Police to probe new hacking claims
Ex-home secretary Jack Straw and former Labour Cabinet colleague Lord Mandelson have contacted Scotland Yard after fresh allegations that private investigators committed breaches of privacy.
Scotland Yard has assigned officers to undertake a "formal assessment" of the claims to determine whether a criminal investigation would be appropriate, said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Lord Mandelson told The Independent on Thursday night: "I have contacted the Met Police today to ask them what information they may hold from current or previous investigations."
He added: "It isn't acceptable to keep pointing the finger at one newspaper when clearly the use of unlawful means of investigating was, or is, widespread. This is a bigger issue than the wrongdoing of one rogue investigator and that's why this whole issue should be pursued more widely."
Mr Straw said: "I have written to the Metropolitan Police to ask exactly what evidence they have as this is the first I have heard of it."
Channel 4 News said the new investigation has been codenamed Operation Tuleta and involves allegations relating to the interception of emails and hacking into computer files. One alleged victim was a former undercover agent who infiltrated the IRA, said the programme.
The formal assessment amounts to a widening of the existing investigation - codenamed Operation Weeting - into allegations of eavesdropping on mobile phone voicemail messages by staff at the News of the World.
The development came a day after the House of Commons heard claims that members of the Royal Family and former prime minister Tony Blair were targeted by private detective Jonathan Rees on behalf of the News of the World's publisher, News International.
In an open letter, Ms Dick said that the new allegations "sit outside the terms of reference for Operation Weeting" and were being "properly considered" by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).
Three News of the World journalists have been arrested since the Met reopened its inquiry into claims that staff hacked into the answerphone messages of celebrities and politicians.