News International Trojan horse computer hacking allegations emerge

News of the World journalists allegedly went even further than phone voicemail hacking

The Metropolitan Police has expanded a hacking probe at Rupert Murdoch's News International, publisher of the now defunct News of the World newspaper, to include fresh allegations of email and computer hacking by journalists.

The investigation will probe the alleged use of Trojan horse viruses to access and control people's computers. Such viruses appear as a useful application to users, but actually steal their data or harm their PCs.

The police said a new team of officers would carry out Operation Tuleta, the computer hacking probe, and work alongside the operation examining phone hacking, called Operation Weeting. The team will report to Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers.

Operation Tuleta was "currently considering a number of allegations regarding breach of privacy, received by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) since January 2011, which fall outside the remit of Operation Weeting, including computer hacking", the Metropolitan Police said.

In March, the BBC broadcast an episode of television programme Panorama that alleged Alex Marunchak, then editor of the Irish edition of the News of the World, had paid a private detective to obtain the emails of a British secret intelligence officer. Marunchak denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, it emerged last week that the voicemail messages of the mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne may have been intercepted by News International journalists.

In a recent parliamentary hearing, News International chairman James Murdoch told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee that he was unaware of an internal email suggesting hacking by the company's journalists was widespread. That claim has been questioned extensively, but the Committee decided not to ask Murdoch to reappear.

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