AFP enlisted in British phone hacking probe

The Australian Federal Police has revealed it has been enlisted by British police to assist with investigations into News Corp’s phone hacking scandal.

While the AFP cannot disclose its role in the ongoing operation, it is understood British police have been assisted by AFP staff since July 12 last year.

The news comes a day after The Australian Financial Review (AFR) alleged News Corp was involved in pay-TV piracy in Australia. News Corp has denied the allegations.

The AFR story claims a secret unit within News Corp promoted a wave of high-tech piracy that financially damaged Austar, Optus and Foxtel when News Corp was trying to take control of the Australian pay TV industry.

Pay TV “pirates” crack the codes of paying customers’ smartcards, selling the codes on the black market.

The AFR investigation cited 14,400 emails from a laptop used by Ray Adams, European chief of security for News Corp subsidiary NDS, from January 1996 to May 2002.

In the emails, Adams allegedly suggested spying on a Sydney engineer because NDS feared he was working for one of its rivals. “Getting his itemised telephone billing would tell us who he is in contact with abroad. Do you have the resources to do that?” Adams asked an NDS executive in January 2000.

News Corp has denied the allegations.

“The AFR story is full of factual inaccuracies, flawed references, fanciful conclusions and baseless accusations which have been disproved in overseas courts,” News Limited said in a statement.

“News Limited and Foxtel have spent considerable resources fighting piracy in Australia.”

AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury said: “The AFR fully stands by Neil Chenoweth’s extraordinary report of pay TV piracy involving News Corp subsidiary NDS.”

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