BBC 'does use private detectives'
Private detectives have been and continue to be used occasionally by the BBC to help make its investigative programmes, the corporation's director-general has said.
Mark Thompson said the use of private investigators has always been done under the BBC's editorial guidelines and the control of programme editors involved.
The disclosure came after its Panorama programme earlier this month aired fresh hacking allegations against the News of the World, accusing one of the tabloid's executives of snooping through a former army spy's emails.
Former Irish edition editor Alex Marunchak used a private detective to illegally obtain private emails from former British army intelligence officer Ian Hurst in 2006, the programme claimed.
The top-selling Sunday tabloid, which has faced a slew of hacking claims, said it had received no evidence from the corporation to support the "serious allegations".
In an interview, Mr Thompson said that occasionally the corporation's projects "have done and do use" the services of investigators.
He told The Times: "Occasionally BBC investigative programmes have used and do use private investigators, always under the BBC's editorial guidelines and under the control of the editors of the programme involved.
"I don't think there's any suggestion that I can detect of any wrong-doing."
He added that it "feels like a bit of a smear" to suggest the BBC had done anything wrong in using outside investigators.
David Jordan, the BBC's director of editorial policy and standards, said he was not aware of any BBC programme using a private detective to hack private voicemails or other people's email accounts.