News International ‘hacked Cabinet minister’s computer’

By Alex Stevenson

Ex-Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain's computer may have been hacked into during his time in power, it has emerged.

The Metropolitan police informed Mr Hain that private detectives working for News International could have hacked into his computer during his time at the Northern Ireland Office from May 2005 to June 2007, the Guardian reported.

Mr Hain's computer is thought to have contained sensitive intelligence information, meaning the unlawful access could have compromised national security.

Detectives on Operation Tuleta probing the activities of those paid by News International are working independently of the Met's phone-hacking organisation.

A 52-year-old man was arrested by officers from Operation Tuleta on November 24th on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act. He was bailed to return to a London police station in early December, the Met said.

"Phone-hacking is one thing, but targeting the computers of ministers with high-security clearance takes this police investigation to another level," campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson told the Guardian.

"It also raises questions for News International about whether its management were aware."

News International said a number of newspapers were being investigated.

The Leveson inquiry looking at the media's culture, practice and ethics has already heard claims from witnesses that computer hacking took place.

Actress Sienna Miller said she was convinced her emails had been accessed, while a former Army intelligence officer whose agents penetrated the IRA said News of the World had used a Trojan virus to hack into his computer in 2006.

Meanwhile, the Leveson inquiry is hearing from three journalists working to expose bad behaviour in the press today.

Guardian journalist Nick Davies, whose series of exclusives on phone-hacking originally broke the story in 2009, is giving evidence.

So are former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan – who has claimed phone-hacking was "widespread" at the red-top – and former Daily Star journalist Richard Peppiatt, who resigned in protest over what he claimed was the tabloid's anti-Muslim coverage.