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Did the Irish News of the World make use of info taken from hacked phones?

Journalist who worked on Irish edition in 1990s says they were “well schooled in the grey arts” of rooting out stories.

Actor Hugh Grant calling for an inquiry into phone hacking last year. He recorded Paul McMullan telling him about the use of phone hacking by some journalists.
Actor Hugh Grant calling for an inquiry into phone hacking last year. He recorded Paul McMullan telling him about the use of phone hacking by some journalists.
Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

A FORMER JOURNALIST with the News of the World in Ireland has said that “the kind of tactics” used to secure stories in the English edition “didn’t stop at national borders”.

Newstalk’s Breakfast Show featured an interview with Paul McMullan this morning in which the former deputy features editor defended the use of phone hacking in certain cases. Speaking about the English edition of the NOTW, McMullan said that while he “wasn’t aware” that murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone was being hacked when he worked there, he said he could “understand exactly how it happened”. He said:

You’ve got your boss shouting at you… you have to get an exclusive on Thursday or Friday and it has to hold for Sunday.

He claimed that in the Milly Dowler case, for example, phone hacking could be seen as valid if it helped a journalist put together a “well-researched article” that would “help to find this little girl”. The only mistake the NOTW made, claimed McMullan, was not checking more carefully the credentials of the private investigator they hired. He said former editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks would both have to take responsibility for that.

He said it was a “stupid mistake” for the investigator to have deleted messages from Dowler’s phone, which gave her family false hope that she was still alive and checking her phone.

McMullan was the English journalist who was recorded by actor Hugh Grant speaking about phone-hacking at his newspaper. McMullan spoke openly about phone-hacking at the News of the World last year.

In this morning’s interview, McMullan said that he did a series of articles in the 1990s for the Irish edition of the News of the World. When asked by presenter Chris O’Donoghue if the Irish NOTW had employed phone-hacking as a tactic for breaking stories, McMullan would not definitively commit to a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. He said though:

To be honest, the kind of tactics we used, we didn’t just stop at national borders, we carried them on.

He said that Irish edition journalists were “well-schooled in the grey arts”. He said:

There were many stories in the Irish edition that used the same tactics, they would have been no different.

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