Friday, July 15, 2011

How NOTW used hacked phone calls

More details have emerged showing how the News of the World used information gleaned from hacking phones to concoct and make up stories.

The most high profile case is that of abducted and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler whose phone was hacked and voicemail messages were even deleted. All of this was done in order to obtain stories.

Soon after the schoolgirl had been abducted in March 2002 the News of the World ran a story which appears to show it had already gleaned some information from her phone. Under the headline "Missing Milly 'hoax' outrage", the 14th April edition claimed that a woman had posed as the youngster and states that she had "left a message on her voicemail AFTER the 13-year-old vanished at 4pm on March 21."

The hacking has been described as sickening and deplorable, as well as immoral and illegal by politicians and members of the public. In the story which only made it to page 30 of the tabloid paper, it is stated that the woman had "hampered the investigation" into Milly Dowler's disappearance. The irony is that the News of the World had themselves probably impeded the investigation by deleting messages from Milly Dowler's voicemail in order to make way for further messages.

Other archived stories show that the likely contents of other voicemail messages ended up in stories. The News of the World has run countless stories which mention phone calls, voicemails or emails. Amongst those featured in the stories are Prince Harry, Ulrika Johnson, Jude Law, Enrique Inglesias and Cristiano Ronaldo.

In a story reporting on Ulrika Johnson's sex romp with Sven Ericksson, the paper reveals there were "sexy phone chats" often conducted in Swedish. "The News of the World has also discovered that 53-year-old Sven: Speaks only in Swedish on the phone to Ulrika and conned his live-in partner Nancy Dell'Olio that he was talking to his assistant, Tord Grip!"

These are just a few examples of stories that made it to print. There are no doubt countless others which never made it past the early investigations. The can of worms is open as far as the News of the World is concerned. How far such practices spread throughout the Murdoch empire is as yet unclear. What is also uncertain is whether other papers also engaged in immoral or illegal practices as a short cut to obtain stories.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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