Former journalist says newspaper in Ireland also hacked phones for stories

The Irish Times – Friday, July 8, 2011

CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent

IRISH EDITION: A JOURNALIST who worked for the News of the World in the Republic has alleged the phone hacking practices used in the newspaper’s UK operations were also used in researching some of the stories for its Irish edition.

Paul McMullan, who worked for the Irish edition in the 1990s when he was based in Dublin, said the tactics used in Ireland on some stories were the same as the processes that underpinned the research process in the UK.

He has since left journalism but has given a number of interviews about the phone hacking scandal that yesterday forced the closure of the paper.

“We did a series of articles in the 1990’s in southern Ireland and, yeah to be honest, the kind of tactics we used, we didn’t just stop at national borders, you’d have carried them on,” he said.

He said the newspaper’s UK headquarters had put their trust in people who presented themselves as private investigators, with no journalistic training, to work on stories of national importance.

“They were asking for trouble,” he said, adding that some of the practices were indefensible.

He said of his time working in Ireland: “We had an Irish edition and they were well schooled in the grey arts, or the black arts, whatever the phrase is that people are using at the moment.”

“There would be no difference in the way we got stories there [in Ireland] or in the UK.”

However, he could not recall doing anything “hugely underhand” while working in the Republic on the News of the World Irish edition.

The Irish Times sought comment yesterday from the News of the World in Dublin. No comment was available.

Garda sources said there were currently no criminal investigations into phone hacking by journalists in the Republic because there had been no complaints about the practice.

The same sources said while a number of media reports have outlined details of Irish people having their phones hacked by the News of the World , these were Irish people living in the UK whose phones were hacked by the UK edition of the paper.

“People may well come forward now and complain they were tapped by journalists in Ireland and if that happens we would act on any complaint,” said one Garda source.