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August 25, 2011

UK electoral commission asked to investigate News International payoffs

UK electoral commission asked to investigate News International payoffs

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

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Labour MP Tom Watson is calling for an investigation into payments by News International to Andy Coulson.
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The United Kingdom electoral commission has been asked to investigate whether payments made by News International to Andy Coulson amidst the recent phone hacking scandal were illegal.

Labor MP Tom Watson, who has been a driving force in the phone hacking scandal, called for the investigation after he believed that payments and benefits made to Coulson, including private health benefits and a company car, should have been declared as a political donation. Mr Watson has reportedly been trying to uncover whether Coulson declared these payments to the cultures committee upon applying for access to parliament.

MPs are bewildered by Prime Minister David Cameron’s hiring of Coulson without anyone looking into his financial history, and many have expressed outrage as the reports contradict evidence given by the former News of The World editor to the culture committee in 2009. He allegedly told the committee that he had received a salary of £275,000 and that he did not have a second income.

Coulson is expected to face further questioning from the committee about the payments after he is cleared from the phone hacking scandal.

Robert Peston, a journalist for the BBC, claimed that Mr Coulson had received several hundred thousand pounds from News International after he began working for the Conservative Party. Despite his ousting in 2007, Mr Coulson received his severance pay in installments from News International until the end of that year.

Coulson was known to have received a payoff after his resignation from News of the World in 2007. The resignation came after the conviction of journalist Clive Goodman for phone hacking.

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has stated that both Coulson and News International should have informed the committee about the payments. The investigation will decide whether or not the electoral committee has been misled by Coulson, and whether the payments should be considered as a political donation.

The committee is expected to meet in early September to decide on a plan of action.



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July 31, 2011

British police launch computer hacking investigation

British police launch computer hacking investigation

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

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The Metropolitan Police, a British police force based in the capital city of London, has announced its intention to commence a new investigation related to allegations of computer hacking. The force has received numerous allegations of computer and email hacking relating to journalists since January of this year, prompting the launch of the probe, codenamed Operation Tuleta. According to a spokesperson for Scotland Yard, computer hacking allegations have already been brought into account, but now, “some aspects of that operation are being moved towards investigation”.

These allegations occurred during Operation Weeting, which has investigated alleged phone hacking offences. The Metropolitan Police said that the computer hacking claims were not within the remit of the phone hacking allegation probe, so a separate investigation had to be launched. Operation Tuleta consists of a fresh team of detectives, who will provide information to Operation Weeting deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers.

Meanwhile, the legal representatives for Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator for the former British publication News of the World (NotW) have stated that he was proceeding “on the instructions of others”. Sara Payne, the mother of the murdered girl Sarah Payne, was informed that Mulcaire possibly hacked into her phone and gathered her contact information. Payne was said to be “very distressed and upset” by the allegations. Mulcaire was sentenced to prison in January 2007 along with Clive Goodman, the royal editor for the NotW.

The final edition of the NotW was published this July, amid the phone hacking scandal within News Corporation. A public inquiry relating to the affair was launched, triggered by allegations of phone hacking and police corruption.



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August 9, 2006

Arrests over phone-tap of British royal family

Arrests over phone-tap of British royal family

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Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Clarence House is a royal home in London, and is the official residence of The Prince of Wales, his second wife HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and his sons, the princes William and Harry of Wales.

Three people have been arrested over allegations that they intercepted calls made by staff in Clarence House, Prince Charles’ household. Clive Goodman, royal editor for the tabloid newspaper News of the World, is one of three men who were last night detained by police following a probe by Scotland Yard lasting several weeks. It is alleged they listened to numerous voice mail messages made by members of Britain’s royal household.

All of the three men were questioned by police at Charing Cross police station in London, and police have confirmed this morning that a fifty year-old man has been released on bail. But a spokeswoman for the News International newspaper has said that Mr Goodman remains in custody with another unidentified man.

Scotland Yard had reportedly been told by staff at Clarence House that something suspicious was occurring. The Royal Protection Squad was therefore told to investigate the claims, and due to potential security implications, the anti-terrorist branch is also involved in the enquiry.

“Police launched an investigation after concerns were reported to the Met’s Royalty Protection Department by members of the Royal Household at Clarence House,” said a statement issued by Scotland Yard last night. “It is focused on alleged repeated security breaches within telephone networks over a significant period of time and the potential impact this may have around a number of individuals.”

It has also emerged today that the investigation will look at whether a number of celebrities and Members of Parliament have had their phones tapped. “Police continue to work with the telephone companies concerned and continue to have their full support in attempting to identify any other person whose telephone may have been intercepted,” Scotland Yard’s statement added.

This is not the first time that such phone hacking allegations surrounding the Royal Family have made the headlines. In 1993, a romantic call made late at night between Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwell was made public, and in 1992, a tape featuring a conversation between Princess Diana and a close friend called James Gilbey was published.

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