Strathclyde Police ordered to investigate phone hacking claims in Scotland

Strathclyde Police are to investigate phone hacking claims in Scotland following the News of the World scandal.

The Crown Office has ordered the force to "consider and assess" the allegations relating to phone hacking and breaches of data protection in Scotland in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police.

The news comes the day after the Sunday tabloid announced it is to close with its last edition this weekend.

On Friday Andy Coulson, the former editor of the newspaper, and the former communications director of Downing Street, was arrested in connection with the claims.

Journalists at the paper have been accused of accessing phones of celebrities, murder victims' families and grieving soldiers' relatives, along with paying police officers for information.

A Crown Office spokesperson said: "In light of further emerging developments regarding the News of the World the Crown has asked Strathclyde Police to consider and assess specific claims of phone hacking and breaches of data protection in Scotland.

"Strathclyde Police will review available information and will liaise with the Metropolitan Police in relation to any Scottish dimension to their current investigations and will thereafter report their findings to the Area Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow."

James Murdoch, chairman of News International, issued a statement to staff on Thursday afternoon announcing the closure of the 168-year-old publication.

He said: "Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.

"Colin Myler will edit the final edition of the paper. In addition, I have decided that all of the News of the World’s revenue this weekend will go to good causes."

The announcement came in the wake of a press conference held in Glasgow by Tommy Sheridan's lawyer over his perjury conviction involving the News of the World last year.

On hearing the news on Friday, Sheridan's lawyer Aamer Anwar said: "I'm glad the Crown Office is starting to catch up. But it's a bit late given that Strathclyde Police had already told us what they were going to do."

He added: "Happy is not a word I'd use. Satisfaction will happen if, at the end of the day, those who committed criminal offences as newspaper journalists are held to account and put behind bars."

Mr Murdoch said this Sunday's edition of the News of the World, which employers more than 200 staff nationally, would have no commercial advertisements and all the revenue from sales would go to good causes.

He praised the paper's achievements but condemned this week's revelations that phone hacking victims may have included murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, bereaved military families and relatives of 7/7 bombing victims.

Mr Murdoch's statement added: "When I tell people why I am proud to be part of News Corporation, I say that our commitment to journalism and a free press is one of the things that sets us apart. Your work is a credit to this.

"The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company.

"The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself."

He added: "Currently, there are two major and ongoing police investigations. We are cooperating fully and actively with both. You know that it was News International who voluntarily brought evidence that led to opening Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden. This full cooperation will continue until the police’s work is done."

The newspaper, which has its own Scottish edition, employs 21 journalists at its base in Glasgow's Queen Street. The figures for May showed average sales of 240,000, making it the second most popular Sunday paper in Scotland.

Thursday's bombshell came hours after the the Royal British Legion dropped the News of the World as its campaigning partner and expressed "revulsion" at the latest phone hacking allegations.

As the day went on more and more advertisers - including some of Britain's biggest companies - said they were pulling their campaigns from the title.

The crisis deepened after Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said evidence from the company listed illegal payments being made to police officers.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who was backed by the News of the World in the recent Holyrood election, said: “This is undoubtedly the right decision, as the paper was irreparably tainted by these disgraceful and deplorable activities."

On Wednesday Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a public inquiry into the scandal.

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