Scottish National Party MSP, Joan McAlpine, has revealed that her phone was hacked by a private investigator working for the News of the World while she was working as a journalist.
It is understood that the phone-hacking occurred in 2005 -2006 when she was working on The Herald editorial team in Glasgow.
McAlpine, voted in to represent South of Scotland under the list system at last year’s Holyrood election, and parliamentary aide to Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, broke the news today in her weekly column in the Daily Record - explaining that police had approached her several months ago to explain she was a phone-hacking victim.
The tabloid carried a front-page story on her revelation under an ‘exclusive’ label. The redtop reported that detectives found her home and mobile phone numbers and address in notebooks belonging to Glenn Mulcaire, the News of the World’s private investigator who was jailed in 2007 for phone hacking.
In her newspaper column– titled ‘An Independent Woman’ - McAlpine said she was left “sickened” and feeling “violated” by the discovery.
She wrote: “When Strathclyde Police called me to say they thought my phone had been hacked, my first thought was for my family. Did some sleazy hack listen to messages from my teenage daughter?
“I felt more sickened when the detective showed me a copy of a private investigator’s notebook, containing not just my mobile, but my home number and address.
“I am not the grieving parent of a dead soldier or murder victim such as Milly Dowler. I wouldn’t dream of comparing my situation to their suffering.
“Nevertheless, it is extremely unpleasant. You feel violated, as though your home has been broken into. It preys on your mind. Were they watching the house when my girls came home from school? Did they have cameras trained on their bedrooms?” She has since sought legal advice.
She continued: “Police broke the news a couple of month ago and, after meeting them, it was agreed that my phone must have been accessed as they had a friend’s number.
McAlpine was employed by News International, owner of the News of the World, from 1999 to 2001 as features editor and columnist at the Sunday Times Scotland, where she edited the Ecosse section.
She left the Sunday Times in 2001 to join The Herald – and held the post as deputy editor of the broadsheet.
She went on: “I have particular reason to be outraged at the phone hacking, as I once worked for News International at the Sunday Times.
“I never came across anything illegal when I was there – nor indeed throughout my long career in journalism. It makes me angry that a few bad apples are damaging a whole profession, which is essential in a democratic society.”
McAlpine is the latest in a series of victims of illegal media practices. On Sunday, the Daily Record’s sister paper, the Sunday Mail, revealed that former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell was also hacked by the |News of the World while in office at Holyrood.
He is suing News International for breach of privacy. The phones of his two children were also hacked. McConnell, like McAlpine, was informed by police several months ago that they had been targeted.
McAlpine added: “…my first instinct was to hope it would go away.
“What I certainly did not feel was a desire to make political capital out of my personal predicament.
“But that’s what allies of ex-first minister Jack McConnell appeared to do this week after it was revealed …that his phone was hacked by the now defunct News of the World.
“It was absolutely disgraceful that his phone was hacked, as was mine. But Lord Jack’s allies have spoiled his case in a clumsy attempt to smear Alex Salmond, who wasn’t even in power when these crimes were committed.
“Labour were in government in both Westminster and Holyrood when our phones were hacked – about 2005 and 2006. It was a Labour government in London that failed us both. They knew what was going on and did nothing.
“I am also disappointed that Labour has tried to exploit Jack Connell’s experience for their own advancement.
“I am a hacking victim, too, and they don’t speak for me.”