The phone hacking scandal that led to the resignation of David Cameron’s communications chief has widened as a media lawyer revealed it now involves newspapers other than the News of the World.
Mark Lewis, who acted for Gordon Taylor of the Professional Footballers’ Association in a damages claim against the NOTW, said he was representing four people who believe they were targeted by other newspapers.
He said phone hacking was used by several publications, and that one of the four claims was being made by a journalist. “This was almost kids’ play time. It was such a widespread practice,” said Mr Lewis.
“Although it is a crime, people were regarding it as though it was driving at 35mph in a 30, that you just sort of do it and hope you don’t get caught.”
Former NOTW editor Andy Coulson resigned as the Prime Minister’s head of communications saying the drip-drip of claims about illegal eavesdropping under his editorship meant he could not “give the 110% needed”.
“I stand by what I’ve said about those events but when the spokesman needs a spokesman it’s time to move on,” he added.
Mr Cameron said he was “very sorry” Mr Coulson felt “compelled” to go after months of intense pressure, insisting he was being “punished for the same offence twice”.
However, Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant said he hoped the Metropolitan Police would now conduct a thorough investigation into the phone hacking.
It is understood Mr Coulson informed the Prime Minister of his intention to leave on Wednesday evening. No decision has yet been taken on a replacement.
Mr Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 after the paper’s former royal editor, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for phone hacking. Although he accepted ultimate responsibility for the illegal activities, he has always denied knowing they were taking place.