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In the High Court in London today the Sun "newspaper", part of Murdoch's News(sic) International, admitting accessing personal information, including messages, on a mobile (cell)phone stolen from a Labour party Member of Parliament in 2010. Their lawyers offered an unreserved apology and a "substantial" payment is being made to the M.P.

Note this is a new twist in the phone hacking saga. Previously investigations and court cases were based on illicit accessing of the voicemail computers through the use of default passcodes. It must also be said that the Sun did not admit involvement in the theft of the phone itself.

The MP - who represents London constituency Mitcham and Morden - had her phone stolen from her car in south west London.

David Sherborne, representing Ms (Siobhain) McDonagh, told Mr Justice Vos that in June 2012 police notified her that they had "obtained evidence that The Sun newspaper had accessed her text messages from about October 2010" and "appeared to have accessed and/or acquired her mobile phone".

A Sun lawyer said the newspaper accepted that her mobile phone "should not have been accessed" and added: "There has been a serious misuse of her private information".

The admission came as the court heard potentially hundreds of people could seek damages from News Group Newspapers following a new Metropolitan Police investigation.

It also looks like overnight an all (three main) party agreement was reached on the body that will replace the Press Complaints Commission as recommended by the Levenson Report.
Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press ethics in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal called for a new, independent regulator backed by legislation designed to assess whether it is doing its job properly, which prompted months of political wrangling.

The Liberal Democrats and Labour wanted a royal charter backed by legislation, while Prime Minister David Cameron supported a royal charter without a law.

A Commons debate and vote were scheduled for Monday, but after overnight talks between the Lib Dem and Labour leaders and a senior Tory minister resulted in a deal, the vote was cancelled. A statement from the prime minister is expected in the Commons later.

The regulator is likely to be able to force a newspaper to issue corrections and apologies, and could also have the power to impose fines.

From reports, it appears that Cameron has caved in by agreeing that Royal Charters established after today could only be amended by a super majority of two thirds in both houses of Parliament is separate legislation from the establishing of the Charter itself. This should be clearer later as Cameron's spokesperson has just issued a statement claiming this does not represent statutory underpinning of the new body.

Originally posted to Lib Dem FoP on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 05:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Murdochgate Investigators.

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