BBC exec 'sickened' at phone hacking by UK's Mirror tabloids

AP News
Posted: Mar 06, 2015 11:07 AM
BBC exec 'sickened' at phone hacking by UK's Mirror tabloids

LONDON (AP) — A senior BBC executive said Friday that he felt "invaded and sickened" by the revelation that his phone was hacked repeatedly by staff at Britain's Mirror Group newspapers.

Alan Yentob, the broadcaster's creative director, told a High Court hearing that he felt "violated on a truly massive scale."

"It is extremely disturbing to think that these people knew about so many aspects of my personal and professional life and my most private of conversations," Yentob said.

David Sherborne, a lawyer for hacking victims, has said illegal eavesdropping was "rife" at the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People newspapers for almost a decade from 1999.

Hacking produced scores of stories, though none was about Yentob. Sherborne said journalists intercepted Yentob's voicemail messages for information on his high-profile friends, who included musician Sting, comedian Mel Brooks, writer Salman Rushdie, architect Richard Rogers and celebrity cook Nigella Lawson.

A judge is hearing a lawsuit by eight claimants — including Yentob, actress Sadie Frost and former soccer star Paul Gascoigne — to determine the amount of damages to be paid to hacking victims.

Trinity Mirror PLC, which owns the newspapers, has accepted liability and apologized to the victims.

"These unlawful activities have long been banished from Trinity Mirror's business, but Trinity Mirror is facing up to and taking responsibility for this historic wrongdoing," the company's lawyer, Matthew Nicklin, told the court.

Britain's phone-hacking scandal erupted in 2011 with the revelation of eavesdropping by the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World. The furor led to the closure of that paper and the arrests of dozens of journalists.

The police investigation initially focused on Murdoch's papers, but has spread to other companies.