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UK phone-hacking scandal: Probe widens to The Times

February 02, 2012 16:32 IST

United Kingdom police has widened its probe into the phone hacking scandal to the most prestigious of Rupert Murdoch's UK papers, The Times, a top Labour MP said on Thursday.

The Times is facing allegations of email-hacking.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who has been at the forefront of a campaign against unethical news-gathering practices at Murdoch's titles, said the police had confirmed to him that The Times was also being investigated for allegations of computer hacking.

Last week, another Murdoch title, The Sun, was also drawn into the investigations when four former and current journalists working for the tabloid were arrested under Operation Elvedon, which is investigating the payment of money to police officers by journalists, for information to be used in sensational stories.

The latest development related to The Times comes after the paper's editor, James Harding, earlier told the Leveson Inquiry that one of his reporters, Patrick Foster, was warned for professional misconduct for gaining unauthorised access to a private email.

In a letter to the inquiry, Harding said: "When the reporter informed his managers that, in the course of his investigation, he had on his own initiative sought unauthorised access to an email account, he was told that if he wanted to pursue the story he had to use legitimate means to do so".

He added: "He did, identifying the person at the heart of the story using his own sources and information publicly available on the internet.

"On that basis we made the case in the high court that the newspaper should be allowed to publish in the public interest. After the judge ruled that we could publish in the public interest, we did."

A police spokesman said: "Officers from Operation Tuleta are in contact with Watson in relation to specific issues he wishes to raise. We are not prepared to give a running commentary on the Operation Tuleta investigation."

On Wednesday, lawyers for Murdoch's News International told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that an e-mail referring to "a nightmare scenario" of legal repercussions from widespread phone hacking at the News of the World tabloid was deleted from James Murdoch's computer less than two weeks before the police opened investigations.

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