Briefly: Europe

BRITAIN

New tabloid dragged into phone-hacking scandal

LONDON — One British newspaper already has been felled by the escalating scandal over the interception of public figures’ voice mails.

Now storm clouds are gathering over the Trinity Mirror group, the publisher of Britain’s left-leaning Mirror tabloid, amid allegations that phone hacking was rife there as well.

James Hipwell, who used to work at the Mirror, said hacking was a common tactic among his former colleagues.

“It was seen as a bit of a wheeze, slightly underhand but something many of them did,” Mr. Hipwell was quoted as saying by the Independent on Saturday.

“After they’d hacked into someone’s mobile, they’d delete the message so another paper couldn’t get the story,” he said.

Mr. Hipwell declined comment when reached by the Associated Press, saying he was seeking legal advice before revealing anything more to the media. But he confirmed that the interview was accurate.

The allegation isn’t exactly new. Mr. Hipwell, who was fired from the Mirror in 2000, first aired the claim nearly a decade ago.

His dismissal from the Mirror, coupled with a conviction for market manipulation several years later, also may have gone some way toward denting his credibility.

Still, his claim has received renewed attention, given the intense focus on Britain’s media after the eruption of a phone-hacking scandal that has shaken British politics, tarnished the reputation of the country’s top police force and weakened Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.

GERMANY

Germany grants loan to Libyan rebels

BERLIN — Germany will lend Libya’s rebel council $143 million for civil and humanitarian purposes, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Sunday.

Berlin has opposed the Western military intervention in Libya but has promised to help oust Moammar Gadhafi through peaceful methods and recognized Libya’s rebel council as its sole legitimate representative.

“We have decided to provide the Libyan transition council with urgently needed funding for civil and humanitarian measures,” Mr. Westerwelle said in a statement.

“Due to Colonel Gadhafi’s war against his own people, the situation in Libya is extremely difficult. The funding is lacking to build necessary structures and to overcome supply shortages — from medical care to food.”

“People are suffering more and more from this [shortages], particularly in eastern Libya,” said Mr. Westerwelle.

ITALY

Fire interrupts travel at Rome train station

ROME — A blaze at one of Rome’s railway stations Sunday forced cancellation or long delays for many trains along the nation’s major north-south routes passing through the capital.

Fire officials and the state railways said the blaze began before dawn Sunday in a machine room in Tiburtina station, on the eastern end of the capital. By late afternoon, fire officials said the blaze was finally under control.

No injuries were reported.

Fire and railway officials said the cause of the blaze was under investigation.

For most of the day, only two lines passing through the station were open, but railways spokesman Federico Fabretti said that by midafternoon the number of trains that were running through the station was doubling.

Those lines included regional and medium-to-long run trains. Some high-speed trains running between Milan and the south were rerouted along western coastal lines via the Tuscan city of Pisa to avoid Tiburtina.

At Rome’s main station, Termini, some travelers were taking suburban trains to an outlying station to catch buses being arranged to go to destinations including Florence and Ancona on the Adriatic, where many vacationers head to seaside resorts, according to Sky TG24 TV.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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