UK watchdog launches probe into vital messages missing en route to India

London, Dec. 19 (ANI): The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Britain's privacy watchdog, has launched an investigation into claims that vital emails between senior executives and journalists on the News of the World have been "lost" while being transported to India.

Experts fear the missing emails - on computer hard disk drives that have reportedly vanished - could have major implications for the multiple investigations into claims the newspaper was involved in widespread hacking into the phone messages of targets from the worlds of politics, royalty and entertainment.

The investigation, according to The Independent, will add to mounting pressure on Andy Coulson, press secretary to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and a former editor of the News of the World.

Coulson, who denies any knowledge of the hacking, resigned from his post after Clive Goodman, the paper's former royal correspondent, was convicted of hacking the phones of Prince William's aides.

The latest investigation comes just days after lawyers acting for the actress Sienna Miller lodged a document at the High Court in London, saying they had found new evidence that would justify bringing prosecutions against other journalists from the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper.

The loss of the emails was revealed during the perjury trial of the former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan.

Sheridan claims the newspaper targeted him and that his personal phone records were hacked by a private investigator hired by the News of the World.

The revelations could add to the pressure on the Crown Prosecution Service to reopen the long-running News of the World phone-hacking case, after it announced earlier this month that there would be no further charges over the allegations.

The ICO confirmed that its head of enforcement is now investigating the complaint and would pursue it when the Sheridan trial finishes. (ANI)

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