Mirror Group faces hacking probe
The publisher of the Sunday Mirror is being investigated over alleged phone hacking by ex-employees.
Trinity Mirror said in a statement to the stock market that Scotland Yard is looking into whether its national newspaper subsidiary, MGN Limited, is criminally liable for alleged unlawful conduct by former employees at the weekly tabloid.
It is thought to be the first formal confirmation that a newspaper group is being probed as a corporate suspect for the alleged phone hacking activities of its journalists.
A Trinity Mirror spokesman said the investigation is "at a very early stage", adding: "The group does not accept wrongdoing within its business and takes these allegations seriously. It is too soon to know how these matters will progress and further updates will be made if there are any significant developments."
It comes after former Sunday Mirror and News of the World journalist Dan Evans last week became the ninth journalist to be charged under the Metropolitan Police's Operation Weeting investigation into alleged phone hacking.
He is accused of two counts of conspiring with others to intercept communications in their transmission, one of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and one of perverting the course of justice.
In March, former Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver, who worked at the paper between 2001 and 2012, was arrested in a dawn raid. Ms Weaver was held with former deputy editor of the newspaper Mark Thomas, current People editor James Scott and deputy editor Nick Buckley. All four were released on bail.
The allegations against Ms Weaver, Mr Thomas, Mr Scott and Mr Buckley focus on the Sunday Mirror in 2003 and 2004. At the time of their arrest, lawyers representing victims of hacking said they had been contacted by police to say they were looking into new claims relating to the now defunct News of the World's feature desk and Trinity Mirror titles.
During his inquiry into press standards, Lord Justice Leveson suggested that phone hacking at the Sunday Mirror's sister daily paper may well have started in the late 1990s. He described Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004, as "utterly unpersuasive" after he claimed to have had no knowledge of alleged phone hacking there.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said he could not confirm Trinity Mirror's statement or whether News International, which has recently been re-branded as News UK, is under investigation as a corporate suspect.