A former News of the World journalist has claimed that the Irish edition of the paper was involved in phone tapping tactics to secure stories.
Paul McMullan admitted to the Newstalk radio station in Dublin that the paper’s Irish edition employed tactics similar to those used in the UK to get stories.
“There is no difference in the way we got stories in the south of Ireland to the way we did it in the UK,” said McMullan, former features editor with the Now.
McMullan, who was caught on tape admitting to the phone tapping methods by Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, now works as a pub landlord.
He told the station’s breakfast show that when he worked in the Dublin office, the same ‘grey arts’ tactics were used to get stories for the newspaper’s Irish edition.
“We did a series of articles in the 1990’s in southern Ireland and the tactics we used were similar to those in the UK. I didn’t do anything hugely underhanded,” revealed McMullan.
Irish advertisers including the Bulmers cider company are beginning to boycott the News of the World as the story dominates the headlines in Britain.
McMullan added: “The mood of the nation has gone against my former employers. But this stupid mistake could change the way investigative journalists operate in Britain. What are we going to get if we limit the power of journalists? You will get more corrupt politicians.”
The former journalist also revealed the pressure put on staff at the paper.
He claimed: “You have your boss shouting at you. You have to find an exclusive on a Wednesday or Thursday and it has to be good enough to sit on until Sunday.”
McMullan also lashed out at Hugh Grant and Boy George in the interview and claimed the paper had the ‘right interests’ at heart when they tapped into the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
He continued: “We were working in tandem with the police to find Milly Dowler. Our interest was to find that girl and produce a well researched article.”
British police have identified two potential phone tapping victims in Ireland and are investigating whether the voicemails of Sean Cassidy, the father of a terrorist bombing victim, and award-winning journalist Greg Harkin, had been illegally accessed.
Cavan man Sean Cassidy, whose son Ciaran died in the 7/7 bombings in London, has been contacted by police and warned that his phone may have been hacked.
“I am in disbelief, we were very open with the News of the World and we gave them open interviews so they were on our side,” said Cassidy.
Harkin was also told police that records were being examined to see whether his mobile telephone was hacked after he wrote a book about the IRA informer codenamed Stakeknife in 2004.
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