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Miskiw: I hacked Beckham's phone

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Graham JohnsonLondon
Miskiw: I hacked Beckham's phone
In an explosive essay written exclusively for Byline, former NoTW man Greg Miskiw comes clean about hacking David Beckham's phone

By Greg Miskiw

Posh and Becks, Britain's answer to Ken and Barbie. Handsome millionaire footballer marries pouty millionaire pop star and they lived happily ever after in Beckingham Palace.

If you read it in Mills and Boon you would't believe it. Well, not quite. Beck's upheld the age old tradition of pampered footballers, and in the lingo of red-top tabloids, "played away".

He scored with Rebecca Loos. Only it was an own goal - because the ever watchful News of the World - referee of the nation’s morals, blew the whistle on foul behaviour.

It's reporters caught Beckham off side, and handling Loos lewdly in the box. But how did the guardian of truth and justice obtain the world exclusive? They - more precisely I, using Glenn Mulcaire - hacked Beckham's mobile phones so many times it was like the scene of a bloody massacre.

The man despatched to show Becks the yellow card was the NoW's Neville Thurlbeck, a plastic Mackem (Sunderland supporter), whose every sentence included the word 'pet' to underline his Sunderland roots.

Over a period of several months, Thurlbeck must have asked 30 times for phones to be hacked (voicemails intercepted), family and friends to be identified (from ‘blagged’ phone bills) and Beckham's pals and business associates to be found. Thurlbeck was terrifyingly remorseless in his pursuit of Beckham.

He spent four months in Melbourne, Australia, trying to coax Beckham into a telephone conversation with model Sarah Marbeck in which he would admit to an affair. The Chief Reporter spent £42,000 in hotel and living expenses but failed to score the winner and returned to London defeated.

Becks and Sarah continued texting, referring to themselves as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, while Victoria was known as Wendy. England and Manchester United midfielder David Beckham might not be the brightest button in the box but he is surrounded by a team of shrewd operators, and they may have advised him to have several mobiles with several SIM cards.

One for family, one for business, one for his pals and a substitute for matters that need to be kept under the radar. The phones can be registered in the names of friends and members of his entourage - consequently it is difficult to trace ownership.

A year later, in 2003, Becks made a dream move to join the Galacticos at Real Madrid. In the first two months, he and Posh only spent about 30 days together and clearly his sexual desires were not being fulfilled.

His management company SFX made the mistake of assigning the very intelligent, very beautiful Rebecca Loos as his personal assistant. Daughter of a Dutch diplomat, the multi-lingual 25-year-old didn't put up much of a defensive wall when Becks made a play for her.

They were pictured leaving a night club together. 'Becks with mystery girl', read the caption. Back at Beckinham Palace Posh was furious. She rang Rebecca and screamed: "You are not being paid to take my husband to night clubs. Now back off!"

SFX then made a critical mistake. They fired Rebecca. Now she was a loose cannon ready to fire volleys at Brand Beckham worth tens of millions a year - and that is exactly what she did. The brand relied on Becks and Posh appearing to have a happy family life.

Sleazy merchant Max Clifford rang editor Andy Coulson: "I'm talking to a young lady who says she's had an affair with David Beckham in Madrid.” The whistle blew and the second half began. It is said football is a game of two halves. So was this story.

They say never put anything in writing. Clearly Becks had not heard this aphorism.

He wrote down his name and mobile number on a piece of paper and - it was the same note he gave to Aussie Sarah Marbeck and it was his handwriting. Final score Brand Beckham 1 NoW 2. The News of the Screws ran both stories. A tabloid triumph and a high point in the paper's history.

The lowest point, for both the paper and me, was the hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile. A disgusting and shameful act.

Thirteen-year-old Milly was abducted in Surrey on her way home from school. She was missing for six months before her body was found. The nation prayed for her safe return but it was not to be. Her body was discovered in woods in Hampshire. It was not until nine years later that perverted killer Levi Bellfield was convicted of her murder.

It was the Guardian revelation that the News of the World hacked Milly's mobile that rang the death knell of Britain's biggest newspaper. The public were outraged and rightly so.

But the true story is not as clear cut as it has been presented in the media and in court.

Now, finally, some more of the truth can be told.

Master hacker Glenn Mulcaire, who worked exclusively for the NoW, communicated with the newsdesk and spoke to my deputy Neville Thurlbeck. It is a matter of record and accepted by the court that I was on holiday that week.

A few paragraphs were run at the back of the paper then dropped in later editions. Those few paragraphs would make the News of the World extinct!

I could have stopped the Milly investigation but did not - and I will regret that for the rest of my life and am truly sorry for any distress caused to the Dowler family. The News of the World would also still be publishing and wrong doers would be trembling. Somebody once said of News of the World journalists "you live in a bubble where normal rules do not apply." It was true.

#David Beckham, #Milly Dowler, #NoTW, #Greg Miskiw, #Phone hacking