News International ordered deletion of thousands of e-mails

News International technology suppliers, HCL, are to be questioned after revelations that a mass deletion of e-mails occured

In the latest scandal of the phone hacking saga to emerge, it appears that News International ordered a mass deletion of thousands of its e-mails between April 2010 and July 2011.

According to reports, Senior MPs now want to question further HCL technologies, an Indian based IT firm, who are responsible for managing the e-mails of News International.

HCL who oversee the daily running of the e-mail system disclosed that they had disposed of hoards of internal e-mails on nine separate occasions over the last 16 months.

Labour MP, Tom Watson, who has avidly campaigned on hacking, believes there had been an attempt to erase data at the HCL facility in Chennai in order to conceal the extent of the phone hacking scandal.

A letter sent by HCL’s lawyer, reveals that the IT company were asked to delete a series of e-mails on three separate occasions in April last year, including a request to destroy more than 200,000 messages.

A further request was made in May this year, where 21,000 e-mails were erased, followed by the deletion of a ‘public folder’ full of messages in July.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, was greatly surprised by the revelations and confirmed that MPs would be pursuing HCL for further information.

‘The fact that so many e-mails have been deleted at the request of News International raises a number of further questions which we will continue to probe the company about,’ he said.

However, in the letter sent by HCL’s lawyer Stuart Benson, it stated that they did not know of anything ‘abnormal, untoward or inconsistent’ when the requests to delete certain files came through.

The company is keen to distance themselves from the scandal assuring that they do not hold ‘any information belonging to News International relevant to the subject matter of the current investigation.’

Instead their lawyer has asserted that, ‘It is a course entirely for News International, the police and your committee as to whether there was any other agenda or subtext when issues of deletion arose.’

HCL have also revealed that a third unnamed supplier was also involved in the deletion of data.

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