A former reporter at News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid, who was the first person to allege its editor, Andy Coulson, encouraged phone hacking by his staff, was found dead, the Guardian newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.
Sean Hoare’s body was discovered this morning at his home in Watford, England, after police were called to the house, the Guardian said. The death is not thought to be suspicious, the newspaper said, citing a police statement that did not name Hoare.
Hoare worked as an entertainment reporter at the News of the World with Coulson, who resigned as U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s press secretary earlier this year because of the scandal.
Hoare first alleged that Coulson encouraged his reporters to hack into mobile phones in an interview with the New York Times last year. He had also worked with Coulson at News Corp.’s Sun tabloid before he was dismissed for drug and alcohol problems, the Guardian said.
Officials for police in Hertfordshire couldn’t be reached for comment and the Metropolitan Police Service in London said it wasn’t aware of the case.
David Sonn, a lawyer for Hoare, said he didn’t know about it, and if the report is true, it is “a terrible tragedy.”
London’s Metropolitan Police is investigating allegations that reporters at the tabloid hacked into the phones of celebrities, politicians, and murder and terror victims, and bribed police for stories. The scandal forced News Corp. to shutter the 168-year old News of the World, and led to the resignations of two senior executives at the company.
The police had previously re-opened the probe in September last year after a report in the New York Times that cited Hoare. The report quoted Hoare saying everyone at the News of the World, knew about phone hacking. The tabloid said in a statement at the time that the article “contained no new credible evidence” and was “motivated by commercial rivalry.”
Hoare refused to comment to police after the New York Times report, forcing prosecutors to close the probe again because of a lack of evidence, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said in December. Coulson has said he didn’t know the hacking was taking place.