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. Scottish Mama

    Oh good, I am glad the police are handling the death of the person who turned the police and Coulson in. We know how well that came out last time.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • someguy

      You snitch you die. He knew the rules of the street and he decided to play. His death is his fault and his fault alone

      July 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeanHoaresAssassin

      He died of completely natural causes. There's no doubt and no one should investigate any further. Completely unrelated I do however agree with someguy.

      July 19, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Duane - St.Pete FL

    even if he died of natural causes, no one will belive....

    July 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |

    i guess he blew his last whistle....

    July 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Duane - St.Pete FL

    even if he died of natural causes, no one will believe....

    July 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scottish Mama

    It does seem kinda suspitious though, right when his whistleblowing would pay off?

    July 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scottish Mama

    I wonder if the PM will be implicated? I guess then the opposition party will take a vote of no confidence. Who takes over the UK?

    July 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. es lastima

    The worms crawl in the worms crawl out the worms play pinochle in his snout

    July 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. drbstiner - Chicago, IL

    @Duane : How sad.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. larry

    Someone once said sniches get stiches.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bobba Fett

    I guess he got his.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dbro

    wheres casey anthony? Can you pingping her too??

    July 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mmmmm

    Was it really necessay turn this ruckus into an Agatha Christie novel?

    July 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pansie

    i hope all the British tabloids are closed down they are the pits

    July 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Name*whistle blower

    Boy they sure has number.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Maude

    Freemasons of the world be aware! You guys will eat your own young to protect the Grandmaster "the wicked one".
    Old Rupert guy is the fall guy.

    One dead and counting.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
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