Simon Hughes: The Sun used phone records to force me to come out

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Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, has told the Leveson Inquiry that phone records obtained by The Sun newspaper forced him to come out as bisexual.

He told the inquiry into media ethics that the tabloid “had come by information which was records of telephone calls made by me”.

“As a result of that I then gave an interview. The Sun splashed on the story in January 2006 with the headline ‘Hughes: I have had gay sex’.”

In The Sun’s 2006 piece, Hughes admitted using a gay telephone chat service.

In an interview with in 2006, Hughes said: “The Sun came up with four allegations they were going to put to me, one of which one had some truth in it […] It was an unmanageable and unsustainable position. In the end, I called in Trevor Kavanagh – who wanted to talk to me – so that I could make a statement to him.”

On the background to the approach by The Sun, he had said: “I’d stood once for leader before, as party president, as Mayor of London, I’d stood for the GLC, council and seven times for Parliament and it had never really surfaced as an issue. Although the media are much more sensationalist now than ever before.”

Hughes told the Leveson Inquiry today the police had said to him in 2006 there was “incontrovertible” evidence his phone had been hacked unlawfully by Glenn Mulcaire, who was jailed for phone hacking in 2007.

Earlier this month, Hughes settled his phone-hacking damages claims against The Sun and ex-News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers for £45,000 and said he would “pursue” the matter of the police’s “failure” to further investigate the paper through the Leveson Inquiry.

In Hughes’ witness statement to the Inquiry, he writes that in a meeting with police in May 2011: “I was finally shown the documents which relate to me, which were mostly pages from notebooks seized from Mr Mulcaire by the police during their initial investigation in August 2006. The police showed me my original police statement from October 2006 and then 12 A4 pages from those notebooks.

“I was also shown transcripts of messages which had boon left on my voicemail service. In addition to this, I was shown a schedule of call data, which showed phone calls made by Mr Mulcaire to my
mobile phone.

“I was shocked to discover the level of detail in these notes. On one page alone, Mr Mulcaire had recorded my mobile number my direct dial number, an account number which I believe may have boon my mobile phone account number at the time, the password for my mobile phone account which I was using in 2005/2006, and the name of my network. This was everything Mr Mulcaire would have needed to listen to my voicemail messages at will.”

Mulcaire and the News of the World’s royal news editor Clive Goodman were jailed in 2007 for intercepting voicemail messages on phones belonging to aides of members of the royal family.

According to the Guardian, Hughes told the Inquiry today: “It was clear from September 2006 at the highest level the News of the World knew about this and therefore it was in the public interest that the News of the World and their employees should be held to account.

“It was not just a freelance agent employed on a contract basis. That’s for me where the significant failure occurred and the police for a reason I don’t understand decided not to.

“I understand why it may not have been easy to bring charges … but there was no prosecution against anyone other than Clive Goodman and Clive Goodman only because of his work with the royal family.

“There was a whole range of people clearly acting in concert either directly or indirectly illegally and they were not touched. I find it impossible to find a good explanation for why that happened.”