BLOOD ON THE HACKS: Whistleblower At The Center Of The Murdoch Phone Hacking Scandal Found Dead

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[Artwork byIAN DAVID MARSDEN]

THE GUARDIAN:  Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege [former News Of The World Editor/spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron] Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned. According to a police statement: “The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” Hoare first made his claims in a New York Times investigation into the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World. He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives. In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was “a lie, it is simply a lie”. At the time a Downing Street spokeswoman said Coulson totally and utterly denied the allegations and said he had “never condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place”. In September last year, he was interviewed under caution by police over his claims that the former Tory communications chief asked him to hack into phones when he was editor of the paper, but declined to make any comment. Hoare returned to the spotlight last week, after he told the New York Times that reporters at the News of the World were able to use police technology to locate people using their mobile phone signals in exchange for payments to police officers. He said journalists were able to use a technique called “pinging” which measured the distance between mobile handsets and a number of phone masts to pinpoint its location. MORE

TALKING POINTS MEMO: Last week he explained to the Times that the paper would allegedly pay $500 a sean_hoare.jpgpop for “pinging,” the process of illicitly tracking cell phones, which only law enforcement officials can do legally with case-by-case authorization. Hoare said that once he became aware of the practice, it was his understanding that the information was provided by police officers. Hoare told The Guardian that reporters would go to the news desk to locate someone and would have an answer within “15 to 30 minutes”: “You’d just go to the news desk and they’d just come back to you. You don’t ask any questions. You’d consider it a job done. The chain of command is one of absolute discipline and that’s why I never bought into it, like with Andy saying he wasn’t aware of it and all that. That’s bollocks.” MORE

THE GUARDIAN: It must have scared the rest of Fleet Street when he started talking – he had bought, sold and snorted cocaine with some of the most powerful names in tabloid journalism. One retains a senior position on the Daily Mirror. “I last saw him in Little Havana,” he recalled, “at three in the morning, on his hands and knees. He had lost his cocaine wrap. I said to him, ‘This is not really the behaviour we expect of a senior journalist from a great Labour paper.’ He said, ‘Have you got any fucking drugs?'” And the voicemail hacking was all part of the great game. The idea that it was a secret, or the work of some “rogue reporter”, had him rocking in his chair: “Everyone was doing it. Everybody got a bit carried away with this power that they had. No one came close to catching us.” He would hack messages and delete them so the competition could not hear them, or hack messages and swap them with mates on other papers. MORE

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