The Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People hacked BBC executive Alan Yentob’s phone possibly “tens of thousands” of times between 1999 and 2008, his lawyer David Sherborne told the UK High Court, according to the Guardian.
“I had never imagined that my mobile phone was anything other than a safe and inviolate place where I could communicate with all of the people in my life,” Yentob said in court, the Mirror reported. “That feeling has been shattered.”
He added, according to the BBC: “It is extremely disturbing to think that these people knew about so many aspects of my personal and professional life and my most private of conversations.”
Yentob is the creative director for the BBC and managed some of BBC’s top shows including East Enders during the time the three publications, all owned by Trinity Mirror, are accused of hacking him. His cell phone contacts was “most valuable” and “famous,” Yentob’s lawyer told the court, explaining that among his contacts included Salman Rushdie, the BBC’s director journal, Alastair Campbell, the Guardian‘s editor Alan Rusbridger, Charles Saatchi, Nigella Lawson, Sting, Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, and Steve Coogan.
His phone hacking lawsuit, along with seven others, is currently on trial.
“It looks likely that he was a hugely productive source for stories, otherwise why, we say, would there have been vast amounts of calls made to his phone during 1999 to at least 2006 and, we say, up to 2008?” Sherborne said in court, the Guardian reported. “A volume that would have been thousands of calls and maybe even tens of thousands over the period.”
The three newspapers tried to get in his voicemail 330 times from landline phones, the Guardian reported. Two former Mirror journalists, James Hipwell who said he witnessed phone hacking, and Dan Evans, who admitted phone hacking, confirmed that Yentob was hacked daily.
In court in early March, the company’s lawyer Matthew Nicklin said it would pay “full, fair and proper” compensation, the Mirror reported.
“These unlawful activities have long been banished from Trinity Mirror’s business, but Trinity Mirror is facing up to and taking responsibility for this historic wrongdoing,” he added.
Nicklin also said that hacking was limited at the three papers and didn’t involve a “horde” of Mirror and People journalists. “On this last point, it is quite wrong, unfair and unjust, to taint a large number of honest, hard-working journalists with the wrongdoing of a few. The evidence upon which this is sought to be done is paper-thin.”
Mirror Group has already admitted and paid out phone hacking settlements to several others, as iMediaEthics has reported. It settled five hacking lawsuits in January.
The three newspapers published print apologies to phone hacking victims in February.
The BBC declined to comment.
iMediaEthics has written to Trinity Mirror and Yentob’s lawyer for comment.
CORRECTION - March 12, 2015 12:02 PM
Former Mirror journalist James Hipwell did not admit to phone hacking; he said he admitted seeing phone hacking at the Mirror. The Guardian reported: “The court has heard that James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror journalist, claimed that Yentob’s emails were targeted daily by reporters.” We regret the error.