8 Nov 2011

Claim of large scale surveillance by News of the World

Following the phone-hack scandal, a private investigator claims he followed and tracked the movements of high-profile people picked by staff at the News of the World – as Michael Crick reveals.

Channel 4 News has seen the work logs of Derek Webb, a former policeman, who says that over a period of eight years he was paid to follow more than 90 people including Prince William and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith.

He said he also recorded the movements of celebrities picked by the newspaper’s staff.

Further alleged targets named in the dossier are: William’s brother Prince Harry, former England footballer Gary Lineker and Tom Watson – the MP closely involved in uncovering the News of the World hacking scandal.

News of the World’s alleged surveillance targets
We have found 153 names on the lists compiled by Derek Webb – people on which he says he was asked to carry out surveillance by the News of the World between 2003 and 2011, writes Channel 4 News Political Correspondent Michael Crick.

We have excluded those on his lists who seem to be ordinary members of the public. The celebrities, politicians and other public figures on his lists are all on my blog here, and include names such as:

Angelina Jolie
Daniel Radcliffe
David Miliband MP
Earl Spencer
Frank Lampard
Gordon Ramsey
Princes William and Harry
Richard Madeley
Tom Watson MP

Mr Webb has spoken to BBC Newsnight about what the surveillance involved.

He said: “Basically I would write down what they were wearing at the time, what car they were in, who they met, the location they met, the times – the times were very important – and I would keep that.

“And then I would transfer part of it into my diary, but not the actual log itself. Just the names of the people.”

In 2006 Mr Webb was asked to follow Prince William when he was spending a number of days in Gloucestershire, it is claimed.

Mr Webb said: “I was working for them extensively on many jobs throughout that time.

“I never knew when I was going to be required.

“They phoned me up by the day or by the night… It could be anywhere in the country.”

Carrying out surveillance is not illegal and is not new for journalists or private investigators.

Mr Webb added: “I got calls from numerous journalists on the news desk.”

The private detective said that 90 per cent of his targets were celebrities or politicians.