October 27, 2011

UK phone hacking scandal spreads to book publishing …


Britain’s phone hacking scandal (eventually to become America’s phone hacking scandal?) took a turn into the book world yesterday, when it was revealed that Scotland Yard had notified a publisher and a literary agent that their phones had been hacked by the News of the World. 

According to a report in the Guardian by Dalya Alberge, “Peter Cox, who worked with the late Linda McCartney, and John Blake, who has worked with Katie Price and Jade Goody, have each been told by the police that they appear to have been targeted by illegal surveillance.”

“It’s a little like coming home to find your place has been burgled, the same sort of feeling, invasion of privacy,” Cox tells the paper, while Blake says, “I was vaguely flattered in a pathetic way.”

As to what, precisely, they were working on that was of such interest to hackers, neither were allowed to say as police are still investigating, although Alberge reports that one unnamed source tells her, “One project was particularly sensitive because it involved royalty.” But Blake would say only, “We deal with a lot of people they might be interested in.” Cox, for his part, notes other journalists were interested in audiotapes of Paul McCartney in his possession as part of his work with the Linda McCartney. He also notes that a project “which had major serial potential … Those were the days when a big serialisation was worth a good six figures,” thus leading him to advise that “Agents and publishers should check if they had any projects that [could be] of competitive significance, especially to the News of the World.”

So what now? As the police investigation into the News of the World continues, Cox says, “I’m quite interested in suing the hell out of them.”


Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives