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Phone hacking victims' QC hit by trojan infection

Leveson Inquiry halted by malware probe

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The opening day of a judicial inquiry into phone hacking and other privacy-invading skullduggery by the British media was briefly interrupted on Monday - by a suspected Trojan horse infection.

David Sherborne, a QC representing phone hacking victims during the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, was called back to his judicial chambers after a Trojan was found on its network. The concern was that the malware might extract sensitive data from the network, potentially including case files related to the celebrities and public figures victimised by The News of the World that Sherborne is representing at the inquiry.

This makes fantastic fodder for conspiracy theorists, especially since some staff at NotW's publisher News International, and their hired help, are suspected of using malware, as well as phone hacking, in their hunt for celebrity tittle-tattle and gossip on public figures or even (in one alleged case) those handling agents in Northern Ireland. Ian Hurst, a former British army intelligence officer who served in Northern Ireland, claims he was the target of a malware-based hack back in 2006 and accused reporters at News International.

The strain of malware affecting Sherborne's chambers remains unclear and, in the absence of anything to the contrary, it's probably safest to assume it just a regular virus infection unless we hear differently.

The Daily Telegraph's live blog on the hearing reported that Sherborne raised a few smiles with his remarks when he explained why he had to leave the hearing when he said the threat is "in big red letters much like the font used by the News of the World". More commentary on the incident can be found in a blog post by net security firm Sophos here.

Aside from the security related interruption, the Leveson Inquiry heard that notes kept by disgraced private detective Glenn Mulcaire suggested he might have worked for the The Sun (also published by News International) and rival tabloid The Daily Mirror as well as the NotW. The names of reporters at both papers were mentioned in his notes, indicating they may have commissioned work from him. There's no details or much indication on what that work might have been, according to a report of the proceedings. Although Mulcaire was jailed for six months in 2007 after he was convicted of intercepting the voicemail messages of royal aides at the behest of the NotW not all of his work was illegal.

It's far from the first time suggestions have been made that blagging, phone hacking and other wrongdoing extended across Fleet Street. Heather Mills, the former wife of Paul McCartney, claims that a Mirror journalist admitted hacking into her mobile phone voicemails earlier this year. Actor Jude Law is suing both The Mirror and The Sun over alleged breaches of privacy, The Guardian reports. Both papers deny the allegations, which are yet to be tested in court. ®

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