Police uncover evidence suggesting News of the World ‘ordered burglary’

The final cover of the News of the World after it closed in 2011 following phone hacking revelationsThe Independent reports today on another twist in the News of the World phone hacking story as it reports that police have evidence that suggests a private detective agency carried out a burglary while working for the now defunct News International-owned tabloid.

It says that the South London detective agency, Southern Investigations, targeted the home of a “newsworthy individual” in an attempt to dig up juicy information.

The paper also reports a former undercover policeman who infiltrated Southern Investigations said that the agency burgled the home of MPs’ in an attempt to obtain embarrassing information for the newspaper.

There are no details on who the newsworthy individuals or MPs might be, but Labour MP, Tom Watson, who has led a vocal campaign on the phone hacking issue said this morning he was writing to Rupert Murdoch.

Watson told the paper that, if proven to be evidence of burglary, the material showed further serious wrongdoing at the News of the World.

The Independent has established that the material – the first suggested link between the News of the World and burglary – is being held by Operation Tuleta, the police inquiry into illegal newsgathering techniques other than phone hacking and corruption. It refers to a “sortie” carried out into a woman’s home in Ascot, Berkshire, and mentions the name of Alex Marunchak – a long-serving executive on the News of the World.

A police assessment indicated that Southern Investigations or an associate had “gained unauthorised access into a private domestic premises with a view to gaining information on the resident”, the Independent reports.

The story this morning follows the news yesterday that News International is now facing almost 200 fresh phone-hacking claims.

Legal action has been confirmed from individuals including the former Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock, former cabinet minister, Stephen Byers, and Louise Woodward, the former nanny jailed in the US for killing a baby.

“According to papers lodged with the high court in London ahead of Friday’s deadline for new lawsuits, the publisher of the now defunct News of the World is facing another 53 civil actions for invasion of privacy, on top of more than 50 filed earlier last week – bringing the total expected to go to trial next year to 174.

“The late flood of new phone-hacking claims includes lawsuits from former Big Brother presenter Davina McCall, EastEnders actor Jessie Wallace, Russell Brand, Katie Price and her ex-husband Peter Andre, former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston, and ex-Cold Feet actor John Thompson, the Guardian reports.