UK police appeal for patience in hacking probe

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LONDON (AP) - The police officer in charge of Britain’s burgeoning phone hacking probe has appealed to the public for patience as authorities contact thousands of potential victims.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers issued a statement Thursday saying police are sorting through 11,000 pages of material containing almost 4,000 names that could be linked to the News of the World scandal.

She says officers will contact everyone whose personal contact details were found in the documents seized in 2005.

The News of the World tabloid is accused of hacking into the cell phone messages of victims ranging from missing schoolgirls to grieving families, celebrities, royals and politicians in a quest for attention-grabbing headlines.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) _ A phone-hacking scandal cost the News of the World more advertisers and a prestigious link with military veterans Thursday after another paper reported that the tabloid had collected the telephone numbers of relatives of slain troops.

The report in The Daily Telegraph newspaper did not cite any evidence that relatives’ phones had been hacked or that the newspaper had done anything illegal in obtaining their numbers. Nonetheless a storm of outrage followed.

“If these actions are proved to have been verified, I am appalled,” said Gen. David Richards, the head of the armed forces.

The commander of London’s Metropolitan Police, bowing to public concern about the rigor of its investigation of alleged illegal payments by the paper to officers, announced that the Independent Police Complaints Commission would supervise the probe.

“I will personally supervise this investigation to give independent oversight and ensure that it is robust in its attempts to identify any officer who may have committed an offense,” said Deborah Glass, deputy chair of the commission.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said he was “determined” to see any officers who received payments facing criminal conviction.

“I am more than ashamed - I am determined to see them in a criminal court,” he told Sky News.

There were also new allegations of police corruption made by a former senior officer who said some officers received substantial payments from journalists seeking information and tips.

The embarrassing scandal, which includes allegations that journalists hacked into the voicemail of a missing teenager, possibly hampering the police investigations, is taking a toll on Rupert Murdoch’s business interest. He heads News Corp., the parent company that owns News of the World and other British papers.

The share price of British Sky Broadcasting continued falling amid growing concern that News Corp. _ the tabloid’s owner _ would be blocked in its controversial bid to take full control of the broadcaster.

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