A former New York police officer claims he was offered money by News of the World journalists to retrieve the private phone records of 9-11 victims.
It’s the latest claim to be made in the phone hacking scandal that has already seen the British tabloid shut down.
Media baron Rupert Murdoch has flown into London to take personal charge of the scandal, as calls mounted for the government to block his BSkyB bid.
Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire is set to take full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB, but Labour leader Ed Miliband led fresh calls for the proposed deal to be delayed until an ongoing police investigation is completed.
Murdoch backed under-fire News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks as the pair left his home following crisis talks on Sunday.
When asked what his priority was, the tycoon gestured towards Brooks and said: “this one”
The fresh allegations about the 9-11 victims were detailed by the Daily Mirror newspaper.
It said the ex-officer, who now works as a private investigator, claimed reporters wanted the victim’s phone numbers and the details of calls they’d made and received in the days leading up to the attack.
The newspaper said a source told it the investigator believed the journalists wanted the information so they could hack into the victims’ voicemails – particularly those of British victims.
The investigator turned down the job, because he knew how bad it would look, the Daily Mirror said.
Pressure to stall BSkyB bid
Meanwhile the pressure is growing on David Cameron’s government over Murdoch’s BSkyB bid, with opposition leader Ed Miliband saying the public would not accept that a group which engaged in “terrible practices” be allowed to take over BSkyB while a police investigation was still ongoing.
He threatened to force a vote in parliament on suspending consideration of the proposed takeover until the criminal probe into hacking is complete.
The deal must be delayed following the `”disgusting revelations” about the “terrible practices” at the News of the World, he said.
The idea that News Corp. “should be allowed to take over BSkyB, to get that 100 percent stake, without the criminal investigation having been completed… frankly that just won’t wash with the public,” he told BBC television.
News Corp.’s bid to buy the 61 percent of BSkyB that it did not already own originally looked set to go through in the coming days, but the government has now suggested that it could be delayed for several months amid the furore.