Prosecutors get new info on UK phone hacking

LONDON—Police on Friday gave prosecutors new information about a phone hacking scandal that occurred at a British newspaper run by the man who now serves as Prime Minister David Cameron’s top media aide.

Andy Coulson, Cameron’s communications director, stepped down from his previous position as editor-in-chief of the News of The World in 2007 after it was revealed that a reporter at the tabloid weekly had illegally hacked into the cell phones of members of the royal household to sniff out stories.

Coulson always maintained that—despite his resignation—he was never aware of illegal eavesdropping at the paper.

But Coulson’s story has been challenged by a series of recent media reports. An article published in The New York Times earlier this year quoted former News of The World reporter Sean Hoare as saying that Coulson was aware of the practice.

Another ex-staff member, Paul McMullan, was quoted by The Guardian as saying he had commissioned private investigators to commit hundreds of illegal acts on the newspaper’s behalf—and that Coulson knew.

Coulson and the News of The World have denied the charges.

The initial police inquiry also has been criticized.

Scotland Yard found nearly 3,000 cell phone numbers over the course of its inquiry and said that hundreds of high-profile figures were thought to have been targeted—even if fewer had their phones actually broken into.

But critics, including those cited by the Times in September, claim that Scotland Yard scaled back its investigation for fear of alienating the News of the World, England’s biggest-selling Sunday paper, and its powerful owner, Rupert Murdoch’s News International. Scotland Yard has disputed that account, although the police force re-interviewed Coulson earlier this month.

It is unclear whether the new material puts more pressure on Coulson.

Prosecutors confirmed they had received the file and said they would decide what to do with it “in due course.”

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