Who was hacked? An investigation into phone hacking and its victims

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Police estimate that 5,500 people were ‘likely’ or ‘potential’ victims of
News of the World phone hacking. This figure may rise as new evidence
comes to light.
Due to the incomplete, inconclusive and sometimes incoherent nature
of the evidence, we will never know exactly how many people were
hacked by the News of the World.
Phone hacking was one of a range of methods of gathering personal
information, and was often one of the less directly intrusive. Others
included blagging, pinging, paying informants and tailing.
69% of the 591 victims of phone hacking analysed for this report were
not public figures.
Many of these non-public victims were closely connected to a public
figure – their partner or ex-partner, a work colleague, a friend, a parent,
a son or daughter, or sibling.
Less than a third of the primary targets came from the world of
entertainment or music. The rest were from sport, politics, journalism,
the police, the Royal Household, the law, and the military, amongst
In just under one in ten cases the people targeted had been caught up in
a personal tragedy – for example a relative had died or been murdered,
a drug trial had gone wrong, or they had been injured in a terrorist
It is notable that four consecutive Home Secretaries from 1997 to 2007
are reported to have been hacked, as well as many senior officers from
the Metropolitan police.
The information gained through hacking was sometimes recorded,
sometimes transcribed, sometimes destroyed. It is not known if any of
the information gained has been kept.
Though we do not know, in many cases, what information was gathered
or kept, we know the destructive impact phone hacking had on some
of the victims thanks to testimony given at the Leveson Inquiry and
during the phone hacking trial in 2014.
This report focuses on the actions and consequences of one newspaper,
the News of the World. Mirror Group Newspapers has since admitted
liability for phone hacking and many more people are now taking legal
Original languageEnglish
PublisherMedia Standards Trust
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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