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. Michael

    Maybe he couldn't face the scope and depth of what this meant for his colleagues whom he's known since the earliest days of his career. What happened? I blacked out for a literacy second.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Choco monster

      I think Gaddafi did it~!

      July 18, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mad Ole Lady

    More people talk the more people will die. This involves people of power and they will kill to keep their power.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. larry

    The message is don't mess with the media and big money. Don't become part of a distraction that draws attention to how the media works behind the scenes. Many of the stories the media types have to write are created from scratch and that takes a lot more time and planning than just reporting the news. Using private data makes perfect sense because you're not going to confirm your sources anyhow. This guy paid a high price for blowing the whistle considering that fundamentally noting is going to change over the long run.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dd

    Leave it to a liberal to turn this into something political. It'll be a sad day in La La Land when CNN and MSNBC are exposed for doing the same thing.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Who Me

      You have turned it political by your first sentence. I view it as British press has been dirty for decades. Just because Murderdoch got busted doesn't change the country.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not Scurrred

      The entire media is rife with this stuff. It's all mind games and distortion, so the viewer is left not knowing anything that is really going on. I find this death to be akin to someone nailing a dead bird to someone's front door. Typical of a coward.

      July 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Who Me

    I reserve all earnings in the future for anything containing "Murderdoch"

    July 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    Me thinks someone should call Hercule Poirot to investigate this dastardly dee.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael

    D

    July 18, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. There, I said it

    The Brits, got something to do besides talking about the Royals. I hope they get rid of those cartoons on Faux.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Name*Mimi Baaba de Santos

    I really hope that proper investigations are carried out...and the culprit(s) found! This doesn't seem like a normal incident to me!

    July 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. just a thought

    Scottlland Yard will get their man unless, -unless–unless, they too are a part of the scandal.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mad Ole Lady

    Their pinging all over the world and have been for awhile now.

    July 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fernace

    The best plan for a snitch is to lay low & stay anonymous. Others in past scandals have lost jobs, reputations & any security for themselves or their families. That's a harsh price to pay for doing the right thing! Ps. emma neil you forgot the burned livestock & crops from all the wildfires throughout the southwest states!

    July 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Not Scuurrred

    Keep doing good. It's better to die with your soul than to live without one and eventually die anyways.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SofĂ­a

    This whole story smells....

    July 19, 2011 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  15. Herbert the Pervert! With a box of orange sherbert! And a pocket-ful of gerbals!!

    @ sofia , ya it smells like the dried come i blew all over your foerhead and watched drip down your cheeks

    July 19, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
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