Skip to Content

A brief history of Phone Hacking

image of detail of mobile phone menu showing 48 voicemailsIt is now known that voicemail interception (commonly known as ‘phone hacking’) was widespread at both the News of the World and Mirror Group newspapers during the 2000s. The newspapers would either hire private investigators to access voicemail messages left on the mobile telephones of a huge variety of people (from household names to ordinary members of the public) or the journalists would do this themselves. There are hundreds of individuals whose privacy has been invaded in this manner.

Atkins Thomson has coordinated the litigation against both newspaper groups on behalf of the numerous victims of phone hacking and this page seeks to set out the background to the police investigations which unearthed the phone hacking.

More information concerning the civil court actions brought by the victims of phone hacking on the Information for Victims page.

photo of various mobile phones and default PIN numbers

Phone hacking at the News of the World

In 2005, the Metropolitan Police Service (“MPS”) began investigating phone hacking following suspicions that messages left on the mobile telephones of members of the Royal household were being intercepted, leading to stories appearing in the News of the World. In August 2006, Clive Goodman, the Royal Correspondent at the News of the World was arrested together with the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Both men were subsequently jailed for their involvement in phone hacking.

The original investigation was narrow and it was not until 2011 that further evidence came to light indicating that phone hacking was widespread at the News Desk at the News of the World. In response to this, and the actions brought by Sienna Miller (represented by our firm) and others, the MPS launched Operation Weeting, which discovered that there were hundreds of victims of phone hacking.

The operation culminated in a number of journalists from the News Desk being charged with phone hacking and, following an eight month trial at the Old Bailey, the former editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, and a number of other journalists were jailed for varying lengths of time.

However, it subsequently transpired that it was not just the News Desk of the News of the World which was engaged in widespread phone hacking. Evidence came to light in the claim brought by Kelly Hoppen MBE (represented by our firm) that the Features Desk was engaged in an entirely separate conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages. In response to this information, in 2013, the MPS launched Operation Pinetree which is ongoing and has identified a number of further victims of hacking as well as individuals who were targeted by the News Desk as well. Dan Evans the editor of the Features Desk, have both pleaded guilty to phone hacking.

Phone hacking at the Mirror Group Titles

At the same time as finding out about the Features Desk conspiracy at the News of the World, the MPS discovered that journalists at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and the People newspapers were engaged in phone hacking. To investigate this, the MPS launched Operation Golding in 2013 which is ongoing and has, like the investigations into the News of the World, identified a considerable number of victims and phone hackers.

Notification of Victims

As part of their investigations, the MPS have sought to notify every individual who they identify as a probable victim of phone hacking. This is a considerable task and the process remains ongoing.

An individual who is notified that they are a victim of phone hacking has various options available to them if they wish to seek compensation. More information on this is found on the Information For Victims page

photo of various mobile phones and PIN number 1234