Phone Hacking: Investigation under way in Scotland

  • Published
News of the World papers
Image caption,
The News of the World was closed a few weeks ago over phone hacking

Strathclyde Police are to investigate phone hacking and breaches of data protection in Scotland, the Crown Office has confirmed.

The probe will centre on allegations that witnesses gave perjured evidence in the trial of ex-MSP Tommy Sheridan.

In December he was found guilty of lying during his successful defamation case against the News of the World (NoW) newspaper in 2006.

The NoW was closed at the beginning of July over the hacking scandal.

Sheridan, former Scottish Socialist Party leader, was jailed for three years for lying under oath

He had won £200,000 in damages over its claims he was an adulterer who visited swingers clubs.

Asst Ch Con George Hamilton said: "Following our discussions with the Crown, we have now been instructed to carry out a full investigation into allegations that witnesses gave perjured evidence in the trial of Tommy Sheridan and into alleged breaches of data protection and phone hacking.

"We will also be looking to see if we can uncover any evidence of corruption in the police service or any other organisation related to these inquiries.

"However, I must stress that no specific allegations regarding corruption have been presented to us at this time."

He said his detectives would be working with the Metropolitan Police and other Scottish forces.

"By its very nature, this investigation will require us to allocate varying levels of resources to it," he said.

"There is a huge amount of material to consider and, potentially, a large number of people to contact.

"This will mean that the investigation is likely to be a lengthy one. However, you have my absolute assurance that it will be a thorough one."

Strathclyde Police began looking into the issue after a dossier of information alleging hundreds of people had been targeted by News International was handed to them by Sheridan's lawyer Aamer Anwar.

Blagging or deception

The BBC has obtained a copy of that dossier, which details journalists' requests to private detective Steve Whittamore.

The so-called "Blue Book" features the names of many high-profile figures who later allegedly became victims of phone hacking.

It includes requests for a variety of legitimate, publicly-sourced information, but there are also requests for sensitive information like ex-directory numbers, criminal records, vehicle registration details and Friends and Family numbers, which could be illegal if they have been accessed by blagging or deception.

According to the dossier, the Scottish News of the World employed Whittamore dozens of times.

It contains a few Scots in the public eye, including former rugby star Kenny Logan and his wife, Gabby, a BBC Sport presenter. Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson and actress Natalie Robb are also on the list.

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