Scotland Yard is investigating possible computer hacking by News of the World in a case linked to the Tommy Sheridan libel action, Channel 4 News has learned.
A lawyer representing a number of claimants in the hacking scandal has confirmed to Home Affairs Correspondent Andy Davies that one of his clients – a "key witness” in the Sheridan libel case (who wishes to remain anonymous) - may have had "very personal" emails intercepted by senior staff at the News of the World.
The case of Tommy Sheridan, one of the most high-profile defamation cases in recent years, hit the headlines in 2004 when he was accused by the News of the World of adultery and visiting a swingers' club. Two years later, the former Scottish Socialist MSP was awarded £200,000 in damages from the News of the World after suing over the claims. However, in a subsequent court action, Mr Sheridan was then found guilty of having lied under oath in his initial civil action.
Steven Heffer, a partner in the law firm Collyer Bristow, has told Channel 4 News that it was only recently that detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Tuleta approached him with evidence relating to a witness in that initial defamation trial. Heffer says that he was shown some emails containing personal exchanges between this witness (his client) and another individual dating back to 2004/05 which appeared to have been later forwarded between News of the World journalists.
He told Channel 4 News this evening: "I have been shown evidence by the MPS that one of my clients, who was a witness in the Tommy Sheridan libel case, appears to have been the victim of email hacking. Very personal emails seem to have been intercepted and passed between senior staff at the News of the World in Scotland."
Operation Tuleta is investigating allegations regarding privacy breaches which fall outside the remit of Operation Weeting (phone hacking), most notably computer hacking. Channel 4 News has previously reported that detectives have been investigating allegations that a former British Army intelligence officer had his computer hacked by the News of the World. However, this is the first time that Operation Tuleta and claims of computer hacking have been linked to the News of the World's activities in Scotland.
Tonight a spokesperson for News International offered a brief comment in response to the claims: "News International is co-operating fully with the Metropolitan Police Service in its various investigations."