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‘Hacking common in British press’

Phone hacking appeared to be a “standard tool” for information gathering, a former journalist for the Daily Mirror tabloid told a public inquiry into media ethics on Wednesday.

world Updated: Dec 22, 2011 02:08 IST

Phone hacking appeared to be a “standard tool” for information gathering, a former journalist for the Daily Mirror tabloid told a public inquiry into media ethics on Wednesday.

James Hipwell, who was jailed in 2006 for writing stories about companies in which he owned shares, told the Leveson Inquiry that phone hacking had taken place on a daily basis during his time at the paper.

He also threw doubt on former Mirror editor Piers Morgan’s claim in evidence on Tuesday that he had no knowledge that hacking went on there.

Hipwell said: "I would go as far as to say that it happened every day and that it became apparent that a great number of the Mirror’s showbusiness stories would come from that source. That is my clear memory."http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/22-12-11-metro19.jpg

He said he heard one reporter claim to have deleted someone else’s voicemail message so that a journalist from rival tabloid The Sun could not listen to it.

“One of the reporters showed me the technique, giving me a demonstration of how to hack into voicemails,” he told the inquiry in London.

“The openness and frequency of their hacking activities gave me the impression that hacking was considered a bog-standard journalistic tool for getting information.” He said: “The practice seemed to be common on other newspapers as well.”

Hipwell told the inquiry the reporters generally believed hacking was acceptable as celebrities were “fair game”.