Murdoch Hacks Hacked Into Princes' Phones

But cops cared little about commoner surveillance

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 2, 2010 2:52 AM CDT

(Newser) – The mystery's solved over how Britain's News of the World managed to grab several front-page scoops about Prince Wills and Harry's personal life: a reporter and private investigator simply hacked into their cell phones, Scotland Yard discovered. But the intrusion didn't end there. Rupert Murdoch's crew—and likely other reporters—are suspected of hacking into the phones of hundreds of government officials, celebrities and regular citizens—and Scotland Yard seemed to care only about the royals, reports the New York Times. Many of the hacking targets are just discovering now that their conversations were being monitored by a newspaper.

But police actually first learned of the operation four years ago when they found the newspaper's private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, possessed 91 PIN codes that allowed him to access phones' voicemail. “There was simply no enthusiasm among Scotland Yard to go beyond" the cases involving the princes, said the chairman of a parliamentary committee. Several investigators said that Scotland Yard was reluctant to press the probe because of its close relationship with the conservative tabloid. But now, victims are taking revenge with lawsuits. “Getting a letter from Scotland Yard that your phone has been hacked is like getting a Willy Wonka golden ticket,” declared a lawyer. “Time to queue up at Murdoch Towers to get paid.”

Prince William and Prince Harry await the start of a World Cup match in Cape Town earlier this summer.   (AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
Prince Harry and Prince William chat before a World Cup match in Cape Town, South Africa, earlier this summer.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
Britain's Prince Harry, left, and Britain's Prince William, right, speak prior to the start of the World Cup group C soccer match between England and Algeria in Cape Town, South Africa.   (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
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