Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/01/ni_computer_hacking/

Northern Ireland's top cops 'hacked by NotW' - new claim

NI minister's PC also an alleged target

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 1st December 2011 13:32 GMT

Senior police officers and a Cabinet minister may have been targeted for computer hacking by unscrupulous journalists at News International.

This is according to Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). At the time of the alleged hack, he was chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, a position he held until 2009.

He told a newspaper yesterday that he had been warned that computers he used may have been compromised by private investigators hired by the News of the World. Orde said he was furious and in disbelief when officers from The Met – working on Operation Tuleta* – told him he had been targeted, the Irish Independent reports.

The police chief is the latest in a string of senior figures involved in Northern Ireland intelligence who may have been targeted by hacks working for News international.

Police are also investigating leads suggesting the PC of Peter Hain – who was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland between 2005 and 2007 – might have been hacked. Hain was reportedly asked to confirm that sensitive information obtained by investigators might have originated from his computer.

A former British army intelligence officer tasked with handling informants within the IRA in Northern Ireland told the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics of his suspicions that he had also fallen victim to a malware-driven hack attack. Ian Hurst reckons his computer was compromised sometime during 2006. The possible motives for the alleged hacks, which raise obvious national security concerns, remain unclear.

Computer hacking tactics were also allegedly deployed against targets outside the Northern Ireland intelligence community. Actress Sienna Miller last week told the Leveson Inquiry of her suspicions that her email account had been broken into. Miller said her concerns stemmed from the content of notes made by disgraced private detective Glenn Mulcaire and shown to her by police.

Mulcaire was jailed for six months back in 2007 after he was convicted of hacking into the voicemail messages of royal aides at the behest of the News of the World. ®

Bootnote

* Operation Tuleta is a separate inquiry by the Metropolitan Police into alleged computer hacking by the press. It is running parallel to the more high-profile inquiries into mobile phone voicemail hacking and payments from the media to police. A 52-year-old man from Milton Keynes was arrested and questioned by officers working on Operation Tuleta late last month.