Press Complaints Commission website
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has found no further evidence of ongoing phone message hacking by News Group Newspapers since its initial inquiry in 2007.

In a report published today, the commission said it was satisfied its work following its report into the Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire's operation at News of the World in 2007 had 'raised standards' in this area.

Earlier this year the commission launched a new report to determine whether there had been new breaches of privacy by journalists using third parties or unlawful methods to obtain information, following a series of articles in the Guardian in July about alleged incidents at News of the World.

"Despite the manner in which the Guardian's allegations were treated in some quarters - as if they related to current or recent activity - there is no evidence that the practice of phone message tapping is ongoing. The commission is satisfied that - so far as it is possible to tell - its work aimed at improving the integrity of undercover journalism has played its part in raising standards in this area," the report concluded.

The Guardian's articles alleged that News Group Newspapers had paid out more than £1 million to settle legal actions that threatened to expose evidence of journalists using private investigators to illegally hack into the mobile phone messages of public figures.

But a lack of dates in the articles required the PCC to investigate whether these allegations referred to activities before or after the 2007 inquiry, the commission said.

As part of its latest report, Nick Davies, the journalist behind the Guardian reports, told the body, which took evidence from national newspaper executives, the News of the World and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, that: "I have no evidence of phone hacking after May 2007 beyond the conversations which I have had with journalists from various titles who say that the practice continues although, they say, it has become more tightly controlled, largely for budgetary reasons."

The commission's report also looked into whether the industry body had been misled by the News of the World in its initial 2007 inquiry into Mulcaire and Goodman, but found no evidence of this.

In its evidence to the commission, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), said it had only received one complaint since Operation Motorman, its 2006 investigation relating to the alleged use of private investigators to unlawfully obtain information. But the ICO had not been able to show that the complainant's information had been illegally obtained in this instance, it said.

"[H]aving reviewed the matter, the commission could not help but conclude that the Guardian's stories did not quite live up to the dramatic billing they were initially given," the PCC said in its report's conclusions

"Perhaps this was because the sources could not be tested; or because Nick Davies was unable to shed further light on the suggestions of a broader conspiracy at the newspaper; or because there was significant evidence to the contrary from the police; or because so much of the information was old and had already appeared in the public domain (or a combination of these factors).

"Whatever the reason, there did not seem to be anything concrete to support the implication that there had been a hitherto concealed criminal conspiracy at the News of the World to intrude into people's privacy."

More to follow from on reactions to the PCC's report.

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