David Leigh, The Guardian's Hacker-in-Chief, Lied to Guido

It will be established over the coming months that the Guardian, far from being whiter-than-white, is as guilty as others of phone hacking. It has emerged, in the style of Piers Morgan, that David Leigh admitted to “voyeuristically” phone hacking. On July 6 this year Guido spoke to him directly and put specific allegations to Leigh that he taught a new generation of journalists, journalism students at City University, about phone hacking. He gave an angry blanket denial of the allegations – which were double sourced – so vehement were his denials that despite the double sourcing Guido held back on publication. In an effort to stand-up the story we sought a third source to no avail. Until today.

After Guido quizzed David Leigh, he had a go at us in the Guardian a few days later, claiming bizarrely that Guido’s source for Damian McBride’s Smeargate emails was News International. He also attacked us in a number of tweets for good measure.  All of which made us even more sure that we were on to something. As we said at the time:

It has now emerged that in 2006 David Leigh admitted in the pages of the Guardian, when hacking was less controversial, that he did it and just as we claimed, he taught his students about it.

There is certainly a voyeuristic thrill in hearing another person’s private messages… unlike the News of the World, I was not paying a private detective to routinely help me with circulation-boosting snippets. That is my defence, when I try to explain newspaper methods to my current university journalism students, and some of whom are rather shocked. 

David Leigh lied to Guido when we put this very allegation to him, he then thrashed about trying to tie us into News International’s sins and even uncharitably called neo-Guido a “clown”.

We’re laughing now.

Anyway, let bygones be bygones, David Leigh is on holiday at the moment, so Guido has emailed asking for an explanation:


When we spoke on the afternoon of July 6th I asked you bluntly “Did you teach your students how to hack phones?” you said “No”.

When I asked “Not even in the context of a discussion about the ethics of hacking?” You said “absolutely not”.

When I said “Why do two sources tell me otherwise?” You said “You have your answer, I am watching the debate” and put the phone down.

Now it transpires that in 2006 you wrote in an article justifying your phone hacking that “I try to explain newspaper methods to my current university journalism students”, exactly the allegation I put to you.

So you brazenly lied to me in response to direct questions. Why?

You then wrote an article which suggested that my source for the Damian McBride emails was News International, which anyone with any sense would realise was a nonsense, journalists not being in the habit of giving hot stories to bloggers who then pass them on to rival newspapers. Why?

Perhaps, on his return, after examining his conscience, he may even consider an apology…

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