Lawyers representing the actress Sienna Miller have alleged that a senior executive at the News of the World ordered a private detective to hack into her mobile phone voicemail account, reigniting a controversy over journalistic practices at the tabloid Sunday newspaper.
In submissions to the High Court, which the Guardian newspaper said it had obtained from the court, Ms Miller’s lawyers also claim that Newsgroup Newspapers, which owns the News of the World, may in 2005 have entered into a “scheme” with Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective, to intercept voicemail messages.
The allegations would, if substantiated, contradict statements from the News of the World and its parent companies that only one journalist, a reporter named Clive Goodman, had acted with Mr Mulcaire to intercept phone messages.
The court documents imply that Ian Edmondson, News of the World’s news editor, had instructed Mr Mulcaire to intercept messages left on Ms Miller’s mobile phones and those of friends, including the actor Jude Law.
Both Mr Mulcaire and Mr Goodman were jailed for offences connected to phone hacking in January 2007.
Andy Coulson subsequently resigned as editor of the newspaper, accepting responsibility for the scandal even though he denied any knowledge of the two men’s illegal activities.
Mr Coulson, now director of communications for David Cameron, the prime minister, declined to comment on the latest allegations.
But in a Scottish court last week, Mr Coulson insisted that he had no knowledge of phone hacking at News of the World and that he believed Mr Goodman was the only reporter who had acted illegally.
In a report on Wednesday, the Guardian said the High Court had granted it access to a submission that forms the main part of Ms Miller’s action for breach of privacy against Newsgroup Newspapers and against Mr Mulcaire.
Mr Edmondson could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The News of the World said in a statement: “We take seriously any allegation made about the conduct of a member of staff of the News of the World during the course of litigation. Should the allegation be proven, we will take appropriate action immediately.”
Last week, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute Mr Coulson over the allegations after studying a police report into the affair.
At the October annual general meeting of News Corp – the ultimate owner of the News of the World – Rupert Murdoch, chairman, denied there had been widespread phone hacking at the paper.
“We have very, very strict rules,” he said.
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