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LONDON – Former News of the World features editor Paul McMullan stunned the Leveson Inquiry Tuesday with a catalog of examples of phone hacking activities he had carried out while working at the newspaper.
McMullan, who was not a voluntary witness but who had been summoned to give evidence under oath, said his former bosses were fully aware of the extent of phone-hacking and that transcripts and recordings of hacked phones were regularly listened to by senior executives and that interviews were run past News of the World lawyer Tom Crone.
“We did all these things for our editors, for Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. They should have had the strength of their conviction to say, yes, sometimes you have to enter into a grey area or a black illegal area for the good of our readers – and yes sometimes we asked our journalists to do these things,” he said.
Instead, McMullan said, Brooks and Coulson tried to distance themselves and said they knew nothing about the practices.
“They should have been the heroes of journalism but actually they are not. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are the scum of journalism for trying to drop me an my colleagues in it,” he said.
McMullan told the Inquiry how he had once tried to hack David Beckham’s phone, only to be taken aback when the footballer picked up.
He also said that the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone had been “not a bad thing for a journalist, a well meaning journalist to do” and was intended to help find the missing girl.
“Our intentions were good, or intentions were honorable, we were trying to do our best to find the little girl. The police are utterly incompetent.”
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