Death of hacking whistleblower probed
The death of Sean Hoare, a former News of the World journalist and whistleblower on the escalating phone-hacking scandal, was “not suspicious” and involved no third party, police said a post-mortem showed Tuesday.
The post-mortem carried out on 47-year-old Hoare, who was found dead at his home on Monday, revealed there was “no evidence” that anyone else was involved in the death.
A toxicology report is expected within weeks.
Hoare’s body was discovered at his home in Watford, a suburb north of the British capital, less than a year after he became the first named journalist to allege that one-time editor Andy Coulson knew about hacking at the tabloid.
Hoare was reportedly battling drink and drug addiction from his years as a high-rolling showbusiness reporter searching for scoops on the London party circuit.
He first alleged in interviews with The New York Times and the BBC last year that Coulson, who edited the News of the World from 2003 to 2007 and went on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications chief, knew about voicemail hacking.
“It was endemic. It happened,” Hoare said of phone-hacking, in an interview with the BBC in March.
“People were scared. If you’ve got to get a story, you’ve got to get it, and you have to get that by whatever means. That is the culture at News International,” he said.
News International is the British newspaper publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation global media empire, which owned the News of the World but shut it down earlier this month.
Hoare’s claims were passed to Scotland Yard last year but they said he declined to give evidence. Coulson has since been arrested and bailed over allegations of phone-hacking and bribing police.
Just a week ago, Hoare made new allegations in The New York Times about journalists making payments to the police, and about the use of “pinging”, the illegal use of mobile phone signals to locate people.
Hoare’s drink and drug problems led to his dismissal from the News of the World in 2005, British media reported.
“The man’s next of kin have been informed and the family are being supported by police at this sad time,” a police statement said.
Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper quoted an unnamed friend as saying Hoare “thought that someone was going to come and get him, but I didn’t know whether to believe half the stuff he was saying.”
The Daily Mirror is one of the main tabloid competitors of the News International-owned newspaper The Sun.
Hoare’s death also came as Murdoch testified Tuesday to British lawmakers over the scandal.
British newspaper commentators noted that Hoare’s health was damaged from the years of drinking and drug abuse as a showbusiness journalist.
“His health never recovered,” wrote The Guardian’s Nick Davies, who has led the paper’s phone-hacking investigation, which uncovered many of the allegations that led to the closure of the News of the World.
Davies added that Hoare was “a lovely man.”
David Yelland, a former editor of The Sun, paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Sean Hoare was trying to be honest, struggling with addiction. But he was a good man.”