UK prosecutor moots new phone-hack charges

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's top prosecutor has raised the possibility of fresh charges in a scandal over phone-hacking by tabloids, after a string of new revelations and the resignation of a government aide.

Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer said late Monday he had asked a top lawyer to examine old and new evidence with a view to advising whether police should launch a fresh investigation, or bring new charges.

Ongoing revelations over a scandal at the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid, whose royal correspondent was jailed for phone hacking in 2007, led Prime Minister David Cameron's media chief to quit last week.

Andy Coulson edited the tabloid at the time and resigned over the row, although said he knew nothing about phone-hacking by his journalists.

He went to work for Cameron when the Conservative party was in opposition and then moved to Downing Street as his top media advisor when he was elected.

But he quit Friday after saying that the continuing revelations made it impossible for him to do his job properly.

In the latest development, former lawmaker Paul Marsden said he believed his phone may have been hacked by a journalist at another tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mirror, in 2003 -- suggesting the practice was widespread.

In his statement, Starmer said he had agreed with police that a review launched by prosecutors last December into all the evidence relating to the original phone-hacking case should be expanded.

"I have asked Alison Levitt QC (who has had no previous involvement in the case) to take a robust approach with a view to advising whether the Metropolitan Police Service should carry out any further investigation or deciding whether any prosecutions can be brought," he said.

The scandal began when News of the World journalist Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed in January 2007 for hacking into the voicemails of Princes William and Harry.

A number of high-profile individuals, including actress Sienna Miller, are now suing the paper because they believe their phones were also hacked.

Speaking to the BBC, lawmaker Marsden said he believed he was a victim but blamed journalists at the Daily Mirror.

A spokesman for the Mirror said its journalists worked within the law and guidelines set out by the Press Complaints Commission.

© 2011 AFP

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