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Murdoch paper’s phone hacking targeted ex-prime minister: reports

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, January 23, 2011 11:10 EDT
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LONDON — Britain’s opposition Labour party called Sunday for a fresh police probe into phone-hacking by journalists, amid reports that former prime minister Gordon Brown was among the high-profile figures targeted.

Fresh revelations in the scandal over phone hacking at the Rupert Murdoch owned News of the World forced Prime Minister David Cameron’s media chief Andy Coulson, a former editor of the tabloid, to quit last week.

According to newspaper and broadcast media reports Sunday, Brown asked police to investigate whether his phone had been hacked when he was Labour prime minister between 2007 and 2010.

Brown’s office declined to comment, but Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said police must investigate the allegations.

“Hacking into people’s phones is illegal. Obviously the criminal law has got to be complied with and if it is broken then it should be investigated by the police and it should be enforced,” she told Sky News.

“Nobody is above the law, no newspaper editor, no journalist.”

Coulson quit on Friday after fresh revelations in recent months over what he knew about phone hacking at the News of the World when he was editor.

He quit the post in January 2007 after the paper’s royal editor and a private investigator were jailed for hacking into the phones of Princes William and Harry, but insisted he knew nothing about it.

In the latest development in the row Sunday, allegations emerged that the practice of phone hacking was used in other British tabloids.

Lawyer Mark Lewis told The Observer newspaper that he was representing four people who believe their phones were hacked by journalists from papers other than the News of the World.

“Lots of people were doing it,” he said.

“It was such a widespread practice. Although it is a crime, people were regarding it as though it was driving at 35mph (miles per hour) in a 30mph zone, that you just sort of do it and hope you don’t get caught.”

Commentators said that the row over Coulson, a key member of the prime minister’s team, had damaged Cameron and his nine-month-old coalition.

But deputy prime minister Nick Clegg insisted Sunday: “I don’t think this government will miss a beat.”

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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