Phone hacking: number of possible victims is almost 5,800

The Guardian is reporting this morning that the total number of possible phone hacking victims could stand at almost 5,800 — and that number could yet rise as the police investigation into News International and the News of the World continues.

That is incredible figure. That is the equivalent of hacking the entire population of a small town. More than that it is, as the Guardian notes, industrial in scale. Not a one man band, but a small business venture.

What is more incredible is that two years ago the Guardian thought the total phone hacking victim figure might be as high as 3,000 and that did seem high. However, as the police continue to investigate the true horror of what went on at the News of the World is revealed.

Rupert Murdoch has missed an opportunity and should have followed his daughter Elisabeth Murdoch’s advice and sacked James Murdoch. He must know so much about this. I wonder what we will hear when he returns to the commons next week?

Yesterday, it was revealed in Vanity Fair that sacking James was the advice Ms Murdoch had given to her father as she said that James had allowed the phone hacking scandal to “spiral out of control”. The true scale of how it spiraled is only now apparent.

“A spokesman for Scotland Yard said: “It is not possible to give a precise figure about the number of people whose phones have actually been hacked but we can confirm that as of today’s date, 3 November 2011, the current number of potentially identifiable persons who appear in the material, and who may therefore be victims, where names are noted, is 5,795. This figure is very likely to be revised in the future as a result of further analysis.”

“The Guardian’s original story in 2009 suggested that between 2,000 and 3,000 individuals may have been victims of phone hacking and this was dismissed at the time,” the Guardian reports.