Phone hacking scandal timeline

Thu, Jul 7, 2011, 01:00

Here is a timeline of events in the long-running phone-hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch's media empire which grew today with new claims:

2000 - Rebekah Wade is appointed editor of Britain's best-selling Sunday tabloid News of the World. She begins a campaign to name and shame alleged paedophiles, leading to some alleged offenders being terrorised by angry mobs. She also campaigns for public access to the Sex Offenders Register, which eventually comes into law as "Sarah's Law".

2002 - Teenager Milly Dowler disappears in Walton on Thames, Surrey in March. Her remains are found in September.

2003 - Wade becomes editor of  the Sun, sister paper to the News of the World. She tells a parliamentary committee her paper paid police for information. News International later says this is not company practice.

November 2005 - The Sunday tabloid publishes a story on Prince William's knee injury prompting complaints by royal staff members about voicemail messages being intercepted. The complaints spark a police inquiry.

January 2007 - The News of the World's royal affairs editor Clive Goodman is jailed for four months. Goodman listened to voicemail messages left for the press secretary of Prince Charles and also for two officials who worked for his sons, princes William and Harry. His accomplice, private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, is given a six-month prison term. Goodman and Mulcaire admitted in November 2006 to plotting to unlawfully intercept communications while Mulcaire also pleaded guilty to five other charges of unlawfully intercepting voicemail messages. After the two were sentenced, News of the World editor Andy Coulson resigns, saying he took "ultimate responsibility".

May 2007 - Andy Coulson becomes the Conservative Party's director of communications under leader David Cameron.

June 2009 - Rebekah Wade becomes chief executive of News International. Wade marries Charlie Brooks and becomes Rebekah Brooks.

July 2009 - The Guardian says News of the World reporters, with the knowledge of senior staff, illegally accessed messages from the mobile phones of celebrities and politicians while Coulson was editor.

September 2009 - Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones and former executive chairman of Murdoch's newspaper arm in Britain, tells a committee of legislators any problems with phone hacking was limited to one already well-publicised case. He says they carried out a wide review and found no new evidence.

February 2010 - The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sports Committee says in a report it is "inconceivable" that managers at the paper did not know about the practice, which the legislators say was more widespread than the paper had admitted.

September 2010 - MPs ask parliament's standards watchdog to begin a new investigation into the hacking allegations at the Sunday tabloid and its former editor Andy Coulson. Pressure for a new investigation grew after the New York Times suggested News of the World reporters "routinely" sought to hack phones.

January 2011 - British police open a new investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the tabloid. Police had said in July 2009 there was no need for a probe into the hacking claims. The News of the World announces it has sacked senior editor Ian Edmondson after an internal inquiry. Coulson resigns as David Cameron's communications chief.

April 2011 - Edmondson and News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck are arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept mobile phone messages. They are released on bail. The News of the World admits its role in the phone hacking.

June 2011 - Levi Bellfield is found guilty of murdering schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

July 2011 - A lawyer for Milly Dowler's family, says he learned from police that the schoolgirl's voicemail messages had been hacked while police were searching for her. Police later say that they have also been in touch with the parents affected by the 2002 murders in the town of Soham, where two 10-year-old girls were seized and killed by a school caretaker.

July 5th - News International says that new information has been given to police. The BBC says it related to emails appearing to show payments were made to police for information and were authorised by Coulson. The list of those possibly targeted includes victims of the London suicide bombings of 2005, and the parents of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007.

July 6th - David Cameron says he is "revolted" by allegations that investigators from the paper eavesdropped on the voicemail of victims of crimes and says he will order an inquiry. Rupert Murdoch appoints News Corp executive Joel Klein to oversee an investigation into the hacking allegations. New claims reported by the Daily Telegraph say that the Sunday tabloid hacked into the phones of relatives of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.