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30 July 2011

Police open investigation into computer hacking

Allegations of email interception and computer hacking to be formally investigated, as phone-hacking

By Samira Shackle

The Metropolitan Police is setting up a new team to look into other breach of privacy allegations as the phone-hacking scandal continues to spread.

Operation Tuleta will look into allegations that emails were intercepted and computer files were hacked by individuals working on behalf of newspapers.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said:

Operation Tuleta is currently considering a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy, received by the MPS since January 2011, which fall outside the remit of Operation Weeting, including computer hacking.

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Some aspects of this operation will move forward to a formal investigation.

There will be a new team reporting to DAC Sue Akers. The formation of that team is yet to take place.”

The announcement came after Ian Hurst, a former army intelligence officer, said that police were formally investigating his claim that a private investigator working for the News of the World hacked his computer.

Last June, Channel 4 news reported that Hurst had been sent an email in July 2006 containing a Trojan programme that copied his emails and sent them back to the hacker. This included message with at least two agents who informed on the Provisional IRA, both men considered high-risk targets for assassination.

If other allegations such as this surface, it represents a whole new chapter in the crisis engulfing the press. While journalists intercepting the voicemails of Milly Dowler and Sara Payne widows triggered public revulsion, it did not actively put lives at risk. Accessing the emails of intelligence officials could have.

The scope of Operation Tuleta is not yet clear, but it is also entirely possible that it will encompass newspapers other than News of the World. In particular, the actions of Jonathan Rees, a private investigator who worked for both News International and the Mirror Group, are likely to be placed under scrutiny. Expect this one to run and run.

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