British newspapers accused of criminal links
A former British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has accused Rupert Murdoch's media empire of using criminals to obtain his private documents.
In a major new twist in the row that led to the closure of the Murdoch-owned News of the World in Britain, Mr Brown accused its stablemate, the Sunday Times, of using confidence tricks to obtain bank details and legal documents relating to a flat he bought.
He also said he did not understand how The Sun, another Murdoch paper, obtained information that his son had cystic fibrosis, adding that when the tabloid splashed the news on its front page in 2006 he was left "in tears".
"I think what happened pretty early on in government was that the Sunday Times appear to have got access to my building society account, they got access to my legal files," Mr Brown told the BBC in an interview.
"But I'm shocked, I'm genuinely shocked to find that this happened because of their links with criminals, known criminals who were undertaking this activity, hired by investigators who were working with the Sunday Times."
His claims are the first to explicitly drag in other Murdoch newspapers into the long-running scandal over phone hacking at the News of the World, and threaten to further damage Mr Murdoch's media interests.
They come as politicians prepared to question senior police officers about why their original investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World in 2006 failed to unearth the hoard of allegations that have emerged in recent months.
Media reports also suggested that police officers charged with protecting members of the royal family had sold their details to the News of the World, and the tabloid's owners knew about this as early as 2007 but kept quiet.
News Limited said it will not conduct a formal inquiry into whether the company's newspapers in Australia have used information from hacked phones.
The company's director of corporate communications, Greg Baxter, said there was no reason to believe the practice has happened in Australia, and the company would not tolerate it.