Guardian investigations editor David Leigh, a senior member of the team that uncovered the News of the World hacking scandal, himself admitted to hacking voice mails and other ethically dodgy journalistic practices in the pages of his very own newspaper.
"The trick was a simple one: the businessman in question had inadvertently left his pin code on a print-out and all that was needed was to dial straight into his voicemail," he wrote in 2006. "There is certainly a voyeuristic thrill in hearing another person's private messages."
A Guardian spokeswoman told the U.K. free paper Metro: "The Guardian does not and has not authorised phone hacking."
Leigh's article was written after the arrest of Clive Goodman, the royal editor of the News of the World who served four months in jail for voice-mail hacking and has been re-arrested during the current inquiry. Leigh said that deceptive methods like phone hacking were sometimes defensible if they are "clearly in the public interest."
Unlike Goodman, I was not interested in witless tittle-tattle about the royal family. I was looking for evidence of bribery and corruption. And unlike the News of the World, I was not paying a private detective to routinely help me with circulation-boosting snippets. I think the rule should be that deceptions, lies and stings should only be used as a last resort, and only when it is clearly in the public interest. And, as for actually breaking the law? Well, it is hard to keep on the right side of legality on all occasions.
That kind of nuanced moral argument is unlikely to win over many people in Britain given the current climate of outrage. Leigh's disclosure might be the biggest boon for Rupert Murdoch since a certain pie-thrower got a beat-down.
Scandal on Tap [Guardian UK]
Guardian journalist: Phone hacking gave me a 'thrill' [Metro UK]