News Of The World Whistleblower Reportedly Found Dead

In another twist in the News Of The World scandal, a former reporter for the tabloid who initially alleged that editor Andy Coulson knew about the practice of phone hacking by his staff, was reportedly found dead Monday.

The Guardian reports that though police wouldn’t confirm the identity of the man found dead, it is believed to be Sean Hoare, formerly of NOTW and The Sun, who worked under Coulson but was fired for alcohol and drug problems in 2005. According to the police report, “the death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”From the police statement, via The Guardian:

At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for the welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

Hoare reported on show business for NOTW, and was the first journalist to go on the record with allegations that Coulson knew about the hacking operations. He told the New York Times last September that Coulson not only knew about the practice, but “actively encouraged me to do it.”

Last week he explained to the Times that the paper would allegedly pay $500 a pop for “pinging,” the process of illicitly tracking cell phones, which only law enforcement officials can do legally with case-by-case authorization. Hoare said that once he became aware of the practice, it was his understanding that the information was provided by police officers.

Hoare told The Guardian that reporters would go to the news desk to locate someone and would have an answer within “15 to 30 minutes”: “You’d just go to the news desk and they’d just come back to you. You don’t ask any questions. You’d consider it a job done. The chain of command is one of absolute discipline and that’s why I never bought into it, like with Andy saying he wasn’t aware of it and all that. That’s bollocks.”

Coulson, who was NOTW editor from 2003-2007, has maintained that he was unaware of the hacking. He was arrested for questioning in connection with the scandal, but released on July 8.