British police widen hacking investigations to computers

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British police said Friday they are to set up a new team to investigate allegations of computer hacking arising from their probe into phone hacking at the defunct News of the World newspaper.

Scotland Yard said some allegations that had been raised during its latest investigation, launched in January, into breach of privacy at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid were outside the remit of the current probe.

The current investigation, called Operation Weeting, is looking at allegations of phone hacking but the new investigation, called Operation Tuleta, would look at the new claims, which included computer hacking.

Operation Tuleta was "currently considering a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy, received by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) since January 2011, which fall outside the remit of Operation Weeting, including computer hacking," Scotland Yard said in a statement.

"Some aspects of this operation will move forward to a formal investigation.

"There will be a new team reporting (to) DAC (Deputy Assistant Commissioner) Sue Akers. The formation of that team is yet to take place."

Akers is already in charge of Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden, which is examining alleged bribery of police officers.

The Metropolitan Police have faced fierce criticism over their failure to properly investigate allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World (NotW), axed earlier this month, during an initial probe in 2006.

That investigation led to the jailing in 2007 of the paper's royal editor and a private investigator but for several years the force refused to revive the probe despite mounting evidence the practice was more widespread.

The force finally bowed to pressure and reopened the probe in January.

But the scandal only erupted into a full-blown crisis this month when allegations emerged that the paper hacked into the phones of a murdered teenager and relatives of dead British servicemen.

The controversy has also thrown the spotlight on the police's links to News International, Murdoch's British newspaper publisher that owned the NotW, prompting the resignation of two of the country's top police officers.

© 2011 AFP

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