Just when you though the phone hacking scandal was stabilizing, a fresh batch of journalists are blowing the whistle on even more British tabloids. After Prime Minister David Cameron declared to Parliament Wednesday that investigators would be naive to think that phone hacking happened only at News Corp.-owned papers, a number of journalists came forward with reports of phone hacking at News of the World's competitors. In addition to renewed interest in Jude Law's lawsuit against The Sun, the new reports venture beyond Murdoch's empire. The New York Times reports:
Five former journalists at The News of The World’s rival Sunday newspaper, The People, run by the Mirror group, said in interviews that they regularly witnessed hacking in that newsroom in the late 1990s to early 2000. “I don’t think anyone quite realized the criminality of it,” said one former reporter at The People, who spoke on condition of anonymity. A former reporter for the Sunday Mirror, another News of the World rival, described the extensive use of private detectives to obtain personal information. A former senior News of the World editor, Neil Wallis, who has been arrested on unspecified accusations of phone hacking, left The People in 2003 to join the Murdoch tabloid.
Due to what deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers calls "a surge of enquiries and requests for assistance from the public and solicitors," London Metropolitan Police investigators have added 15 officers to, expanding the phone hacking investigation team to 60. They'll continue to investigate News of the World but will also look at the Daily Mirror papers and the Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, more details have been revealed about the Sean Hoare, the News of the World whistleblower who was found dead in his home on Monday. According to The Guardian, Hoare tipped off to The New York Times last week about News of the World reporters purchasing cell phone tracking data from the Metropolitan Police. This highly regulated information that shows the location of a given mobile phone at any given time would more or less provide journalists with full surveillance capabilities. The Times reported that the tabloid may have purchased this data, and police investigators are actively pursuing more information.
These latest revelations put into context Cameron's call for a broader investigation into the media that includes not only Murdoch papers but also the BBC and social media. Under the supervision of Lord Justice Leveson, an appeals court judge in London, a panel of advisers that includes a former editor of the Daily Telegraph and former chairman of the Financial Times--but that conspicuously lacks a tabloid editor--will provide recommendations on new press regulations.
"The inquiry must balance the desire for a robustly free press with the rights of the individual, while at the same time ensuring the critical relationships between the press, parliament, the government and the police are maintained," said Leveson. "At the heart of this inquiry, therefore, may be one simple question: who guards the guardians?"
Well, based on recent weeks's events, The Guardian apparently guards the guardians.