Bloomberg News

News Corp. Hacking Whistleblower Found Dead, Police Say

July 19, 2011

(Adds police statement in fifth paragraph.)

July 19 (Bloomberg) -- A man police said they believe to be Sean Hoare, a former reporter at News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, was found dead at his home yesterday.

The death is being treated as unexplained. and isn’t thought to be suspicious, police in Hertfordshire, England, said in a statement today. Hoare was the first person to allege that former News of the World editor Andy Coulson encouraged phone hacking by his staff, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Hoare worked as an entertainment reporter at the News of the World with Coulson, who resigned as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s press secretary this year as a result of the scandal arising from the phone-hacking accusations. Coulson was arrested on July 8 by police investigating phone hacking.

David Sonn, a lawyer for Hoare, said yesterday that the death was “a terrible tragedy.”

There is no evidence of third-party involvement, and the death is not suspicious, Hertfordshire Police said in a recorded telephone message after a post-mortem was performed today. Police are waiting for the results of toxicology tests, the statement said.

London’s Metropolitan Police are investigating allegations that reporters at the tabloid hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians, and murder and terror victims, and that they bribed police to obtain information for stories. The scandal led News Corp. to shutter the 168-year old News of the World and led to the resignations of two senior executives at the company.

Hoare, who first alleged in an interview with the New York Times last year that Coulson encouraged his reporters to hack into mobile phones, had worked with Coulson at News Corp.’s Sun tabloid before he was dismissed for drug and alcohol problems, the Guardian said yesterday.

Previous Probe

The police reopened the probe in September of last year after a report in the New York Times citing Hoare as saying that everyone at the News of the World knew about phone hacking. The tabloid said in a statement at the time that the article “contained no new credible evidence” and was “motivated by commercial rivalry.”

Hoare refused to comment to police after the New York Times report, leading prosecutors to close the probe again because of a lack of evidence, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in December. Coulson has said he didn’t know the hacking was taking place.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. units in providing financial news and information.

--With assistance from Ben Moshinsky and Blanche Gatt in London. Editors: Anthony Aarons, Ben Livesey

To contact the reporter on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net.


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