Peter Hain has been warned by police that his computer may have been hacked while he served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, it has been reported.
The Metropolitan Police has told Mr Hain they are investigating evidence that private detectives working for News International broke into his computer, as well as those of senior civil servants and intelligence agents in Northern Ireland, the Guardian reported last night.
“This is a matter of national security and subject to a police investigation so it would not be appropriate to comment,” a spokesman for Mr Hain said.
Mr Hain would have had access to high-level security intelligence during his time in Northern Ireland from May 2005 until June 2007, which included periods of delicate negotiations in the peace process. During the Labour MP’s tenure, the IRA completed its arms decommissioning process and Sinn Fein signed up to policing for the first time.
Earlier yesterday the Leveson Inquiry heard that the News of the World hacked into the emails of a former British Army intelligence officer in a possible attempt to find out information about the IRA double agent Stakeknife.
Ian Hurst told the hearing he learned this year that the paper installed a ‘Trojan’ programme on his family computer in 2006 that allowed it to access his messages and other documents.
Mr Hurst said in a statement to the inquiry that the News of the World may have been trying to obtain information about the British intelligence agent within the IRA known as Stakeknife.
The agent handler featured in a BBC Panorama programme broadcast in March this year which alleged that a fax containing extracts of his emails was sent to the Dublin office of the News of the World in July 2006, the hearing was told.
Panorama's journalists told the former intelligence officer that the now-defunct Sunday tabloid hired a private investigator to target him, who in turn commissioned a specialist hacker — referred to only as Mr X — to access his computer. Mr Hurst knew Mr X as someone who had served in the intelligence community in Northern Ireland and arranged to meet him to question him about these claims, the inquiry heard.
He told the inquiry that when police arrested Mr X in April 2009 they found the hacker had obtained his wife's CV, PIN number and documents connected to their telephone number and address.
Ian Hurst served in covert Army units in Northern Ireland between 1980 and 1991 specialising in recruiting and developing agents within paramilitary organisations. Better known by the pseudonym ‘Martin Ingram’, he served in the Intelligence Corps and shadowy Force Research Unit.