Pressure is building on the Metropolitan police to expand their phone-hacking inquiry to include a notorious private investigator who was accused in the House of Commons on Wednesday of targeting politicians, members of the royal family and high-level terrorist informers on behalf of Rupert Murdoch’s News International.
Guardian inquiries reveal that the former prime minister Tony Blair is among the suspected victims of Jonathan Rees, who was involved in the theft of confidential data, the hacking of computers and, it is alleged, burglary. According to close associates of Rees, he also targeted:
• Jack Straw when he was home secretary, Peter Mandelson when he was trade secretary and Blair’s media adviser Alastair Campbell;
• Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent, all of whom are said to have had their bank accounts penetrated, and Kate Middleton when she was Prince William’s girlfriend;
• The former commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir John Stevens, and the current assistant commissioner, John Yates, who later supervised the failed phone-hacking inquiry for 19 months;
• The governor and deputy governor of the Bank of England, whose mortgage account details were obtained and sold.
Rees, who worked for the Mirror Group as well as the New of the World, is also accused of using a specialist computer hacker in July 2006 to steal information about MI6 agents who had infiltrated the Provisional IRA. According to a BBC Panorama programme in March, Rees was commissioned by Alex Marunchak, then the News of the World’s executive editor, to hack the information from the computer of Ian Hurst, a former British intelligence officer in Northern Ireland who had stayed in contact with several highly vulnerable agents. Marunchak has denied the allegations.
It’s ironic that Blair may have been targeted since he was essentially groomed and backed by the Murdoch empire during his entire reign in government.