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April 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Actor Hugh Grant secretly recorded a conversation with the former features editor of Rupert Murdoch’s London tabloid, the News of the World, and, in so doing, learned that his voicemail had been accessed by the paper’s reporters. In an article written for New Statesman magazine, Grant has disclosed how, wearing a hidden microphone, he had taped Paul McMullan at the Castle Inn pub that the former journalist, after leaving the paper, now runs in Dover. McMullan had previously admitted that telephone hacking was a widespread practice at the newspaper. “It occurred to me just to interview him straight, as he has, after all, been a whistleblower,” Grant wrote. “But then I thought I might possibly get more, and it might be more fun, if I secretly taped him, The bugger bugged, as it were.” Grant’s interview would appear to widen the scope of the scandal, inasmuch as McMullan asserted in the interview that Rebekah Brooks, the paper’s former editor and now the head of Murdoch’s news operations in the U.K. “absolutely” knew about the illegal phone hacking. Meanwhile, Britain’s Guardian newspaper disclosed today (Friday) that all four leading mobile phone companies in the U.K. have contradicted claims by a Scotland Yard official that police had asked them to warn suspected victims of the hacking. During recent testimony before Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, acting deputy commissioner John Yates maintained that police had asked the phone companies to warn possible victims in cases where there was “even the minutest possibility they may have been the subject of a [hacking] attempt.” The Guardian reported that among the four companies, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, and O2, only O2 warned customers. However, an O2 spokesman said the company acted on its own. “We weren’t contacted by the police and asked proactively to get in touch with customers to warn them if they had been victims.” Scotland Yard has been accused of having an overly cozy relationship with News of the World reporters and attempting to confine the hacking probe to one “rogue” reporter and a private investigator.