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News of the World Phone Hacking Timeline

Phone hacking scandal: Timeline

The extent of phone hacking at the News of the World has stunned the nation and led to the closure of the paper after 168 years. Allegations of phone hacking first emerged in 2005, but police now say there could be up to 4,000 victims including celebrities, sport stars, politicians and victims of crime. This timeline looks at the chain of events that led to the scandal.

  • 18 July 2011

    Met officer John Yates resigns

    John Yates
    Met Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates resigns. He checked the credentials of Neil Wallis before the Met employed the ex-NoW executive, arrested last week over hacking allegations. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been asked to investigate four former and serving officers over their handling of the phone hacking scandal. MPs will now sit an extra day, on 20 July, to discuss latest developments.
  • 17 July 2011

    Met chief resigns, Brooks arrested

    Sir Paul Stephenson
    Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson resigns. Britain’s most senior police officer decides to step down after criticism of his links to former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis. Earlier on Sunday, ex-News International chief executiveRebekah Brooks is arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption.
  • 15 July 2011

    Brooks resigns

    News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks resigns. In a statement she says: “I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt.” Tom Mockridge is her successor. Another senior News Corp executive, Les Hinton, also resigns. He was in charge of News International from 1995-2007 when the NoW was hacking phones. On the same day, Rupert Murdoch makes a personal apology to Milly Dowler’s family.
  • 14 July 2011

    Crisis spreads to US

    Newscorp buildings
    US politicians call for the FBI to investigate whether UK journalists broke US wiretap laws. It follows reports that the News of the World approached a New York police officer attempting to buy phone records of people who died in the 9/11 attacks. There are also calls for a US investigation into reported payments to British police, which could expose News Corporation to charges under US anti-corruption laws.
  • 13 July 2011

    Murdoch withdraws BSkyB bid

    Andy Coulson
    Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation withdraws its planned bid to take full ownership of satellite broadcaster BSkyB. The move came as MPs were to vote for a motion with cross party support calling on him to scrap the bid. News Corp deputy chairman Chase Carey said the bid had become “too difficult to progress in this climate”.
  • 11 July 2011

    NI scandal widens

    Gordon Brown
    The scandal spreads to other News International papers. The Sunday Times is alleged to have illegally “blagged” private financial and property details of Gordon Brownwhen he was the chancellor. It’s Sun stable mate is accused of accessing private medical records about Mr Brown’s son Fraser. In an effort to keep its bid for the remainder of BSkyB alive, NI gets its bid referred to the Monopolies Commission.
  • 8 July 2011

    Coulson arrested

    Andy Coulson
    Mr Coulson is arrested over phone hacking and making illegal payments to police and questioned for nine hours. Clive Goodman is also arrested on suspicion of making illegal payments to police. The prime minister announces two inquiries into the scandal -one to be led by a judge.
  • 7 July 2011

    Murdoch closes NoW

    Colin Myler
    In a bid to rid his company of a “toxic” brand, the chief executive of News International, James Murdoch, announces that, after 168 years in print, the News of the World will close. The Sunday’s editor Colin Myler pays tribute to his staff after publishing the final edition of the paper, on 10 July, describing them as “the best”. The paper says sorry for its conduct and admits: “We lost our way.”
  • 4 July 2011

    NoW ‘hacked’ Milly Dowler’s phone

    Rebekah Brooks
    The Guardian reports allegations that NoW hacked into the voicemails left for murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler when Rebekah Brooks was editor. She says it is “inconceivable” that she knew of the activity.
  • June 2011

    Stars get compensation

    Sienna Miller
    Actress Sienna Miller settles for £100,000 damages and costs from NoW. Sky football pundit Andy Gray accepts £20,000 in damages after his voice mail was intercepted by the tabloid. On 20 June some 300 NoW emails from NI’s solicitors Harbottle & Lewis are given to Scotland Yard. They allegedly show that Mr Coulson had authorised payments to police officers.
  • April 2011

    NoW reporters arrested

    Neville Thurlbeck
    Three former News of the World journalists are arrested. Ian Edmondson, the former news editor at the Sunday tabloid, and Neville Thurlbeck, a senior reporter, are arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and unlawfully accessing voicemail messages. James Weatherup, another NoW journalist is also arrested. News International admits liability and apologises “unreservedly” to several public figures.
  • February 2011

    High Court orders investigator to tell more

    Alex Marunchak
    On 25 February the High Court orders former private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, toreveal who commissioned him to hack phones. In March, BBC Panorama broadcasts allegations that former senior executive editor Alex Marunchak is implicated in the scandal.
  • 21 Jan 2011

    Coulson resigns a second time

    Andy Coulson
    Mr Coulson resigns from his post at Number 10, blaming coverage of the phone-hacking scandal. He said continued coverage of events connected to his old job at the News of the World had made it difficult for him to do his job properly. He added: “I stand by what I’ve said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman, it’s time to move on.”
  • 5 January 2011

    NoW suspends reporter

    Ian Edmondson
    The News of the World suspends Ian Emondson, its assistant editor, news, in the first indication that the paper is taking the mounting scandal seriously. It is reported that Glenn Mulcaire says he was commissioned to hack phones by Mr Emondson.
  • 14 September 2010

    Clamour for action increases

    Sienna Miller
    Scotland Yard re-opens the inquiry to question Mr Hoare and Mr McMullan as witnesses but later announces that no new evidence has been found. Later, on 17 September, Lord Prescott and others launch legal action seeking judicial review of Scotland Yard investigation. In December, Sienna Miller’s lawyers say they have found new evidence in the material seized by Scotland Yard in August 2006.
  • September 2010

    More revelations

    Sean Hoare
    On 1 September a New York Times investigation quotes an ex-NoW reporter – Sean Hoare – who says phone hacking was encouraged at the tabloid. Mr Hoare also tells the BBC that phone hacking was “endemic” at the paper and that Mr Coulson asked him to do it. Another ex NoW reporter, Paul McMullan, tells the Guardian that other illegal reporting techniques were widespread.
  • 2010

    NoW story begins to crumble

    Max Clifford
    In February a Commons culture, media and sport committee report finds no evidence that Mr Coulson knew phone-hacking took place at the News of the World. However, it says it is “inconceivable” that no one apart from Goodman was aware of it. On 9 March the Guardian reports that PR supremo Max Clifford was paid £1m to drop legal action that could have revealed more NoW reporters hacked phones.
  • 1 Sept 2009

    Rebekah Brooks promotion

    Ex-NoW editor Rebekah Brooks leaves The Sun to become the chief executive of News International, a further elevation for one of Rupert Murdoch’s favourites. Appearing before the Commons committee, News International chairman Les Hinton denied former royal editor Goodman was paid to keep quiet about the affair. A second PCC report on hacking concluded that it was not misled by NoW. This report has now been formally withdrawn.
  • 21 July 2009

    Coulson repeats denial of widespread hacking

    Andy Coulson
    The Guardian newspaper reveals up to 3,000 people may have had their voice mails hacked by NoW journalists. The Commons culture, media and sport committee interviews News International executives about the claims.Mr Coulson tells the committeethat he has “never condoned the use of phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where phone hacking took place.”
  • 8 July 2009

    NoW payments revealed

    John Yates
    Details of the payments to Gordon Taylor and two other football figures totalling £1m arepublished in the Guardian. The money was paid to settle legal cases that would have named other journalists who hacked phones. NoW says the allegations are “false”. The next day Assistant Met commissioner John Yates says after “the most careful investigation by experienced detectives” no further investigation is required.
  • 7 Dec 2007

    Nearly £1m paid to ‘keep story’ out of headlines

    James Murdoch
    On 7 December 2007 Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son, James Murdoch, becomes the chief executive of News Corp’s European and Asian operations. In April of the following year, he agrees a payment to Gordon Taylor of the Football Association reported to be £700,000, to settle a phone hacking claim. The deal included a gagging order preventing Mr Taylor from discussing the case. Mr Murdoch later says that he “did not have a complete picture” of the situation at the tabloid
  • 31 May 2007

    Coulson joins the Conservatives

    Andy Coulson
    Four months after he resigned over the royal hacking scandal Mr Coulson is appointed as the Conservative party’s director of communications and planning. A few days later David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, chooses Mr Coulson as his media advisor.
  • 15 May 2007

    Press watchdog backs NoW line

    On 15 May the Press Complaints Commission, the newspaper regulation watchdog, published a report on hacking but said it found no evidence of wrongdoing at the NoW. Later in May, Harbottle and Lewis, News International’s lawyers, also reviewed internal emails between Mr Coulson and executives but found “no evidence” they were aware of Goodman’s actions.
  • 2007

    NoW tries damage limitation

    Glen Mulcaire
    On 26 January Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s former royal editor, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire are jailed for illegally accessing the royal phone messages. As editor of the newspaper at the time, Andy Coulson resigns. Colin Myler takes over. In March, Les Hinton, a senior aide to Rupert Murdoch, tells a Commons committee that a “rigorous internal investigation” found no evidence of widespread hacking at the paper.
  • 2005

    Origins of the scandal

    Clive Goodman
    In November, the newspaper’s royal editor, Clive Goodman, writes a story about Prince William suffering a knee injury. Buckingham Palace suspects the prince’s voicemail was hacked to get the story and in December calls in Scotland Yard. In August 2006, police arrest Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for illegal phone hacking.
  • January 2003

    Andy Coulson appointed NoW editor

    Andy Coulson
    Andy Coulson becomes editor at the News of the World. Appears with Wade before a Commons committee, where Wade admits to paying police for information. In 2005 NoW named newspaper of the year. Mr Coulson tells the awards ceremony: “The News of the World doesn’t pretend to do anything other than reveal big stories and titillate and entertain the public, while exposing crime and hypocrisy.”
  • May 2000

    Rebekah Brooks, nee Wade, becomes NoW editor

    Rebekah Brooks
    Rebekah Brooks (Wade, as she was then) is appointed editor of the News of the World. Gains a profile for her controversial “Sarah’s law” campaign in which the paper began naming sex offenders. During her three years as editor, it’s alleged that NoW reporters hacked the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the parents of the Soham murder victims. She moves to the Sun in 2003.


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