Sean Hoare, one of the first journalists to go on the record and allege phone hacking at Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World was found dead Monday at his home in Watford, northwest of London, the British Press Association said. However, the death was ruled ‘non-suspicious’.
An autopsy conducted Tuesday afternoon “has concluded there is no evidence of third-party involvement and the death is non-suspicious,” Hertfordshire police said in a statement. Earlier, police had called his death “unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious.”
Hertfordshire police said the results were “inconclusive”, but detectives could not rule out suicide until they knew the results of the tests, which could take weeks.
“There was no suicide note found at the scene,” the spokesperson said. “We cannot categorically say one way or another whether this was suicide, as we have not got the toxicology results.”
The postmortem was conducted by a Home Office-accredited forensic pathologist and it began at 2pm on Tuesday.
The examination was a section 20 autopsy, which would ordinarily be used in suspicious death cases. Police said this was just a precaution. “Because of the circumstances surrounding the case and the high-profile nature of the person believed to be involved, a decision was taken for a Home Office postmortem to take place to thoroughly investigate the matter,” a spokesman said.
The former tabloid journalist is understood to have lived in a first-floor flat inWatfordwith his wife, Joanne.
Hoare and the resulting NoTW scandal
Hoare had publicly accused News of the World of phone-hacking and using “pinging” — a method of tracking someone’s cell phone using technology that only police and security officials could access — according to the New York Times. He was one of the few sources who allowed his name to be used when speaking to the Times last year for an investigative report about allegations of phone-hacking by the British tabloid, which was shuttered last weekend as the scandal grew.
Hoare was dismissed from the newspaper for alcohol and drug problems, although he had sought treatment in the past for these addictions.
He specifically accused former editor Andy Coulson of wrongdoing, saying Coulson “encouraged” phone-hacking.” Coulson resigned his Downing Street post in January when police launched a new probe into the hacking allegations.
The Times described Hoare was a “onetime close friend of Coulson’s.” The report added that Hoare said he was “fired during a period when he was struggling with drugs and alcohol. He said he was now revealing his own use of the dark arts — which included breaking into the messages of celebrities like David and Victoria Beckham — because it was unfair for the paper to pin the blame solely on” one reporter who covered the royal family.
Hoare “repeatedly expressed the hope that the hacking scandal would lead to journalism in general being cleaned up and said he had decided to blow the whistle on the activities of some of his former News of the World colleagues with that aim in mind,”Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported Monday.
His allegations ultimately led to Tuesday’s testimony by Murdoch to a House of Commons committee, where he denied ultimate responsibility for illegal phone hacking carried out by his employees.
“I feel that the people I trusted, I don’t know at what level, let me down and I think they behaved disgracefully, betrayed the company and me, and it’s for them to pay,” he said. “I think that frankly I’m the best person to clear this up.”
Last year, when Hoare confessed to the NYT about phone-hacking within News Corp. in general, and under the stewardship of?Andy Coulson in particular, people were skeptical as to whether a journalist who was fighting drug addiction could be believed.
The News of the World had repeatedly asked the NYT to provide evidence to support their allegations and they were unable to do so. Indeed, the story they published contained no new credible evidence and relied heavily on anonymous sources, contrary to the paper?s own editorial guidelines. In doing so, they had undermined their own reputation and confirmed suspicions that their story was motivated by commercial rivalry.
However, his claims were being investigated, and the resulting scandal was too devious and shockingly true to believe. He turned out to be the main whistle-blower, the faithful, true journalist who was hitting back at his former employers for being sacked.
His death couldn’t have been timelier for individuals who are in hot water currently due to his allegations. Having nothing to gain now, this news came as a shock to many, because Hoare now did not have control over the resulting scandal, which is being investigated by independent authorities. Ruling his death as ‘non-suspicious’, only increases support for this journalist.
The publicity surrounding the NoW scandal has had a domino effect, with many top officials resigning from their posts, after coming under the radar for association with the paper.
The rapidly metastasizing scandal has led to the resignations of several of Murdoch’s top lieutenants and of the two top officials of London’s Metropolitan Police, whose officers were accused of taking payments from journalists in exchange for confidential information.
There have been 10 arrests, including those of two former NoW editors, Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Brooks’ arrest came two days after her resignation as head of News International, the British subsidiary of Murdoch’s global conglomerate News Corp., while Coulson had gone on to become Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director.
Sources: cnn, allheadlinenews, Guardian, truthfrequencynews