Coffee House

Kelvin MacKenzie: I was hacked too

28 September 2011

Kelvin MacKenzie reveals in tomorrow’s Spectator that he was interviewed as a
potential victim of the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Here’s his story:

It was the kind of building George Smiley would have been happy to call home.Anonymous and bleak, it’s the home of Operation Weeting, where 60 officers flog themselves to death every day in
the biggest Scotland Yard inquiry in anyone’s memory. I am here by appointment. A charming woman detective has called me a couple of times — when you are a former tabloid editor
that’s worrying in itself  — and asked me to drop by ‘at my convenience’ to look at the fact that my name and mobile number had been found in the paperwork of the
private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

At reception I ask for the detective. The receptionist asks if I am Kelvin MacKenzie. My experience over the years is not to own up to that question too quickly — especially in the Merseyside
area. After some hesitation I admit I am MacKenzie and he asks me to call a number scribbled on a scrap of paper. I ring the mobile and it’s answered by a detective sergeant. The sergeant
says he will be right down. I had hardly clicked off when the lift door opened and out stepped a friendly chap in his late forties who also asked me if I was Kelvin MacKenzie. Surely I am not being
charged with being Kelvin MacKenzie?

He turned out to be considerably further up the rozzers’ ladder.A detective chief superintendent, no less. He was then joined by the younger sergeant. I’ve seen this movie… good
cop, bad cop. I know their game.

Claim your gift

We went into a large empty room where the sergeant produced a tatty binder with my name down the side. By this time I was beginning to sweat. At that moment I would have even coughed to voting for
Blair in 1997. There was a dramatic pause as the sergeant opened up the binder. Sheet one had my name on it with a number by the side. Was it mine? Yes it was. The next page was more interesting.
It had the pin code used to access my phone’s voicemails. Up to this moment I had always believed that the pin codes of mobiles were 0000 or 1111 and that’s why it was so easy to crack.
But no. In my case it was something like 367549V27418. That surely must kill the idea that the hackers guessed or blagged the number — they must have had inside help from the phone networks.

And then with a flourish we came to the final page. This was the one that mattered. There were six dates in the spring of 2006, each showing the time and duration of my phone being hacked. One of
them was three minutes long, the rest much shorter.  

For the first time I felt uneasy. If you have been editor of the Sun for 12 years, if you have floated and run a public company as founder, chairman and chief executive, very little worries or
concerns you any more; your nerve endings have become encased in cement. But oddly I felt quite threatened by this invasion and understood more clearly why celebrities — no matter if they
were A or Z listers — felt they had been violated. You see, there are three sides to this triangle and it’s the last side where the money and the hurt lies.

Side one is the name and mobile number. Side two is the actual hacking of the voicemail. Side three is information gained from the voicemail that has a value to the media.  

The helpful and intelligent officers wanted to know if there was anything published around that time which came as a surprise because of its private nature. It was five years ago and I simply
couldn’t remember but I doubted it: I am sub-Kerry Katona in showbiz terms. The only possible interest at that time was I was going through my divorce. Tabloid editor divorces — is that
a story? After an hour it was time to leave and I asked if I could have a copy of the notes but was told that if I needed them for a civil action, then I would have to go through Scotland Yard.

In any event, I won’t be taking News International’s money. That would be a betrayal of the many happy years I spent there, plus I have a sense that to pocket the cash — and one
lawyer was anxious for me to know that it would be tax free, always attractive — would be to indicate I thought Rupert Murdoch would ever have turned a blind eye to the hackings.

I have an advantage over you. I know Rupert Murdoch and I know he would have gone ballistic at the very thought of such actions. At 81 he may be old but he’s not daft. I should be so daft.

Still, I do reflect that in those 60 minutes I spent with the two police officers by Putney Bridge that my previous hostile attitude to the hacked stars had changed forever. As has my pin number.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • Paul W

    Operation Weeting should be suspended indefinitely and the officers on it transferred to sorting out crimes from last month’s riots. All the victims of phone hacking seem to have access to expensive lawyers and could easily take civil action if bothered.

    The Metropolitan Police should act according to the priorities of Londobners not those of Tom Watson MP and News International’s commercial rivals.

  • smell the red and white glove

    Oh dear
    The Heavyweight of British journalism was hacked. What did they want to find out Kelvin wich game show or reality programme you were on next. Maybee they wanted to know how low a man has to stoop feeding off the television scraps that you do after your newspaper carrer went down the pan. They could be wanting to find out how a man deals with the embarrasment of getting caught out lying,about Liverpool supporters peeing on dead liverpool supporters at Hillsborough.Maybee they were told you had empathy and wanted to hear it.

  • michael

    Like butter wouldn’t melt… ho hm.

  • Ethan

    I agree with Martin, toss not give a. Any news on the GMG / Scott Trust multi million pound tax avoidance scams? And how Polly Tuscan Villa Toynbee can sleep at night working for such a disreputable organisation that virtually defrauds the British taxpayer? Yes that story the one the MSM is covering up. Any news about that one?

  • Baron

    funny dear Kelvin didn’t say whether he himself ever used anything he knew, suspected to come from hacking when he ran the Sun.

    Martin, nope, you ain’t the only one, the vast majority of the unwashed doesn’t give a toss either, but what wouldn’t the pseudo-liberal BBC tossers do to kill any competition.

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Martin : 4.47pm

    “Am I the only one who really doesn’t care about all this so called hacking? Most of it is stirred up by the BBC/Guardian to get to Cameron over Andy Coulson.”

    I agree that in the general scheme of things the hacking is not of any great importance. Of much greater importance, however, and the reason why this particular area of interest is so great, is the lying that’s gone on about the hacking, and the truth or otherwise of the impression that’s been gained from this, that it’s possible to build a power-base from which one can do wrong almost with impunity, because if caught, one can just keep lying and threatening until the authorities realise that pursuing this is fraught with danger, and that they’d do better by choosing to lose interest. Hence, the problem disappears.

  • alexsandr

    mebbe he will change his voice mail password from ‘0000’ now.

  • Martin

    The long number Kelvin mentions is likely to be the IMEI number of the phone, that is a long number, that will link the phone to the sim card.

    Am I the only one who really doesn’t care about all this so called hacking? Most of it is stirred up by the BBC/Guardian to get to Cameron over Andy Coulson.

    The BBC especially keeps hyping this non story, I just wonder what tactics the BBC have used in the past to get information. Have the BBC ever employed private detectives? Can the BBC be sure of the tactics used being legal?

    Also, we know the Guardian is getting info from the Police, what is the motivation? the Guardian ‘claim’ they are not paying plod, but why should we believe them? If the plod involved is not being paid why is he risking his career or pension by leaking information? Does the Guardian have something on him or his family? Is he politically motivated?

    It’s about time plod started investigating the BBC and the Guardian, they seem to think they are both above the law.

  • EC


    Ye Gods! Not the EDL, again.
    They must be everywhere ….
    and they DO know where you live you know.


  • Don

    Well Kelvin, I’m sure if mobile phones were prevalent in the 80s you would’ve hacked the phones of the family’s you LIED about in your old rag.

  • starfish


    The voicemail PIN cannot be anything other than 4 digits – the PIN quoted may be how it was stored or accessed through their system

    By the way is there anyone in the universe who has not been hacked?

    Even the sainted Jade Goody (smell of compo in the air…..!)

  • Simon Stephenson.

    Might Kelvin MacKenzie have an interest in this saga beyond doing his bit to help the process of the guilty getting their just rewards, but no more than their just rewards? Dunno, but surely he knows that he’s a bit close to the action to think that we should just take it that he hasn’t?

  • Woodstein

    ha ha

  • Ernie Belter

    An attack of empathy. Don’t worry, Kelvin, it’ll soon pass

  • LibertarianLou

    Are you surprised?

    What do you expect from these people?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here