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Met will not reopen phone hack investigation

The Metropolitan Police will not reopen its investigation into alleged phone hacking by the News of the World.In a press statement delivered outside Scotland Yard on Thursday, Assistant Commissioner John Yates said that the Met felt it had no reason to investigate further.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The Metropolitan Police will not reopen its investigation into alleged phone hacking by the News of the World.

In a press statement delivered outside Scotland Yard on Thursday, Assistant Commissioner John Yates said that the Met felt it had no reason to investigate further.

"No additional information has come to light," said Yates. "No further investigation is required."

The Guardian on Thursday had said that the Met had been under pressure to investigate phone-hacking claims the Guardian had made following an investigation by journalist Nick Davies.

In an article on Wednesday, the Guardian claimed that the News of the World had used illegal methods to hack into the voicemails of thousands of celebrities in 2006. Moreover, the Guardian claimed that details of these hacks had not been given to all of the alleged victims by the police.

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott was one of the alleged victims of the hack. On Thursday Prescott called for Andy Coulson, who had been first deputy editor then editor of the News of the World, and who is now David Cameron's director of communications, to be fired.

However, Met assistant commissioner Yates on Thursday said that "this investigation showed no evidence that John Prescott's phone was tapped".

News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were found guilty of hacking a limited number of celebrity voicemails at the Old Bailey in January 2007. Goodman was jailed for four months.

On Thursday ZDNet UK asked LSE forensics expert Peter Sommer for his opinion on how the hack had been perpetrated.

Sommer, who was not involved in the original case, said that he thought it had been a low-tech hack, and "not technically exiting at all".

"As I understand it, this was not really hacking at all," said Sommer. "When you have a cell phone you have the ability to listen to voicemail messages through a landline. This requires a PIN. They just tried the default PIN."

Security consultants Safecoms said in an article that the default PIN for UK mobiles is 4444. Safecoms said that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire had keyed in the default PIN to access celebrity voicemail accounts. The investigator also used social engineering to phone the mobile companies and pose as a credit controller to get the companies to change the numbers back to the default PIN, or to pose as engineers, to similarly reset the default.

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