Police Blogger 'NightJack' Sues News Corp. Over Email Hacking

Times of London Revealed Anonymous Blogger's Identity in 2009

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News Corp.'s Times newspaper in London, the highbrow broadsheet that has escaped the phone-hacking and bribery scandals at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World and Sun newspapers, was sued by a former police blogger for hacking into his email account in 2009.

The former 'NightJack' blog
The former 'NightJack' blog

The lawsuit by detective Richard Horton, whose unauthorized, anonymous NightJack blog about police work had gained national attention, was filed Wednesday in London. The Times in January admitted the hacking, which allowed it to reveal Horton's identity three years ago.

Mr. Horton, of the Lancashire Constabulary in Northwest England, seeks "substantial" damages, according to his lawyer, Patrick Daulby of Taylor Hampton Solicitors.

The Times, Britain's oldest daily newspaper, is the third U.K. title of New York-based News Corp.'sto come under suspicion of wrongdoing during police probes of phone hacking and bribery at its Sun daily tabloid and the now-defunct News of the World. Police have said more than 800 people, including celebrities, lawmakers and crime victims, had their voicemail intercepted for stories and that more than 30 arrests have been made.

Mary Kearney, a spokeswoman for London-based News International, which publishes the Times, would only confirm that the lawsuit had been filed.

The suit comes as lawyers explore the possibility of suing News Corp.'sin the United States. Those suits would allege that celebrities had their voicemail intercepted while they were in the U.S.

Times Reporter Patrick Foster hacked Mr. Horton's email in May 2009 to expose him as the writer of the blog, and the newspaper argued that his identity was in the public interest.

The Times defeated Mr. Horton's lawsuit attempting to block publication of his name that year by misleading a judge, Times Editor Hames Harding told a judicial inquiry in February. The Times won that case by claiming it had discovered the author of NightJack through legitimate means but was aware of the hacking, Mr. Harding said.

Mr. Foster told his editor and the newsroom's lawyer at the time about the email hacking, and he was advised to continue to pursue the story legitimately, Mr. Harding said at the inquiry.

Mr. Murdoch, News Corp.'s chairman, told the company's annual general meeting in Los Angeles on Oct. 21 that he was "not aware" of computer hacking by its British papers. A week earlier, Mr. Harding had submitted a prepared witness statement to the ethics inquiry, admitting the hacking of Mr. Horton's email.

Labour party lawmaker Tom Watson, a member of a Parliamentary committee investigating News Corp.'swrongdoing, has said police are now investigating computer-hacking claims against the company.

The News Corp.'sscandal started in 2005 with the discovery mobile phones linked to Britain's royal family were hacked, and it was revived last year after revelations the practice was far more widespread. Mr. Murdoch shuttered the 168-year-old News of the World in July to help contain public anger after revelations it hacked a murdered schoolgirl's voicemail in 2002.

His son and heir apparent James Murdoch has resigned from a number of board posts in an attempt to contain fallout from the scandal, most recently stepping down as chairman of the board at British Sky Broadcasting Group, although he remains a nonexecutive director there.

-- Bloomberg News --

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