Onside PR founder James Fletcher was called to give evidence in the phone hacking trial against former News of the World Editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brookes.
Fletcher was a victim of the phone hacking scandal that effectively bought about an end for The News of the World newspaper – after 128-years.
Incredibly, it appears the News of the World were hacking Fletcher’s phone whilst he was working for the newspaper as their Chief Northern Football Writer.
Fletcher worked closely with Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton as well as the England national football team during seven successful years with the newspaper.
His role as a football reporter involving writing ghost columns with the likes of Terry Venables, Sam Allardyce and star players as well as building relationships with managers, chairman, officials, star players and sponsors.
“It was quite a shock when the Met Police originally contacted me to inform me that it was possible I was a victim of the phone hacking scandal, particularly as it involved my former employers,” Fletcher said.
“I was invited to London to view the pages of notes taken from private investigator Glenn Mulcaire was staggered to find records of messages left on my mobile phone.
“I have a lot of respect for both Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brookes and I’d like to think they would not have realised that I had been targeted but it was deeply disturbing and to think the News of the World were hacking their own employees takes the phone hacking scandal to shocking new depths.
“I clearly had no idea it was happening, so much so I text Andy the day he was originally arrested offering to help in any way I could. To think I would actually be dragged into the affair and asked to appear as a witness is almost as shocking as being targeted by the hackers.”
The News of the World was the biggest newspaper in the English speaking world when it was sensationally closed down by owner Rupert Murdoch after details emerged of the outrageous tactics employed by some members of staff.
Coulson was jailed for 18 months over the phone hacking affair after being found guilty of plotting to intercept voicemails between 2000 and 2006, former chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck of Esher, Surrey, received six months, former news editor Greg Miskiw of Leeds six months, reporter James Weatherup of Brentwood, Essex four months suspended and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire of Sutton, Surrey six months suspended.
Former editor Rebekah Brookes was cleared of all charges.
The News of the World was closed in July 2011 after evidence emerged that the newspaper had hacked the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler in 2002.
The Guardian Coverage
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