July 18th, 2011
02:26 PM ET

Phone-hacking whistle-blower found dead

One of the first journalists to go on the record and allege phone hacking at News of the World was found dead Monday, the British Press Association said.

Sean Hoare, a former News of the World employee, "was discovered at his home in Watford, Hertfordshire, after concerns were raised about his whereabouts," the press association said.

"The death is being treated as 'unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious,'" the report quoted Hertfordshire police as saying.

He had publicly accused the paper of phone-hacking and using "pinging" - a method of tracking someone's cell phone using technology that only police and security officials could access - according to the New York Times.

Hoare was one of the few sources who allowed his name to be used when speaking to the Times last year for an investigative report about allegations of phone-hacking by the British tabloid.

In his remarks, he specifically accused Andy Coulson - former editor of News of the World, who went on to become Prime  Minister David Cameron's communications director - of wrongdoing.

The Times described Hoare has a "onetime close friend of Coulson's."

"The two men first worked together at The Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson," the Times wrote in its report last September.  "At News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his pursuits. Coulson 'actively encouraged me to do it,' Hoare said."

The report added that Hoare said he was "fired during a period when he was struggling with drugs and alcohol.  He said he was now revealing his own use of the dark arts - which included breaking into the messages of celebrities like David and Victoria Beckham - because it was unfair for the paper to pin the blame solely on" one reporter who covered the royal family.

"Coulson declined to comment for this article but has maintained that he was unaware of the hacking," the report said.

Coulson worked for Cameron until the police launched their new phone-hacking investigation in January, then resigned, still protesting his innocence, but saying he had become a distraction for the prime minister.

Last week, the Times reported that Hoare, a former show-business reporter for News of the World, also described "pinging" by the newspaper.  "Pinging" is a term for locating a person using his or her cell phone number - something that only law enforcement and security officials are allowed to do, the paper reported.

Hoare "said that when he worked there, pinging cost the paper nearly $500 on each occasion," the Times reported.

A second former editor at the paper backed Hoare's account, speaking anonymously, the Times reported.

The Times reported that people on the police payroll were bribed to use the technology to pinpoint people's locations, according to the two former News of the World journalists.

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Filed under: Media • News of the World • United Kingdom
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. lonestarmango

    Early call by the police on such a high profile death only begs for the cynical responses it is getting.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. countryboy

    Day late and a dollar short the news is out. http://WWW.CDBABY.COM/ALL/NUMONE bye now

    July 19, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ramtough

    I'm sure that phone hacking goes on in the USA but the gov't made it legal years ago so there wouldn't be a scandal like this mess by calling it "The Freedom of Information Act". Be aware ppl.

    July 19, 2011 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat2u

    So there are no ideas as to what caused his death. Are they even checking ?

    July 19, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Chad

    Ya SNITCH, ya get iced. It was only a matter of time.

    July 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      You so black dawg, THUG LIFE FO EVA... completely wit ya on diz one, some kid tryna screw up the game by snitching and shiz... ya gotta get him iced. the game is the game

      July 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dear Nick

      How do you for sure that this person is black? This person could be Italian, Caucasion(those from the caucusas moutains-very few), White, Mixed Race (Everyone), Asian(covers most in the stereotype), Hispanic/Latino/Mexican or African (Everyone-for you, that's where life began in its infancy). Your comment, just shows your ignorance... yup, that would make you a............ person who needs to grow-up and find the true character that makes you a "worth while" human being. LOVE is start

      July 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Yikes!!

    We're innocent... Where is your witness to testify against us?

    July 19, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tod

    decoupling national and local prosperity from global markets, education, health care, effective industry oversight with heavy punishments, and a change of the rules about representation in government..... etc. Things that can help our society, but probably won't change enough before the system implodes. If I wanted to point my finger at four things, it would be 1) technology 2) the resulting control humans have 3) unchecked human reproduction 4) over-concentration of political, industrial, and media power. summary: even when you fix all the obvious political & economic problems, you will still be left with humans and the world's f'd up ecology. Question is, have you given up on us all and just want to have your own good times before your death? If so, you should ask yourself when your heart died.

    July 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. synical

    just goes to show if you rise up (possibly by speaking the truth) against somene higher up on the hierarchy ladder chances are you get shut-up...or worse snuffed.
    sick world we live in...the powerful can kill and it's OK...goes without question.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
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