said: "I am now aware of that. I was not aware at the time.

"I'm also aware that she amended that very quickly afterwards."

Mr Watson said: "I think she amended it seven or eight years afterwards but did you or anyone else in your organisation investigate it at the time?"

Mr Murdoch replied: "No. I didn't know of it."

Asked why he had not sacked News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck after the Max Mosley civil case, when the judge found he had blackmailed two prostitutes involved, Rupert Murdoch replied: "I have never heard of him."

Mr Watson asked him why he thought he had not been informed of such a serious case by News International executives.

"Do you think this was because they thought you would think nothing of it?" he asked.

Quizzed by Jim Sheridan MP, Mr Murdoch denied that he was ultimately responsible for the "fiasco."

Asked who was, he replied: "The people that I trusted and then, maybe, the people they trusted."

Mr Murdoch also revealed he had been invited to have a cup of tea as a thank you by the Prime Minister within days of the general election last year.

He denied imposing any "preconditions" on party leaders before giving them support.

He also denied exerting influence over his editors.

In a brief opening statement Mr Murdoch had claimed: "This is the most humble day of my life."

Sitting alongside his son James he said he was "more than prepared" to answer the committee's questions on the phone hacking scandal.

James Murdoch, News Corp's deputy chief operating officer, began by saying how sorry he and his father were to the victims in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

"It is a matter of great regret of mine, my father's and everyone at News Corporation.

"These actions do not live up to the standards our company aspires to everywhere around the world," he said.

He said the company had acted "as swiftly and transparently as possible" as soon as it became aware of fresh evidence over phone hacking after a series of civil actions in 2010, particularly the case involving actor Sienna Miller.

A small group of protesters gathered outside Portcullis House wearing Rupert Murdoch, Sir Paul Stephenson and David Cameron masks.

One held a placard emblazoned with the slogan "smash Murdoch's evil empire."

A number of protesters also gained access to the committee room and had to be ejected before proceedings commenced.


Anonymous releases Rebekah Brooks’ email address and password

Online activism group Anonymous has released a host of email addresses and passwords it claims belong to senior News International executives past and present, including the company’s embattled former chief Rebekah Brooks. The hackers said that they also have a collection of emails stolen from News International servers, which they say they are “sitting on”.

The hackers said that “anyone who can find [Ms Brooks'] webmail account” could use the details to access her emails. In an attack apparently linked to the phone hacking scandal currently engulfing News International, the hackers also defaced The Sun’s website, redirecting visitors to a fake site, running spoof stories that News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch had been found dead.

The group released details it said belong to The Sun’s Editorial Manager for online content, Danny Rogers; former News of the World Managing Editor Bill Akass and another it claimed was a Sun staff-member, but whose identity could not be verified as of Monday night. It also released mobile phone numbers of three people it said were News International staff.

And in a further twist, one of the hackers responsible for the attack warned that media outlets, until now protected from attack, would become targets. Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Sabu – rumoured to have been the mastermind behind the LulzSec project – said: “We thoroughly scrutinize the media for bullshit reporting, lax investigative efforts. Mind you, you think The Sun is the only one?

“New York Times, Forbes, LA Times, we’re going in.” However, it is unclear for what reason, specifically, those outlets have been targeted.

In another attack, members of an Anonymous operation named OpBritain took down The Times’ website, as well as a site it described as a “fan site” for Rupert Murdoch. Hackers working within OpBritian, an operation carried out by Anonymous, hit and with denial of service attacks.

On Monday night, a News International spokesman said: “We are aware and our technical teams are working on it.”


Monday, 18 July 2011

Did Rebekah Brooks Try to Ditch Her Computer, Notes and Phone?

A day before Rebekah Brooks is set to appear before a Parliament select committee, she or her husband Charlie may have left an extra piece of evidence for law-enforcement officials to probe.

A bag holding a computer, paperwork and a phone was found in a garbage can by the security guard in an underground garage “yards” from Brooks’ home. The Guardian is reporting that Charlie had tried to claim the bag but was unable to prove it was his.

Brooks said the bag was in a bin because a cleaning person must have thought it was garbage. After he left, the security guard at the garage called the police.

Brooks’ spokesman has denied that the bag had anything to do with Rebekah or the phone-hacking scandal. Rebekah, former chief executive of News Corp.’s British publishing arm News International, was arrested on Sunday in connection with the hacking scandal.

She will appear before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Tuesday morning with Rupert and James Murdoch, her former bosses, testifying immediately after.


News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower found dead

Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.

Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home.

Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but the force said in a statement: "At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for the welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

"The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing."

Hoare first made his claims in a New York Times investigation into the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World.

He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.

In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson's insistence that he didn't know about the practice was "a lie, it is simply a lie".

At the time a Downing Street spokeswoman said Coulson totally and utterly denied the allegations and said he had "never condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place".

Sean Hoare, a one-time close friend of Coulson's, told the New York Times the two men first worked together at the Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson. At the News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his activities. Coulson "actively encouraged me to do it", Hoare said.

In September last year, he was interviewed under caution by police over his claims that the former Tory communications chief asked him to hack into phones when he was editor of the paper, but declined to make any comment.

Hoare returned to the spotlight last week, after he told the New York Times that reporters at the News of the World were able to use police technology to locate people using their mobile phone signals in exchange for payments to police officers.

He said journalists were able to use a technique called "pinging" which measured the distance between mobile handsets and a number of phone masts to pinpoint its location.

Hoare gave further details about the use of "pinging" to the Guardian last week. He described how reporters would ask a news desk executive to obtain the location of a target: "Within 15 to 30 minutes someone on the news desk would come back and say 'right that's where they are.'"

He said: "You'd just go to the news desk and they'd just come back to you. You don't ask any questions. You'd consider it a job done. The chain of command is one of absolute discipline and that's why I never bought into it, like with Andy saying he wasn't aware of it and all that. That's bollocks."

He said he would stand by everything he had told the New York Times about "pinging". "I don't know how often it happened. That would be wrong of me. But if I had access as a humble reporter … "

He admitted he had had problems with drink and drugs and had been in rehab. "But that's irrelevant," he said. "There's more to come. This is not going to go away."

Hoare named a private investigator who he said had links with the News of the World, adding: "He may want to talk now because I think what you'll find now is a lot of people are going to want to cover their arse."

Speaking to another Guardian journalist last week, Hoare repeatedly expressed the hope that the hacking scandal would lead to journalism in general being cleaned up and said he had decided to blow the whistle on the activities of some of his former News of the World colleagues with that aim in mind.

He also said he had been injured the previous weekend while taking down a marquee erected for a children's party. He said he had broken his nose and badly injured his foot when a relative accidentally struck him with a heavy pole from the marquee.

Hoare also emphasised that he was not making any money from telling his story. Hoare, who has been treated for drug and alcohol problems, reminisced about partying with former pop stars and said he missed the days when he was able to go out on the town.


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Metropolitan Police chief Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned.

Sir Paul announced his resignation at a press conference this evening in the wake of revelations that he received a £12k spa break where News of the World hacking suspect Neil Wallis was a PR consultant.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner was already under pressure after it emerged that he hired Mr Wallis as a PR consultant for the force.

Scotland Yard denied that it was the 60-year-old ex-journalist who had arranged the stay for the top officer as he recovered from surgery.

Stephen Purdew the managing director laid on the stay at the resort to provide him with the accommodation.

But the disclosure will raise further questions about Sir Paul's judgment, days after he faced a dressing down from London Mayor Boris Johnson over the PR contract.

Mid-range premier double rooms at the exclusive health resort cost £598 per person in Tring, Hertfordshire.

Neil Wallis - known as Wolfman for his no-nonsense approach in the newsroom - was paid £24,000 by the Met Police in 2009 and 2010 for 'provide strategic communication advice and support'.

His contract was cancelled less than six months before the launch of the Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking.

The ex-journalist, who was Andy Coulson's deputy editor, was arrested on suspicion of intercepting mobile phones in a dawn swoop on his home in Chiswick, west London on Thursday. He was later released on bail.

After leaving the News of the World in 2009, Mr Wallis had created the set up his own PR consultancy Chamy Media.

Rebekah Brooks, the schmoozer hated by Murdoch's wife and daughter

Who would have imagined when Lewis Carroll wrote Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland in 1865 that the Cheshire village of Daresbury where he lived would one day produce its own real-life Alice?

Her name was Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) and her tugboat-man father could have had no idea when his only child was born in 1968 that she would step — or rather schmooze — into a world of princes, prime ministers and proprietors, every bit as hazardous as Alice’s.

This was the media wonderland run by Rupert Murdoch, and until yesterday he made sure that no harm would come to the girl he has virtually treated as another daughter (he has four real daughters, from three marriages).

No love lost: Elisabeth Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are not close friends and Ms Murdoch has even suggested in the wake of the scandal that she has f***** the company

Asked for his priority when arriving in Britain on the day he shut the News of the World to handle the phone hacking and police-bribing scandals, he gestured at the smiling, ever-attendant Rebekah standing next to him and replied: ‘This one.’ So the grief and frustration felt by the 80-year-old mogul would have been immense yesterday as his cherished Rebekah bowed to the inevitable and resigned from her role as News International’s chief executive.

How different things might have been had she stepped down at the start of the crisis. It might have stopped the News of the World closing and hundreds working there from losing their jobs.


Murdoch admits I've let my father down as he makes emotional apology to Milly's family
Yet Murdoch’s feelings of loss won’t be shared by the women in his family. Daughter Elisabeth, a year younger than Rebekah Brooks and almost as tough, is understood to have fulminated at her handling of the scandal, telling friends that Mrs Brooks had ‘f*****’ the company. And last month when Murdoch’s young and glamorous third wife Wendi failed to turn up at his summer party at London’s Kensington Gardens, friends murmured darkly that it was ‘because Rebekah will be there’.

But then observers believe Rebekah Brooks’s remarkably swift rise in the company was due not so much to her talents as a journalist but to her single-minded ruthlessness and her dazzling, feline ability to charm. ‘Rebekah schmoozes in one direction only — up,’ says one of her oldest acquaintances. ‘I don’t know anyone who is better at love-bombing, when it matters. I wouldn’t think Rupert stood a chance.’

Father figure: Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch have a very close relationship, leading to even Murdoch's wife Wendi avoiding functions that she attends

She and Murdoch went for swims together, they sailed together. When a surprised colleague asked: ‘Who sails?’ she replied simply: ‘The Murdochs.’ She talked to Murdoch every day. When he walked into a room at a business or social gathering, she was at his side.

‘It’s always been obvious that he feels like a father figure to her,’ says one of his circle. At social functions she was his ‘part nurse, part protector,’ says one of the circle. ‘On one occasion, I even heard her asking him: “Have you taken your pills, Rupert?”’

‘She watches over him and makes sure he is comfortable with whoever he’s talking to; making sure his glass is filled. Rupert’s not young any more, and it was clear that the older he got the more he relied on her. She made herself indispensable.’

But then, being indispensable was her speciality — during her years as editor of the News of the World and The Sun, she made herself indispensable to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, in turn. She went to their parties and they certainly made sure they went to hers.

No one could say that Rebekah Brooks did not live up to a reputation which, frankly, scared even powerful men — not to mention the staff who remember her, as an editor, demanding they do ‘whatever it takes’ to bring in exclusive stories.


Ex-News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has been arrested by police investigating phone hacking and bribery at the News of the World.

The 43-year-old was arrested by appointment at a London police station and remains in custody.

She was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption allegations.

She quit News International on Friday as pressure mounted over her role.

Mrs Brooks was editor of the paper between 2000 and 2003, during which time the phone belonging to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was tampered with.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said sources had confirmed it was Mrs Brooks who had been arrested, but Scotland Yard refused to name the woman.

Our correspondent also said News International was not aware that Mrs Brooks would be arrested when her resignation was being discussed at the company on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. She eventually resigned on Friday.

The BBC's Mark Sanders: "This is a very fresh and intriguing development"
A spokesman for Mrs Brooks says the Met police notified her on Friday, after her resignation had been agreed, that she would be arrested.

Committee appointment
It is the tenth arrest made by Operation Weeting police who are conducting the current investigation into phone hacking.

Officers from Operation Elveden were also involved with the arrest. They are investigating allegations of inappropriate payments to police, an inquiry which is being supervised by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Mrs Brooks is due to appear in front of the Commons media select committee on Tuesday to answer MPs questions on the hacking scandal.

Mrs Brooks' spokesman said her arrest would make her appearance at the committee "pretty tricky".

Her former boss News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, chairman of News International, are also due to appear.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Hollywood actor Jude Law was on Saturday reported to be suing The Sun newspaper

Hollywood actor Jude Law was on Saturday reported to be suing The Sun newspaper for allegedly hacking into his voice mails for stories about his private life.

The tabloid is published by Rupert Murdoch's media group News International which is already at the centre of a storm over phone hacking allegations relating to the News of the World.

The News International rejected Mr. Law's claim describing it as “a deeply cynical and deliberately mischievous attempt” to drag The Sun into the hacking scandal that forced the closure of NoW last week.


In a statement, the company said: “The allegations have been carefully investigated by our lawyers and the evidence shows they have no foundation whatsoever.'' Mr. Law's legal team dismissed the accusations of cynicism and mischief by News International as “ridiculous''. “Their record speaks for itself,'' said his lawyer. Rebekah Brooks, who resigned as chief executive of News International on Friday, was Editor of The Sun at the time Mr. Law claims his phone was hacked. It was also under her watch that alleged malpractices at NoW took place.

Scotland Yard evidence room:treasure-trove of evidence: 11,000 pages of handwritten notes listing nearly 4,000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and crime victims whose phones may have been hacked by The News of the World

For nearly four years they lay piled in a Scotland Yard evidence room, six overstuffed plastic bags gathering dust and little else.

Inside was a treasure-trove of evidence: 11,000 pages of handwritten notes listing nearly 4,000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and crime victims whose phones may have been hacked by The News of the World, a now defunct British tabloid newspaper.

Yet from August 2006, when the items were seized, until the autumn of 2010, no one at the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly referred to as Scotland Yard, bothered to sort through all the material and catalog every page, said former and current senior police officials.

During that same time, senior Scotland Yard officials assured Parliament, judges, lawyers, potential hacking victims, the news media and the public that there was no evidence of widespread hacking by the tabloid. They steadfastly maintained that their original inquiry, which led to the conviction of one reporter and one private investigator, had put an end to what they called an isolated incident.

After the past week, that assertion has been reduced to tatters, torn apart by a spectacular avalanche of contradictory evidence, admissions by News International executives that hacking was more widespread, and a reversal by police officials who now admit to mishandling the case.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates of the Metropolitan Police Service publicly acknowledged that he had not actually gone through the evidence. “I’m not going to go down and look at bin bags,” Mr. Yates said, using the British term for trash bags.

At best, former Scotland Yard senior officers acknowledged in interviews, the police have been lazy, incompetent and too cozy with the people they should have regarded as suspects. At worst, they said, some officers might be guilty of crimes themselves.

“It’s embarrassing, and it’s tragic,” said a retired Scotland Yard veteran. “This has badly damaged the reputation of a really good investigative organization. And there is a major crisis now in the leadership of the Yard.”

The testimony and evidence that emerged last week, as well as interviews with current and former officials, indicate that the police agency and News International, the British subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the publisher of The News of the World, became so intertwined that they wound up sharing the goal of containing the investigation.

Members of Parliament said in interviews that they were troubled by a “revolving door” between the police and News International, which included a former top editor at The News of the World at the time of the hacking who went on to work as a media strategist for Scotland Yard.

On Friday, The New York Times learned that the former editor, Neil Wallis, was reporting back to News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case.

Executives and others at the company also enjoyed close social ties to Scotland Yard’s top officials. Since the hacking scandal began in 2006, Mr. Yates and others regularly dined with editors from News International papers, records show. Sir Paul Stephenson, the police commissioner, met for meals 18 times with company executives and editors during the investigation, including on eight occasions with Mr. Wallis while he was still working at The News of the World.

Senior police officials declined several requests to be interviewed for this article.

The police have continually asserted that the original investigation was limited because the counterterrorism unit, which was in charge of the case, was preoccupied with more pressing demands. At the parliamentary committee hearing last week, the three officials said they were working on 70 terrorist investigations.

Yet the Metropolitan Police unit that deals with special crimes, and which had more resources and time available, could have taken over the case, said four former senior investigators. One said it was “utter nonsense” to argue that the department did not have enough resources.

Another senior investigator said officials saw the inquiry as being in “safe hands” at the counterterrorism unit.


Friday, 15 July 2011

Rebecca Brooks flame-haired Queen of Fleet Street


The flame haired, 43-year-old ability to get the scoop and rise up the corporate ladder were down to a potent mix of ruthlessness and dazzling charm.
Rebekah Brooks resigns as chief executive of News International in wake of phone-hacking scandal
That and an extraordinary ability to make friends in high places that meant the guest list to her wedding two years ago read like a Who's Who of modern Britain.
She has risen from the very bottom to the very top of the profession.
She started life as a secretary and 22 years later ended up as the right hand woman of the most powerful man in world of journalism.
The fact it took 12 days before she was finally let go from New International shows how far she has ingratiated herself in to the Rupert Murdoch family.

Many believe he sacrificed the News of the World in an attempt to save his "adopted daughter"
Mrs Brooks, then Wade, grew up in a middle class home in the village of Daresbury – nestled between the industrial Cheshire towns of Runcorn and Warrington.
An only child, she attended Appleton Hall County Grammar School and it was here, at 14, that she decided to become a journalist.
She began working weekends at Eddy Shah’s Messenger Group in Warrington, "making tea and helping out".
After taking her A-levels she travelled to Paris, where she found a temporary job on the architecture and art journal L’architecture d’Aujourd’hui.
Her Who’s Who entry claims that while in the French capital she attended the Sorbonne.
Rather than a full degree, she appears to have enrolled on a six month culture, literature and language course for foreign students.
Back in the UK, Mrs Brook’s first break came with the help of a friend of her father Robert.
The friend was one of a number of former Daily Star executives hired by Mr Shah to run his new tabloid, The Post.
He got her a job as a secretary, but she displayed a hunger to make a name for herself.
Her then colleague Tim Minogue, now a journalist on Private Eye, said: "She was very bright, very intelligent, but instead of taking memos she was always bombarding the features editor with ideas for stories. I’ve never met anyone so ambitious."
One of her early triumphs came when she volunteered to drive 900 miles in 48 hours in her ageing Renault 5 to pick up a crate of an "aphrodisiac beer" form a Strasbourg brewery, which
The Post wanted to give away as a prize.
It was this sort of mix of dogged determination and initiative that helped make her name when, aged 20, she moved to London and joined the News Of the World, first as a secretary and then a feature writer on its Sunday magazine.
Mrs Brooks rose to become the paper’s deputy editor, forging a strong friendship with its editor, Piers Morgan.
She was quickly spotted by Rupert Murdoch, who admired her drive and unswerving loyalty to the company.
So close did they become that the pair regularly swam together when he was in London and she came to be regarded as his fifth – and favourite – daughter.
In 1998 she was appointed deputy editor of The Sun, before returning to the News of the World as editor in 2000.
In 2003 she became The Sun’s first female editor and one her first day ran a picture of topless Page Three model Rebekah Parmar-Teasdale, captioned "Rebekah from Wapping, 22", a sign she had put aside reported objections to Page 3.
The previous year she had married Ross Kemp, the EastEnders actor. In a bizarre incident in 2005 she was arrested after allegedly assaulting Mr Kemp, though police released her without charge.
She reportedly walked into her office the next day – straight from the police station – asked "much going on?" then declared that she had personally supplied a great front page story for Rupert Murdoch, who was in London at the time.
In June 2009 – the same month The Guardian broke the phone hacking story which would come back to haunt her and destroy the News of the World – it was announced that she would become News International’s chief executive from the following September.
At the same time Mrs Brook, said never to forget a name, was moving in elevated social circles.
She attended the Prince of Wales’s 50th birthday party at Highgrove and counted the Blairs among her circle of friends.
It was Mrs Brooks to whom Mrs Blair revealed her pregnancy with her son Leo.
There were dinners with Bono, the campaigner and U2 singer, and a "sleepover" with Sarah Brown at Chequers.
Following her divorce from Mr Kemp, she married former jockey Charlie Brooks.
The couple are at the heart of what has come to be known as "the Chipping Norton set", which includes the PR mogul Matthew Freud, his wife Elizabeth Murdoch, Rupert’s daughter, along with Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha, whose constituency house is close to the Brooks’ country home in the Oxfordshire town.
Others in the set include Alex James of Blur, Jeremy Clarkson, Sir Anthony Bamford, the founder of JCB, and Emily Oppenheimer Turner, of the De Beers diamond dynasty.
But it is her friendship with Mr Cameron – and the influence it brought News International – which has now become one of the most controversial aspects of the News of the World affair.
The pair are said to have gone riding together and in February this year it was disclosed that Mr Cameron had spent an evening during Christmas at the Brooks’s.
All of these friends are now likely to be dragged into the "phone hacking" scandal.
But it is unlikely many will phone to say thank you.


Rebekah Brooks has resigned as News International chief executive, the company has confirmed.

Here is the full statement from News Corporation:

"News Corporation today announced the appointment of Tom Mockridge to the role of Chief Executive Officer of News International.

"Mr Mockridge will assume responsibility for his new role with immediate effect following the resignation of Rebekah Brooks.

"Mr Mockridge joins News International from Sky Italia where he has been Chief Executive Officer since launch in 2003. He was also Chief Executive European Television of News Corporation, overseeing News Corporation’s television operations in Europe, outside of the UK.

"Laura Cioli, Chief Operating Officer, and Domenico Labianca, Chief Finance Officer, will assume Mr Mockridge’s responsibilities on an interim basis, reporting to James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and CEO, International, News Corporation.

"Prior to joining Sky Italia, Mr Mockridge was Chief Executive of the publicly-listed New Zealand company, Independent Newspapers, and Chairman of Sky New Zealand.

"He previously held various roles at Star Group Limited and spent three years as Chief Executive Officer of Foxtel, News Corporation’s Australian pay TV joint venture. Mr Mockridge joined News Corporation in January 1991, working for Ken Cowley, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Australian newspaper company News Limited. Before that, he was a spokesperson in the Australian government.

"He started his career as a newspaper journalist in New Zealand.

"Mr Mockridge is also a non-executive director of BSkyB and a member of the Supervisory Board of Sky Deutschland.

"James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Chairman and CEO, International, News Corporation, said: 'Tom is an outstanding executive with unrivalled experience across our journalism and television businesses.

"'He has proven himself to be a very effective operator in his time at Sky Italia. Under his leadership, Sky has grown to become one of the world’s most successful pay TV businesses, reaching close to 5 million homes and launching channels like TG24 which has set a new standard for independent journalism in Italy.

“'I believe that Tom is the best person to move the company forward to a brighter future.'"

Monday, 11 July 2011

The News of the World newspaper bought contact details about the royal family from a policeman,

The News of the World newspaper bought contact details about the royal family from a policeman, the BBC reported on Monday, deepening the scandal engulfing the News Corp media empire.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said the disclosure was contained in News International emails handed to a law firm in 2007 but only passed to police last month.

London's Evening Standard newspaper also printed similar allegations that personal details about Queen Elizabeth and her aides were sold to the News of the World by royal protection officers. It said these details were also uncovered in 2007.

The police team, investigating accusations of phone hacking by the News of the World's journalists and allegations some police officers were bribed by papers for information, condemned the reports, saying it could undermine their work.

It said the leaked information, which followed meetings between detectives and News International, the UK newspaper arm of News Corp, appeared to be designed to "divert attention".

The BBC's Peston said the emails provided evidence that the now shut-down tabloid was buying phone details about the royal family's friends and connections from an officer assigned to protect them.

"The implication, therefore, is that the security of the head of state was in some sense being jeopardised," Peston added.

The Metropolitan Police said it was "extremely concerned and disappointed" about the "continuous release of selected information" which it said could hamper its corruption investigation.

"It is our belief that information that has appeared in the media today is part of a deliberate campaign to undermine the investigation into the alleged payments by corrupt journalists to corrupt police officers and divert attention from elsewhere," the Met said in a statement.

It said information had been shared between detectives and News International and its lawyers over the past few weeks.

"It was agreed by all parties that this information would be kept confidential so that we could pursue various lines of inquiry, identify those responsible without alerting them and secure best evidence," the statement added.

There was no immediate comment from News International.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is overseeing the bribery inquiry, told Reuters it not yet been given any details of any specific individual officers allegedly involved.

News Corp closed down the 168-year-old News of the World after allegations it hacked into voicemails of a murdered teenage schoolgirl and victims of the 2005 bomb attacks on the London transport network.

A private investigator and the newspaper's royal editor were jailed in 2007 after they were convicted of hacking into the voicemail of members of the royal household.

News Corp long maintained that this was the work of a "rogue reporter" but that defence has unravelled as the list of targets grew

Rebekah Brooks may be interviewed by police investigating phone hacking at the News Of The World,

Sky sources say – amid claims other top executives were aware of widespread illegal activity at the paper.
Les Hinton, Andy Coulson, Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks
Mrs Brooks, chief executive of News International (NI), could be questioned by Scotland Yard detectives formally as a witness, a source at the company said.
She has previously said she will co-operate fully with the investigation. There is no suggestion that Mrs Brooks is suspected of wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch is expected to hold top-level meetings today, as he attempts to fire-fight the crisis.
After flying to London on Sunday, he had dinner with Mrs Brooks and suggested she had his full backing. When asked by reporters what his priority was, he gestured to her and said: "This one."

He has been urged by Labour leader Ed Miliband to put his plans to takeover BSkyB – owner of Sky News – on ice for the duration of the criminal investigation.
And Mr Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, NI's parent company, faces a further headache over claims about what other senior executives knew about phone hacking.
The Guardian reports that some executives could be quizzed over "smoking gun" emails which apparently showed several NOTW journalists – not just jailed royal editor Clive Goodman – were implicated in phone hacking.
An internal investigation in 2007 is said to have gathered 2,500 emails from NOTW staff.
The messages which formed the inquiry were reportedly sent to police earlier this year after newer executives at NI discovered its existence.

News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks
But despite the alleged revelations of the inquiry, NI executives repeatedly went on the record to say hacking was confined to a "rogue reporter".
The Guardian reports that Les Hinton, one of Rupert Murdoch’s most loyal lieutenants, was one of five people who had access to the report.
Mr Hinton, who has worked for News Corporation for about 50 years, ran NI for 10 years until December 2007.
He has twice told a parliamentary committee investigating phone hacking that there was no evidence to suggest the practice had gone beyond a lone reporter.
In September 2009, he told the committee: "There was never any evidence delivered to me that suggested that the conduct of Clive Goodman spread beyond him… We went, I promise you, to extraordinary lengths within the News Of The World."

Colin Myler was made News Of The World editor in 2007
James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son, took over the running of NI from Mr Hinton and it is understood he had no knowledge of the 2007 internal inquiry until recently. Also in the dark, The Guardian reports, was Mrs Brooks.
The Guardian says it understands that the then-NOTW editor Colin Myler, and a lawyer, Tom Crone, were also aware of evidence that showed more widespread illegal activity.
Mr Myler was appointed NOTW editor in 2007 and was charged with repairing the reputation of the newspaper after the Goodman affair.
He told the Commons culture, media and sport select committee in 2009 that he had run an internal investigation of emails and found hacking was restricted to Goodman.
Mr Crone, once the chief lawyer at the NOTW, was responsible for ensuring the newspaper's potentially libellous stories could not be challenged in court.
The Guardian alleges it was Mr Crone and Mr Myler who asked James Murdoch in 2008 to sign off a payment to Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers’ Association, to settle a phone-hacking claim against the NOTW.

Victoria Beckham gave birth to a baby girl on 10 July

, the fourth child in the Beckham brood.Proud dad David announced the arrival, and the unusual choice of name, in a message on Facebook: "I am so proud and excited to announce the birth of our daughter Harper Seven Beckham. She weighed a healthy 7lbs 10oz and arrived at 7:55 this morning, here in LA. Victoria is doing really well and her brothers are delighted to have a baby sister xx."Her middle name is reference to Becks’ old Man U and England jerseys, before he had to give up ‘7’ when he went to Real Madrid.The couple had made no secret of their desire to have a girl after three boys – Brooklyn, 12, Romeo, eight, and Cruz, six – and last week Becks spoke about the anticipation of having his first daughter. “The room is ready and her clothes are hung up. The boys are so excited about it as well so it's an exciting time for us... She's obviously going to have three boys to look after her so she's going to be well protected.”In related news, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy has become a father for the first time after his Hollywood actress girlfriend Kate Hudson gave birth to a boy on 9 July. Kate already has a son, seven-year-old Ryder, with The Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson.

Proud dad David announced the arrival, and the unusual choice of name, in a message on Facebook: "I am so proud and excited to announce the birth of our daughter Harper Seven Beckham. She weighed a healthy 7lbs 10oz and arrived at 7:55 this morning, here in LA. Victoria is doing really well and her brothers are delighted to have a baby sister xx."

Her middle name is reference to Becks’ old Man U and England jerseys, before he had to give up ‘7’ when he went to Real Madrid.

The couple had made no secret of their desire to have a girl after three boys – Brooklyn, 12, Romeo, eight, and Cruz, six – and last week Becks spoke about the anticipation of having his first daughter. “The room is ready and her clothes are hung up. The boys are so excited about it as well so it's an exciting time for us... She's obviously going to have three boys to look after her so she's going to be well protected.”

In related news, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy has become a father for the first time after his Hollywood actress girlfriend Kate Hudson gave birth to a boy on 9 July. Kate already has a son, seven-year-old Ryder, with The Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson.