Phone hacking "routine" at Sun, late News of the World whistleblower told brother

The older brother of ex-News of the World reporter Sean Hoare has told the Leveson Inquiry that phone hacking was taken from the Sun to the now defunct tabloid.

Stuart Hoare said he had exchanged a series of emails with his late brother in which he had revealed practice was “routine” at the Sun before being “taken” to its Sunday equivalent, where it occurred “more daily”.

“The idea that it was a secret had him [Sean] rocking in his chair,” Hoare said. “Everyone was at it.”

Sean Hoare, who died in July, was interviewed by the New York Times in 2010 about phone hacking at the News of the World.

Also speaking today, deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday James Hanning said that Sean Hoare had told him he had hacked phones “numerous times”, as had several of his colleagues at the News of the World.

“Sean didn’t realise at the time he was probably doing wrong,” Hoare said. “He got carried away like a lot of journalists, and was certainly under a lot of pressure from seniors to deliver.”

Hanning disagreed with Stuart Hoare’s assertion that the paper’s newsdesk was out of control. “It seems to me it was known what was going on.”

In his witness statement Hoare said his brother had regarded drug taking as “part of his job” and was “easily led” into a culture of drinking. “He came close to a lot of celebrities and got a lot of information that benfited him and his employer,” he told the Inquiry.

Sean Hoare was asked by a senior member of staff to leave the News of the World in 2005. “His world fell apart,” his brother said said. “I can’t tell you how much Sean enjoyed journalism.”

He added that, in his last two years at the paper, Sean had been “struggling” due to pressure placed on him and other reporters to produce stories. “He was bringing his work home, he was drinking more,” Hoare said.

“It upsets me the amount of pressure these journalists at the News of the World were out under to deliver stories,” Hoare added. “To see the demise of my brother through this was shocking.”

Hanning also alluded to the “very tough” redtop market, noting that “if you don’t perform, you tend not to thrive.”

Hoare concluded that he “found it very difficult” not to name names, adding that those involved “know the wrong they have done.”

“I am trying to put some of the wrongs to rights on Sean’s behalf,” he said.

The inquest into Hoare’s death in November concluded he had died of natural causes, with the coroner citing alcoholic liver disease.

Follow Index on Censorship’s coverage of the Leveson Inquiry on Twitter – @IndexLeveson.

Don't forget, it was good journalism that exposed phone hacking

Everyone is competing for the colour of their adjectives. Everyone agrees that the actions of the News of the World have been reprehensible, despicable — you can take your pick.

As the revelations tumble forth, exposing layer upon layer of depravity and potential corruption, it’s important to remember that the sins of the many (including seemingly those in high places) should not be used as an excuse to tighten control on an entire media. That was my message in a comment piece this week in the Financial Times. This is, as I wrote, a tough time to be promoting freedom of expression.

The instinct among many of the media’s critics is to tar everyone with the same brush. When I recently testified before a BBC radio commission on privacy I urged the commissioners not to fall into the trap of using a fisherman’s bottom trawling technique — if you throw a huge net into the sea you will find what you are looking for; you may also damage the environment for the good folk, and yes, those good folk do exist.

Many of the politicians who courted Rupert Murdoch’s News International are jumping onto the condemnation bandwagon. Their views carry no credibility, although some MPs have acted fearlessly and tenaciously in backing calls for a judicial inquiry into the hacking scandal.

At the launch of the Hacked Off campaign for an inquiry into the scandal — co-ordinated by Index on Censorship contributor Brian Cathcart and the Media Standards Trust— last night, MPs Tom Watson and Paul Farrelly were singled out for praise. And so they should have been.

In the Commons, David Cameron said that several inquiries might follow the police’s current investigation. This was immediately denounced as a ruse to delay finding out the truth. And, given the Prime Minister’s close links with the Murdoch clan (no less cosy than those enjoyed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown), such an accusation may carry weight.

But there is a further danger: when Cameron, Miliband and others talk of inquiries into “media ethics”, alarm bells should sound — not because of the principle, but the motivation. Politicians, indeed anyone who holds power, by the nature of their positions seek to prevent inconvenient truths from coming to light. The time-honoured task of journalists is to challenge that.

Index on Censorship was asked by the organisers of “hacked off” to endorse their call for an investigation into hacking. We are watching their work with interest. We have thus far withheld formal support not because we disagree, but because we seek assurance that any probe can root out evil doing but reinforce good journalism.

The “princes of darkness” at the News of the World and beyond have provided politicians with a golden opportunity to strike back at the media more generally.

The Met and the bin bags

On the morning of 8 August 2006 officers of the Metropolitan Police raided the offices and home in Surrey of the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire and gathered up all the materials they could find which might be relevant to their ten-month-old investigation into the illegal hacking of mobile phone voicemails. The haul — notebooks, loose papers, files, disks of various kinds, computer records — was put into bin bags, filling two or three of them. (more…)

Andy Coulson has gone, now let's see News International held to account

Why has Andy Coulson resigned now, after clinging on so long, and just days after David Cameron backed him? If his position has suddenly become untenable it is hardly just because, as he put it, the spokesman needs a spokesman. They could afford a line of 20 of those.

One of the reasons must be the simple one that the “one rogue” defence of his time at the News of the World has collapsed. The suspension of senior news executive Ian Edmondson and the naming of one other former news editor in court documents related to alleged phone hacking have left News International struggling for a form of words to shore up its position. And all the time the lawsuits from angry celebrities continue to pile up.

But you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to ask whether the future of BSkyB is as important in the balance of factors here as the question of how many people still believe Coulson could have failed to know members of his staff were hacking phones.

James and Rupert Murdoch are determined to buy the shares in BSkyB that they don’t already own. It is the springboard for their UK business strategy over the next ten years and compared to this the fates of Andy Coulson and a bunch of News of the World hacks probably doesn’t add up to much.

The Murdochs don’t usually care much about public opinion either, but they need political blessing for the BSkyB deal to go through. In this context the embarrassment of constant stories about hacking (even though most of the press has shabbily ignored them) is most unwelcome, and there is no doubt that Coulson’s presence at the heart of government has made that worse.

Now he’s gone, will the TV deal be easier to pull off? Only if we’re all suckers.

So bad has the phone hacking scandal become that the whole News International hierarchy has questions to answer, and that includes not only Rebekah Brooks but James Murdoch himself — for one thing, he personally approved the six-figure settlement payment to Gordon Taylor which was prompted by the discovery of that infamous bunch of hacked transcripts marked “for Neville”.

If James Murdoch wants to convince us that his company should be able to own BSkyB outright, with all the monopolistic opportunities that affords, then he needs to convince us that the company he already runs is a clean one. And before that can happen we need to see what happens to Sienna Miller, Chris Tarrant, Andy Gray, Steve Coogan and the host of others who are in the courts claiming that Murdoch’s paper breached their privacy.

Read more Brian Cathcart on Metgate hereherehereherehere and here

Brian Cathcart teaches journalism at Kingston University London and tweets at @BrianCathcart