Mobile phone hacking scandal rumbles on

It is four years since the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World newspaper [the leading UK Sunday newspaper] saw the newspaper’s former royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, jailed for his part in hacking into the mobile phone voicemails of Princes William & Harry. It appears that Clive Goodman was so desperate for a `story’, he resorted to engaging a Private Investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, to hack into the voicemail messages of the Princes for leads and gossip.

The two were found out when members of the Royal household noticed that messages they had yet to access were marked as `read’ plus Clive Goodman published a vanilla story in the News of the World about one of the Princes having medical treatment for his knee – almost word for word from a voice mail left for the Prince.

Four years ago the  News of the World  claimed that the phone hacking was the product of one misguided journalist and the private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire. An investigation was undertaken by the Metropolitan Police and there was enough evidence to prosecute these two. They both went to gaol. That was the end of that.

But it wasn’t. Rumours swirled around that in fact many of the journalists at the News of the World had used Glenn Mulcaire to gain access to the voicemail of celebrities and even senior politicians. Further allegations surfaced that in fact the Metropolitan Police had stacks of evidence that showed the phone hacking went far beyond the two Princes and also involved far more journalists within the News of the World. But the Metropolitan Police were flaccid in their investigation – followed by suggestions that senior Police officers had relationship with the publishers of the News of the World. Lord Prescott, Former Deputy Prime Minister and alleged victim of the phone hacking scam, is now seeking a judicial review into Scotland Yard’s handling of the investigation.

But the matter was kept alive by the Guardian and New York Times newspapers– both direct competitors to the publishers of the News of the World. Things were further complicated when Andy Coulson, former editor of the News of the World, was promoted to be a media advisor to David Cameron, the newly elected Prime Minister.

Coulson has denied knowing of the hacking but many doubt how valid this claim is. In court testimony for another matter, Andy Coulson said under oath the refrain that the phone hacking was due to one isolated journalist. However, Coulson must have known that Glenn Mulcaire was officially being paid ₤100,000 per year plus additional cash handouts – for doing what exactly? Some wonder whether any fresh evidence could disprove the sworn testimony of Andy Coulson and expose him to the charge of perjury. Stranger things have happened.

And now the stonewall put in place by the News of the World has some serious cracks in it. Each week in the UK another celebrity announces legal action against the News of the World, claiming that their privacy has been invaded by the phone hacking.

Some celebrities are taking separate legal action against Glenn Mulcaire directly for the phone hacking whilst he in turn is appealing against a decision to make him divulge which journalists on the News of the World hired him to hack the  phones.

The Police have now admitted that they had seized multiple pages of phone details from Glenn Mulcaire with first names handwritten on each – supposedly by Mulcaire indicating which journalist within the News of the World was requesting the information. Will Mulcaire declare who ordered what phones to be hacked? Will he name names? The News of the World news editor, Ian Edmondson, had been suspended amid allegations relating to the phone hacking of actress Sienna Miller’s phone.

Lawyers acting for alleged victims of the phone hacking suggest that there may have been thousands of victims. Around 3,000 phone numbers were listed in documents seized by Police back in 2006 and telephone records for Glenn Mulcaire show multiple calls from his own phone to the numbers used by celebrities – the path of evidence should be fairly easy to follow. How vigorously will the Police pursue it this time round?

This one will run and run.

How was the phone hacking conducted?
For some mobile phones, it is possible to listen to any voicemails by dialing an access number, enter the mobile phone number followed by the PIN.

Often the user either leaves the PIN as the default – usually `0000’ – or else chooses a simple PIN like 1234 or 1111. On some occasions, the hacker may get the PIN via dumpster diving or else under pretext – calling the phone provider pretending to be the owner and asking for the PIN.

How to protect yourself from phone hacking?

  • Choose an irregular PIN such as 4729 or 8147
  • Do not record the PIN in an accessible place i.e. a post-it note on your desk or in your diary
  • Change your PIN every few months
  • Observe whether any voicemail messages have been designated as accessed before you have viewed them
  • Report any suspicions you may have to your mobile phone provider and insist that they investigate the matter
  • Do not pass your PIN to anyone else

In the meantime, wasn’t it The Jam that sang the lines:

Each morning our key to the world comes through the door
More than often its just a comic, not much more
Don’t take it too serious – not many do
Read between the lines and you’ll find the truth

Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world

Read all about it, read all about it – news of the world

Do you need to know more about our services and how Regents can assist you with mobile phone forensics or computer forensics? Simply go to our Computer Forensics page for our phone numbers or else send an email to contactus@regentsriskadvisory.com with your contact details and we will respond at once.