Media Lifeline: NOTW phone-hacking affair

Has News International managed to draw a line under the long-running scandal?

January 2007: The News of the World editor Andy Coulson's resignation is announced on the same day that its royal editor, Clive Goodman, is jailed for illegally obtaining information by hacking into the mobile voicemails of members of the royal household.

July 2009: The Guardian begins running stories suggesting that, over a number of years, the News of the World has hacked into mobile phones to trawl for dirt on a wide range of public personalities - ranging from Sir Alex Ferguson to Max Clifford and Boris Johnson. The Metropolitan Police declines to act but The Guardian is undaunted, producing damning evidence in early 2010 of thousands of instances of probable hacking offences.

March 2010: The News of the World settles an invasion of privacy case brought against it by Clifford, agreeing to pay his legal fees plus an additional settlement sum. Immediately, there's speculation that scores of public figures are planning to bring forward legal suits.

January 2011: With speculation again mounting that the police may be shamed into a genuinely widespread and thorough investigation, Coulson resigns from his latest job as David Cameron's communications director, saying that continued speculation is getting in the way of his ability to do his duties. And indeed, five days later, the police say that, having received new evidence, they might be persuaded to make some enquiries.

April 2011: A statement issued by News International reads: "Following an extensive internal investigation and disclosures through civil legal cases, News International has decided to approach some civil litigants with an unreserved apology and an admission of liability in cases meeting specific criteria. We have also asked our lawyers to establish a compensation scheme with a view to dealing with justifiable claims fairly and efficiently."

Fast forward: November 2011 By the autumn, with police investigations having stalled again, the story seems to have faded from the collective memory. And, spookily, when a journalist is convicted of having hacked into the mobile of the News International boss Rebekah Brooks, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World all manage (perhaps due to an administrative error) to miss the story.

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