The Times faces police probe over email hacking allegations
Published Feb 2 2012, 09:37 GMT | By Andrew Laughlin The Times
is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police over allegations of email hacking at the newspaper, it has emerged.
It is understood that police are probing recent claims that a former reporter of the Rupert Murdoch
-owned paper hacked into the email of an anonymous blogger known as Nightjack.
Labour MP Tom Watson submitted a complaint to deputy assistant commissioner Sue Akers calling on Scotland Yard to look into the allegations.
Writing on his Twitter feed today, Watson said
: "The Met police have confirmed to me they are investigating @rupertmurdoch's newspaper The Times
over email hacking."
Last month, The Times
editor James Harding told the Leveson inquiry into press ethics and standards that a former reporter at the paper had been given a written warning for accessing a Hotmail email account
, believed to be for the story on Nightjack.
In his written statement, Harding said: "There was an incident where the newsroom was concerned that a reporter had gained unauthorised access to an email account.
"When it was brought to my attention, the journalist faced disciplinary action. The reporter believed he was seeking to gain information in the public interest but we took the view he had fallen short of what was expected of a Times
journalist. He was issued with a formal written warning for professional misconduct."
It is thought that the reporter was graduate trainee Patrick Foster, who had correctly guessed answers to security questions for the anonymous Hotmail account operated by Lancashire police detective Richard Horton.
Horton's blog had won the Orwell prize for disclosing details of the life of a serving policeman, but it was shut down after he was "outed" by The Times
in a June 2009 article.
The article had claimed that Foster "deduced" the identity of Nightjack. He was later dismissed from the paper "following an unrelated incident", and has since worked freelance for The Guardian
and The Daily Telegraph
In his letter to the Metropolitan Police, which was also sent to the Attorney General, Watson said: "It is clear that a crime has been committed - illicit hacking of personal emails.
"A journalist and unnamed managers failed to report the crime to their proprietor or the police. I must ask that you investigate computer hacking at The Times
"In so doing you will also be able to establish whether perjury or conspiracy to pervert the course of justice have also occurred."
It is thought that the investigation is part of Operation Tuleta, the Met Police's probe into allegations of email hacking by newspapers. This is running alongside the Operation Weeting investigation into phone hacking.