THE British phone-hacking saga deepened as it was revealed that the assistant editor of The Guardian – the newspaper that originally uncovered the scandal – admitted hacking into telephone messages and getting a “thrill” from it.
In an article written for the media section of the newspaper in 2006, David Leigh said he hacked into private voicemails in order to explose “bribery and corruption,” not “witless tittle-tattle.”
Leigh, a Guardian executive, wrote the article after News of the World (NotW) royal editor Clive Goodman pleaded guilty to phone hacking, a crime for which he was later jailed.
He wrote, “I’ve used some of those questionable methods myself over the years. I, too, once listened to the mobile phone messages of a corrupt arms company executive – the crime similar to that for which Goodman now faces the prospect of jail.”
Leigh added, “There is certainly a voyeuristic thrill in hearing another person’s private messages. But unlike Goodman, I was not interested in witless tittle-tattle about the royal family.”
He also admitted to blagging – pretending to be someone else on the phone – to get stories and added, “As for actually breaking the law? Well, it is hard to keep on the right side of legality on all occasions.”
The article came to light as it emerged that several alleged victims of phone hacking will soon file lawsuits against a second newspaper group, Piers Morgan’s former employer, Trinity Mirror.
The victims’ lawyer, Mark Lewis, said the claims would be filed in a few weeks but did not disclose his clients’ identities.
So far, the phone-hacking scandal centered on Rupert Murdoch’s News International newspaper group, leading him to shut down the NotW.
The journalist said the trick was “simple” as the businessman in question had left his voicemail pin code on a print-out.