In the Media

Alleged News of the World hacker is a former army intelligence officer

PUBLISHED February 24, 2012

Philip Campbell Smith's military background revealed after legal challenge by the Guardian against court restriction

A man at the centre of allegations that computers were hacked for the News of the World is a former army intelligence officer, it can now be revealed.

Philip Campbell Smith pleaded guilty on Monday at Kingston crown court to unrelated offences of conspiring to illegally access private information for profit and possession of ammunition.

He became a private investigator after leaving the army, and is alleged to have hacked the computer of a former British army intelligence officer in 2006, as part of a commission from the News of the World.

A restriction on reporting Smith's military background was put in place on Monday after his barrister told the judge that publication could expose his client to a terrorist threat.

The ban was lifted on Friday following a legal challenge by the Guardian. Smith is a former army officer who worked for the controversial force research unit (FRU), which operated in Northern Ireland.

The computer that Smith allegedly hacked belonged to a former British intelligence officer, Ian Hurst. The two were one-time colleagues and had shared a house while serving in Northern Ireland.

Before the FRU, he had served in special forces.

The hacking was allegedly carried out in July 2006 after Hurst was sent an email containing a Trojan programme, which copied his emails and relayed them back to the hacker.

In the 1990s, Smith worked with a former SAS man, Charlie Johnson, for a security company in London. He specialised in physical surveillance and told friends that he did jobs for the News of the World, including the monitoring of a woman who is close to the royal family. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds