Sean Hoare's flat

Police outside Sean Hoare's flat in Watford

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

A man found dead in Watford is believed to be Sean Hoare, one of the first journalists to make on the record allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World, police have said.

In a statement, Hertfordshire police said they were called to an address in Watford at 10.40 yesterday morning, where they found the body of a man pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

Today the force said they believe the man to be Sean Hoare, a former News of the World journalist who spoke out about alleged wrongdoing at the News International title in an interview with the New York Times last year.

Most of the other sources in the article remained anonymous.

Hoare's death is currently being treated as unexplained, but is not thought to be suspicious, police have said.

A post mortem examination is due to take place today and police investigations continue.

"The man's next of kin have been informed and the family are being supported by police at this sad time," a police spokesman added.

In the New York Times piece, published in September last year, Hoare was quoted as accusing former editor Andy Coulson of "actively encouraging" him.

"The two men first worked together at the Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson.

"At News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his pursuits. Coulson 'actively encouraged me to do it', Hoare said."

Andy Coulson, who was arrested on 8 July in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of phone hacking.

Following the New York Times article a fresh police investigation was launched, but director of public prosecutions Kier Starmer said in December there was no admissible evidence to bring fresh criminal charges.

In particular Starmer said Hoare had refused to comment when interviewed by police.

He also claimed that other witnesses interviewed by police were said to have either refused to cooperate, provided short statements which did not advance matters, or denied any knowledge of wrongdoing.

"The contents of the reports in the New York Times and the associated reports and coverage are not enough for criminal proceedings unless those making allegations are prepared to provide the police with admissible evidence to support their assertions," Starmer added at the time.

In an interview with BBC Panorama in March this year Hoare continued to speak out about the alleged practices, claiming phone hacking was "endemic".

"People were scared. So if you've got to get a story, you've got to get it and you have to get that by whatever means," he told the programme.

Update: Police say the post mortem concluded that there is no evidence of third party involvement and the death is non suspicious. Further toxicology results are now awaited and there is an ongoing examination into health problems.

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