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No end in sight for UK phone hacking scandal

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No end in sight for UK phone hacking scandal


Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World’s apology and offer of compensation doesn’t seem to have calmed the victims of the daily’s phone hacking scandal.

The parent company News International issued an apology that was published in the paper on April 10, in which it admitted intercepting voicemail of some individuals, apologising to them and offering damages.

Lawyers for one of the personalities whose mobile phone was hacked, actress Sienna Miller, insist she has not accepted any settlement offer, calling the hacking an “outrageous violation of her privacy.”

Parliamentarian Peter Hain commented on a BBC programme that “It’s vital that there is a full and proper public investigation,” calling the police investigation so far “tardy in not really identifying the truth.” He called News of the World a “rogue paper.”

A journalist and a private investigator carried out the hacking operations between 2004 and 2006, and they were both jailed in 2007. One of their victims was Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary at the time, who was in charge of media policy in Britain.

The Independent reported in September that Ms. Jowell’s mobile phone was hacked 28 times by May 2006, citing the police. This caused much alarm over whether other high-level politicians have been targeted.

Andy Coulsun, the News of the World’s editor at the time, resigned when his reporter was jailed. He went on to become Director of Communications for No. 10 after David Cameron became Prime Minister. But he had to resign from that position in January because of the continued coverage of events and the accusations over his knowledge of the affair.

Apart from Miller and Jowell, News of the World admitted to hacking into six other individuals’ phones: lawyer David Mills who is the estranged husband of Jowell, the designer Kelly Hoppen, sports journalist Andy Gray, Nicola Phillips, an aide to publicist Max Clifford, sports agent Sky Andrew and Joan Hammell, a former aide to politician John Prescott.

“We hope to be able to pay appropriate compensation to all these individuals, and have asked our lawyers to set up a compensation scheme to deal with genuine claims fairly and efficiently,” the statement read. “Here today, we publicly and unreservedly apologise to all such individuals. What happened to them should not have happened. It was and remains unacceptable.”

But it is unlikely the story will be put to bed so easily.

By Ali Sheikholeslami
London Correspondent

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