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Met re-opens NoTW phone hack probe

'Significant new information' prompts reinvestigation

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Scotland Yard has re-opened an investigation into phone hacking at News of the World – more than four years after closing the book of the case.

The Met, which previously refused to reinvestigate the case, said that the move came in response to the receipt of "significant new information". This investigation will be led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers from the Specialist Crime Directorate, Scotland Yard said in a statement.

The MPS has today (26 January) received significant new information from News International relating to allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World in 2005/06.

As a result, the MPS is launching a new investigation to consider this material. This work will be carried out by the Specialist Crime Directorate, which has been investigating a related phone-hacking allegation since September 2010.

Separately, the Sunday tabloid announced that it had sacked its assistant editor, Ian Edmondson, who had been suspended after evidence emerged that he had paid a private investigator to intercept the voicemail messages of actress Sienna Miller. According to The Guardian, Edmondson allegedly commissioned private investigator Glenn Mulcaire – jailed back in 2005 after they admitted they had intercepted the voicemail messages of royal aides – to dig up dirt on the actress and her former partner, Jude Law.

News Group has long blamed the whole unsavoury phone-hacking business on a rogue reporter, NotW royal editor Clive Goodman, who was jailed alongside Mulcaire. Goodman had acted alone and without the approval of senior management, it claimed. Andy Coulson, NotW editor at the time, landed on his feet by going on to secure a job as David Cameron's director of communication.

That line came apart, mainly because of a series of privacy lawsuits by celebrities and public figures against the newspaper. Suits were filed by football players' union boss Gordon Taylor, Sienna Miller and several others.

The Guardian ran a series of investigative articles into the affair, a development that prompted a fresh hearing by a Commons select committee and the Press Complaints Commission. Again, News Group maintained the line that Goodman had acted alone. However, this argument crumbled when it emerged last month that the NotW had suspended Edmondson, a close colleague of Coulson. Pressure on the PM's chief spin doctor increased – ultimately forcing his resignation last weekend as a result. With Coulson gone, one awkward question remains: why did the police target only Goodman and Mulcaire in their investigation when seized papers and mobile phone records provided evidence that others at the newspaper had been involved, and ammunition for successful civil lawsuits?

A Guardian microsite provides extensive background material on the whole affair. ®

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