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Sunday 22 March 2015

Did The Sun Hack Phones?

We know that the now-defunct Screws relied on illegal practices such as phone hacking for some years, and indulged in the practice on an industrial scale. What is also coming clear is that the rival Sunday Mirror was at it, although their hacking appears to have been concentrated on a smaller list of targets, who were hacked rather more frequently, just to keep the stories rolling in. But what of their weekday stablemates?
For the Mirror titles, it is looking more and more likely that the Daily Mirror was not immune from the hacking bug. And a number of events have caused the finger of suspicion to be pointed at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, that part of Creepy Uncle Rupe’s UK newspaper empire that still turns a regular profit. The first of those events is the past reality  - the Sun was using information from phone taps back in the 1990s.

This has been detailed in Nick Davies’ new book Hack Attack - the chapter Crime In Fleet Street has all the details, and if you want to see the full story, BUY A COPY - where he describes specific stories, such as the Diana “Squidgygate” episode, where the Police took no action, despite the information apparently being obtained by illegal means. Other stories were obtained by using scanners, which at the time were not illegal.

At the end of the 90s, scanners and other forms of call and message interception became illegal. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, it was at that time when Steven Nott took his concern about Vodafone’s security loophole to the press. An initial enthusiasm for the story soon cooled, Nott was shooed away, and soon afterwards, it seems the Screws and Sunday Mirror were happily hacking away.

The question then begs itself: if the Sun had been happy to run stories based on phone tapping and other forms of interception back in the 90s, and new ways of doing this became known to its Sunday stablemate, are we supposed to believe that the weekday title just gave up on the practice and didn’t get involved? The assertions from the late Sean Hoare suggest otherwise - and one of those he fingered was Dominic Mohan.

Hoare and others, as Davies tells, “all claim that … Dominic Mohan became an enthusiastic hacker”. Mohan admitted in testimony to the Leveson Inquiry that “he could not be 100 per cent sure that some showbusiness stories published in the tabloid had not been obtained by phone hacking”. On top of that has been the Sun’s recent tendency to protest rather too loudly about some of its hacks being put on trial.

Mohan edited the Sun’s Bizarre column at the time when it ran an awful lot of stories describing phone conversations, calls, and what looked like the contents of messages (Davies lists some on Page 95 of his book). Now the paper is running a series of articles clearly intended to demonise the Police and CPS. Is someone getting too close for comfort? Or are we required to believe that this is mere coincidence?

If the Sun’s hacks hacked, they will be found out. Just like those at the Screws were.

1 comment:

rob said...

Now who could have worked at both The Mirror and The Sun during those halcyon days of "apocryphal" phonehacking?