Phone-hacking: More newspapers under probe?

The police believe that there are more than 702 identifiable victims of phone hacking.

Updated: Jul 23, 2012, 20:02 PM IST

London: Besides media baron Rupert Murdoch`s now defunct News of the World, British papers Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Star and Star on Sunday, have come under the scanner of the Scotland Yard for alleged payments made to prison guards for stories.

Appearing before the Leveson Inquiry into ethics, culture and practices of the British press, Sue Akers, senior police officer in charge of the investigations, today said that prison officers had allegedly received payments from these titles as well as from titles owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Akers is overseeing a team of officers looking at phone hacking and related inquiries at the now defunct News of the World.

The police believe that there are more than 702 identifiable victims of phone hacking. It has notified 2,615 alleged targets to date.

One prison officer had allegedly received 35,000 pounds from newspapers, she said, and added that stories possibly linked to the payments revealed "very limited material of genuine public interest".

The Leveson Inquiry is currently in its fourth module focussed on the future of press regulation.

Akers said: "It`s our assessment that there are reasonable grounds to suspect offences have been committed and that the majority of these stories reveal very limited material of genuine public interest".

She said one prison officer was accused of taking illegal payments of nearly 35,000 pounds from Trinity Mirror, News International and Express Newspapers during the period between April 2010 and June 2011.

Additional payments are also alleged to have been made, with a final payment in February 2012, she said.

Another prison official allegedly received payments totalling more than 14,000 pounds from Trinity Mirror between February 2006 and January 2012.

In her evidence, DAC Akers said the Met had arrested 41 individuals as part of the Operation Elveden inquiry into corrupt payments to officials, and 15 current and former journalists in relation to conspiracy to intercept communications.

Scotland Yard officers were looking into 101 separate allegations of data intrusion, and examining eight to 11 terabytes of electronic data.

Aker said that The Sun had had a "culture of illegal payments" and added that 80,000 pounds had been paid to one individual over a number of years, while one journalist had received 150,000 pounds from the paper to pay sources.