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Phone tapping and the British press

Following the charges against Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s royal editor, both the Independent and the Guardian today conclude that phone tapping had become commonplace.

According to the Guardian much of the work is now done by private detectives. In the Independent, Bill Hagerty, editor of the British Journalism Review and former editor of The People says:

I haven’t been in Fleet Street for years but we were accused of tapping phones at The People. To my immense irritation it still appears in cuttings that The People tapped Antonia de Sancha’s phone [revealing her affair with Heritage Secretary David Mellor]. It would have been illegal to do that. I was the editor and we didn’t do it. But the man who owned the flat did it, and it was not illegal to tap the phone in your own premises. The Sunday Times to my knowledge were tapping people in the Sixties and Seventies from a table in a restaurant on the Gray’s Inn Road with a microphone taped under it. What I fail to understand are journalists who claim not to know or believe that this has been going on forever. That’s the way it operates. If you really want to look into phone-tapping and privacy and unethical behaviour, people should look at the state before they look at the newspapers.

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