Tabloid Tricks at the Old Bailey
On Monday (8 June), Neil Wallis, a veteran of Britain’s redtop newspapers, goes on trial at the Central Criminal Court in London (the Old Bailey) accused of breaking the law to gather stories. Nicknamed "The Wolfman," Mr Wallis is charged with conspiring with six other journalists on the News of the World, its PI Glenn Mulcaire, and “other persons unknown” to intercept voicemail messages “of well-known people and those associated with them.”
The conspiracy allegedly took place at the headquarters of Britain's most powerful newspaper group, News International, in London between 2003 and 2007.
Until his retirement in 2009, shortly before the hacking scandal erupted, Mr Wallis was one of Rupert Murdoch's most trusted executives. He made his name as a reporter on the Daily Star before joining the Sun. After five years as Sun deputy editor, Mr Wallis became editor of the Sunday People in 1998. He was headhunted back to NI in 2003, as deputy editor of the News of the World .
Mr Wallis is the latest figure from redtop newspapers in the 1990s and 2000s to be prosecuted for offences ranging from phone hacking to bribery of public officials. His case was investigated by officers from Operation Pinetree, a little-known offshoot of Operation Weeting, the long-running inquiry into voicemail interception. The trial is expected to delve deep into the News of the World's newsroom in Wapping, London – and ask who knew what and when about the extensive wrongdoing there. For years phone hacking was poorly investigated by the Metropolitan Police, London's police force.
Martin Hickman will cover the case at the Old Bailey, live-tweeting significant news lines and writing a daily news round-up at the end of every afternoon session. He seeks £3,000 to cover the first half of the trial, in which the prosecution will set out its case - and the defence will respond to that case.
The trial is expected to last 4-6 weeks before the jury is sent out to consider verdicts.