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News International facing FBI phone hacking probe

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Rupert Murdoch's News International is facing an FBI investigation after it admitted to intercepting Jude Law's voicemails while it is thought he was in the US.

In a dual blow yesterday, the newspaper publisher was also ordered to permit the search of computers that are alleged to show executives from the News of the World deliberately destroying evidence of phone hacking.

At the high court in London on Thursday, actor Jude Law accepted a £130,000 payoff from News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of News International, after stories had been published in the News of the World using information taken from intercepting his voicemails.

Jude Law

© WENN

Police investigate News of the World journalists over alleged phone hacking

© Rex Features / Jeff Blackler



The actor was among 37 high-profile people to accept settlements in their phone hacking cases before they went to trial, including Ashley Cole, Paul Gascoigne and Alastair Campbell.

One of the articles about Law, published in 2003 by the News of the World, referred to telephone calls the actor's assistant Ben Jackson made to him when he arrived at an airport, believed to be John F. Kennedy airport in New York.

The admission by News International to the hacking of Law's phone has led US authorities to investigate whether the crime took place on US soil, while Law was on an American mobile network.

An FBI spokesman said: "We are aware of the allegations surrounding this matter and are looking into it."

This is not the first time that Murdoch's UK newspaper publisher has been investigated by the FBI, as the bureau last year probed claims that the families of 9/11 victims had been hacked by the News of the World. It is not thought to have found any evidence to support that.

> Jude Law contacted by FBI over phone hacking

Yesterday during legal discussions over the settlements, News Group Newspapers failed to convince Justice Vos that a search of three laptops belonging to senior employees and six desktop computers was "disproportionate", reports The Guardian.

Despite lawyers representing NGN insisting that there had been "no policy of deliberate destruction" at the News of the World, the judge said material that could be found on the laptops "may well, on the evidence of the emails I have already been shown, contain documents or even emails which may bear on the policy of deletion".

He added: "It seems to be a distinct possibility [that data on the laptops] could contain information relevant to the deliberate deletion of email and go beyond just 'colour' but indicate precisely what the deletion was taking place for, which may go far beyond scope of present admissions by NGN.

"I'm entirely satisfied that these laptops should be searched for purpose of relevant disclosure."

Justice Vos also heard how nine out of 10 of the claimants were still waiting for full disclosure on how their phones were hacked by the News of the World.

Jeremy Reed, the lawyer representing some of the claimants, said: "This is like a jigsaw. The claimants are trying to piece it together but we're not sure we've even got all the pieces. Much has been lost or deliberately destroyed."

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