LONDON — Almost 5,800 victims are now thought to have been targeted in the phone-hacking scandal at the now defunct News of the World tabloid, police said Thursday.
Officers from Operation Weeting, the body set up to investigate the affair, believe that 5,795 people may have had their voicemail messages intercepted, almost 2,000 more than the previous figure of 3,870 given at a government committee meeting in July.
"It is not possible to give a precise figure about the number of people whose phones have actually been 'hacked' but we can confirm that as of today's date (November 3) the current number of potentially identifiable persons who appear in the material (and who may therefore be victims), where names are noted, is 5,795," police said in a statement.
"This figure is very likely to be revised in the future as a result of further analysis," added the statement.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World was closed down in July after it emerged that a murdered girl was among those targeted.
The tabloid's royal editor and a private detective were jailed for hacking in 2007 but a flood of allegations suggesting that the practice was widespread prompted the police to reopen their investigation in January.
The scandal led to the resignation of two of Murdoch's top aides and two senior police officers, and also dragged in Prime Minister David Cameron after his ex-media chief, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, was arrested.