Published on 7 Feb 2011 Sections

Four MPs ‘claim phones hacked in last month’

At least four MPs believe they have had their phones hacked in the last month, a Labour MP tells Channel 4 News.

Four MPs 'claim phones hacked in last month' - Reuters

Tom Watson, the Labour MP for for West Bromwich East, said that the four parliamentarians are made up of two senior Labour MPs, one Conservative and one Lib Dem.

They were informed by the phone provider, Vodafone, last week that attempts had been made to externally access their voicemails in the last month, Mr Watson said.

He added that two of the MPs had contacted the Metropolitan Police.

On January 27, Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin said that the Met, which had been criticised over its handling of the ongoing investigation, would re-double its efforts.

“It will be very robust and it will be under scrutiny as it should be,” he said.

“It will restore confidence in victims who feel they have not been given a service. It will be with no stone unturned. We have some of the most skilled investigators in the country and you will be proud of what they do.”

Vodafone would not confirm or deny whether it had contacted any MPs in the last week about possible phone hacking.

The Met was not available for comment at the time of publication.

Former Cabinet Minister

It is believed that one of the MPs is Tessa Jowell – a former Cabinet Minister under Gordon Brown. The identities of the others will remain undisclosed until police have announced whether they will investigate the claims.

Last month, Mrs Jowell said her phone provider had advised her to contact the police after discovering the attempt to access her voicemail.

“They said ‘refer this to the police because unauthorised access of your voicemail is a criminal offence’,” she said.

“So I reported it to the police and I saw the police at the beginning of the week and they are now investigating with the mobile phone company.”

The list of those alleging phone hacking by the News of the World newspaper is mounting by the week. So far, the list includes current and former MPs, celebrities including the actress Sienna Miller and the model Elle McPherson, football agent Sky Andrews and former deputy commissioner of the Met, Brian Paddick.

The number of cases of phone-tapping by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire is thought to exceed 3,000.

An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches – to be screened tonight – into the circumstances surrounding the resignation of David Cameron’s communications chief, Andy Coulson, last month has uncovered secret tapes “exposing a culture of paranoia and pressure under his editorship,” according to programme makers.

They obtained one such tape in which Mr Coulson gives a ‘pep talk’ to a reporter.

Mr Coulson has always maintained he was unaware of phone hacking at the paper.

On the tape, Mr Coulson says: “Basically we have a really tough year ahead of us… people are making redundancies… we’ve all got to justify our existence… It means that I need more stories. I need more exclusives, and I need it to be self generated stuff… being a News of the World reporter is no longer about… going out and covering a story… it’s about self-generating.”

The journalist raises the issue of Ian Edmondson, the news editor since sacked for phone hacking – who the journalist is unhappy working under. Coulson sings Edmondson’s praises: “I’ve got total and complete faith in Ian, I think he is a great operator and I think he’s doing a brilliant job and in that context you’ve got to make it work with him… I’m not going to get into the detail of who’s right and who’s wrong. The bottom line is they’re the news desk… It’s got to work. … and I look at your by-line count and I think to myself this isn’t working for anybody.”

There is no direct evidence of phone hacking on the tapes obtained by Dispatches.