10 Things We've Learnt About Rupert Murdoch's News of the World
Two tabloid editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are accused of plotting to hack phones. Their trial at the Old Bailey in London has shed light on life inside their former newspaper, Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World:
1. While some phone messages illegally eavesdropped by the News of the World’s hacker Glenn Mulcaire were from royal courtiers, Hollywood actors and leading politicians, others were mundane. Among those leaving voicemails on the ansaphone of politician Jeffrey Archer’s friend Edwina Freeman was “somebody from a driving school.”
2. At the other extreme, among those who may have left messages for government special advisor Hannah Pawlby – whom the NoW hacked and put under surveillance over a false rumour that she was having an affair with Home Secretary Charles Clarke – was a former head of Britain’s foreign spy agency, MI6
3. Inside the News of the World’s heavily-guarded headquarters in east London was a “secret room” where trusted executives – concealed by solid rather than glass walls like the other offices – prepared exclusive stories to prevent them being leaked by staff.
4. Hannah Pawlby (above) never heard three urgent messages left for her by the News of the World’s editor – because they had been accidentally deleted by the paper’s hacker. On a tape recording made by Mulcaire, Andy Coulson could be heard saying: “I’ve got a story we’re planning to run tomorrow that I’d really like to speak to Charles about. I wouldn’t do this in the normal course of events but it’s quite a serious story…” Beeps are then heard and an automated message says: “Message deleted”, and Mulcaire exclaims: “Oh fuck”.
5. On another recording, of a voicemail message left by David Blunkett on the phone of a female friend, Mulcaire could be heard muttering: “Just say ‘I love you’ and that’s 25 grand [£25,000].”
6. Sometimes the News of the World hacked ordinary members of the public by mistake. Voicemails left for Laura Rooney were intercepted in the mistaken belief that she was related to the footballer Wayne Rooney. She wasn’t. She was a beauty therapist from Windsor, Berkshire.
7. The secrets of B-list celebrities were spilled in a car parked outside a house in Manchester. A topless model, Lorna Hogan, had “an arrangement” with the NoW to report back on the behavior of the celebs she met in London nightclubs, for up to £10,000 a time. She said of News of the World reporter Chris Tate: “He would come to my house and sit in his car and pay me cash.”
8. The News of the World wrongly believed that the missing 13-year-old Amanda Dowler was working at a computer factory in the Midlands after hacking a voicemail mistakenly left on her phone by a recruitment agency. The agency had misdialled one digit while trying to contact a woman called Nana.
9. After receiving the lead, the News of the World did not inform the police but dispatched a team of reporters to besiege the recruitment agency. Staff there later told police they had received phone calls claiming to be from Milly’s mother seeking help with her disappearance. One reporter told the agency the News of the World was “working with the police”.
10. An editorial in Rebekah Brooks’s Sun called striking fireman’s leader Andy Gilchrist a “lying, cheating low-life fornicator” after exposing a brief affair he had had four years previously. At the time Mrs Brooks (then Wade) was in the middle of a six-year relationship with Andy Coulson. No newspaper exposed that affair.