Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

News of the World man worked for Met while editor of Irish paper

A former Dublin-based News of the World journalist was carrying out potentially sensitive work for Scotland Yard while employed by the paper, it was disclosed last night.

Channel 4 News reported that Alex Marunchak - who was the newpaper's Ireland editor - had been employed by the Metropolitan Police (MPS) as a Ukrainian language interpreter with access to highly sensitive police information.

In a statement, Scotland Yard confirmed he had been on the Met's list of interpreters between 1980 and 2000.

It acknowledged that his employment "may cause concern", adding that some professions may be "incompatible" with such a sensitive job. It said the Met's language services were now looking into the matter. Since the records system became electronic in 1996, we know that he undertook work as a Ukrainian language interpreter on one occasion in 1997 and six in 1999, as well as two translation assignments, totalling around 27 hours of work. It is likely he undertook work prior to 1996 as well, the statement said.

"Interpreters are vetted by the MPS and all sign the Official Secrets Act. They are employed on a freelance, self-employed basis."

Mr Marunchak left News International in 2006 after 25 years. In March, a BBC Panorama programme alleged Mr Marunchak, who worked in Ireland between 1996 and 2006, paid a private investigator to conduct hacking.

Panorama also named him as the News of the World executive who hired a specialist to plant spying software on the computer of Ian Hurst, who was involved in the exposure of former IRA interrogator Freddie Scappaticci as a British spy.

Mr Marunchak has previously denied ordering phone or computer hacking while he worked in Dublin.

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