Trinity Mirror, publisher of The Sunday Mirror and Daily Mirror in the UK, has revealed police are investigating whether the newspaper group was “criminally liable” for phone hacking by reporters at the Sunday masthead.
The group said the investigation by the Metropolitan Police is “at a very early stage”. It also said it “does not accept wrongdoing within its business and takes these allegations very seriously”.
The move comes after four former journalists at The Sunday Mirror were arrested in March. These were the first arrests related to phone hacking to come from titles other than papers owned by Rupert Murdoch.
The focus of the Met’s inquiries is activities that took place at The Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2004.
When the arrests were made in March shares in Trinity Mirror fell 6.6 per cent, or a four-month low, to 81.5p before recovering.
Rupert Murdoch-owned title The News of the World was engulfed by allegations in 2011 that its reporters had hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and hundreds of celebrities. Mr Murdoch later closed the 168-year-old newspaper following a national outcry.
The scandal also sparked the Leveson judicial inquiry into press ethics, which recommended an overhaul of the newspaper industry’s system of self-regulation.