More newspapers have been guilty of carrying out phone-hacking, according to a lawyer acting on behalf of clients claiming to be victims of the illegal practice.
The News of the World (NoW) has been at the centre of the scandal but Mark Lewis told the Observer that four of his clients had their voicemails tapped by newspapers not belonging to Rupert Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, which owns NoW and the Sun.
“Lots of people were doing it,” said Lewis, who has been preparing the cases since Christmas. “It was such a widespread practice.
“We are at an initial stage in our investigations with police forces and phone companies. But we believe there is a prima facie case that information has been obtained unlawfully.
“This was almost kids’ playtime. It was such a widespread practice. Although it is a crime, people were regarding it as though it was driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone, that you just sort of do it and hope you don’t get caught.”
Meanwhile, the resignation of former NoW editor Andy Coulson from the government’s communication team has prompted renewed calls from Labour for the police to conduct a “full, transparent and thorough inquiry”. Former prime minister Gordon Brown is the latest person reportedly concerned about having his phone tapped.
Downing Street has denied allegations that Murdoch himself had a hand in Coulson’s resignation due to the scrutiny the story has placed on News Corp’s media operations.