Hacking scandal spreads to The Times as paper investigated

The Times is being investigated by the Metropolitan police over email hacking claims, according to a BBC report. There are few details available yet, but is another sign that News International can not shake-off hacking allegations.

News of the investigation comes after it emerged at the Leveson inquiry last month that a controversial 2009 Times article that outed an anonymous police blogger, known as Nightjack, was based on material obtained by hacking a Hotmail email account.

The BBC report says that Labour MP Tom Watson says he has received confirmation from the Met (see letter below) that the Times is being investigated. He said he was contacted by officers from Operation Tuleta, which is the Met’s investigation into computer hacking.

“Mr Watson, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said on Twitter: “The Met police have confirmed to me they are investigating [Rupert Murdoch’s] newspaper The Times over email hacking.”

“He had previously written to the police on 23 January to ask whether they would investigate the matter after the newspaper admitted that one of its reporters tried to access a private account, the BBC reports.

The news follows the arrest of four Sun journalists at the weekend and earlier this week Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to deny that the launch of the Sun on Sunday launch was on hold following the arrests.

The involvement of The Times in hacking came to light at the Leveson inquiry. James Harding revealed on January 17 that he had disciplined the reporter involved for accessing the email account, which the Times used to identify Lancashire detective Richard Horton.

Horton had tried and failed in a legal bid to protect his anonymity and the paper outed him. Horton’s blog was then closed down and he was reprimanded by his police superiors.

Harding told the inquiry: “There was an incident where the newsroom was concerned that a reporter had gained unauthorised access to an email account. When it was brought to my attention, the journalist faced disciplinary action. The reporter believed he was seeking to gain information in the public interest but we took the view he had fallen short of what was expected of a Times journalist. He was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct.”