Climate

Scotland Yard to Investigate Murdoch’s NewsCorp for Computer and Email Hacking. Duh!

News of the World executive obtained hacked e-mails

Scotland YardActually, that was a BBC headline — from March!

No, it doesn’t refer to Climategate, but you’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that the NY Times is reporting today:

Scotland Yard will expand its investigation of The News of the World and its parent company, police officials said Saturday, adding a new inquiry into possible instances of computer intrusion to the current accusations of phone hacking and payments to police officers.

The new investigation was opened after an examination of “a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy” received since the Metropolitan Police, also known as Scotland Yard, reopened inquiries in January into possible crimes by newspaper employees, a statement said.

I am one to say “I told you so” — it’s half the reason to have a blog, especially on climate, where the nation’s ongoing inaction all but guarantees that those of us warning of the most dire climatic consequences will be vindicated.

Two weeks ago I wrote, “News Corp and the Hacked Climategate Emails: Time for an Independent Investigation.”  Back then we knew that News Corp in the UK had done phone hacking, and that a News Crop division in this country apparently did computer and e-mail hacking.

Now, as the NY Times reports, Scotland Yard has reason to believe News Corp in the UK was involved in hacking computers and e-mails:

But a former British Army intelligence officer, Ian Hurst, said in a statement that he had been contacted by investigators over allegations that he had made “in regards to my family’s computer being illegally accessed over a sustained period during 2006.” Mr. Hurst had worked in Northern Ireland, running undercover operations. The BBC reported this year that his computer had been hacked and sensitive e-mail had been provided to The News of the World. A spokeswoman for News International refused to comment on the new inquiry.

The investigation opens a new front for News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, already shaken by a scandal that has seen the 168-year-old News of the World shuttered on a few days’ notice and the resignations of two of Britain’s top police officers.

Here is the opening of the March BBC story:

A senior News of the World executive obtained e-mails hacked in to by a private detective, Panorama has found.

Then Irish edition editor Alex Marunchak was sent ex-British intelligence officer Ian Hurst’s private e-mails in 2006, it found….

Panorama obtained details of e-mails from Mr Hurst’s computer that were sent to the News of the World’s Dublin office by fax, and identified the man who accessed them by using a Trojan virus contained in an e-mail.

In my earlier post, I wrote it is entirely possible that News Corp wasn’t involved in the hacking of the climate scientists’ e-mails in November 2009.   Indeed, I’d be surprised if they were (though not shocked).

But I wrote that News Corp would be on anybody’s short list for possible suspects in the Climategate hacking.  That’s even more true with this report, particularly when one includes all of the rogue investigators News Corp was apparently tangled up with.

People tell me that they don’t see a motive.  I would generally agree that News of the World doesn’t appear to have an obvious reason for hacking climate scientists emails.  But then when you look at the staggering array of innocent victims of their phone hacking, some of which seems so counterproductive as to defy even the most perverse logic, then I think the answer is:  If they were involved, it was probably through one of their investigative stringers, many of whom appear to have incredibly bad judgment along with dubious ethics.

Anyway, the point is moot now.  The BBC reports:

A new team of officers is to probe allegations of computer hacking, the Metropolitan Police has announced….

A spokesman said there had previously been a “consideration of allegations” of computer hacking rather than an investigation, but now “some aspects of that operation are being moved towards investigation”.

The Met investigation is understood to include an examination of the covert use of “Trojan horse” computer viruses, which allow hackers to take control of third-party computers.

While I would have preferred an independent investigation, Scotland Yard knows that the world will be watching.  So I expect they’ll do a thorough job and track down all leads, whether or not they are part of the team’s charter.

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