Inspector Knacker of the Yard is investigating whether The Times and the Sunday Times newspapers, which were bought by Rupert Murdoch in 1981, hacked into email accounts.
The investigation has been opened after the Leveson inquiry into phone tapping heard that a Times journalist hacked a police blogger’s email.
According to the BBC, Labour MP Tom Watson says he has received confirmation from the officers from Operation Tuleta, which is the Met’s investigation into computer operations.
Watson had written to the police on 23 January to ask whether they would investigate the matter after the newspaper admitted that one of its reporters tried to access a private account.
Lancashire detective Richard Horton was outed by the Times as the author of the NightJack blog in June 2009 after the High Court refused to grant him anonymity.
Times editor James Harding told the Leveson Inquiry that one of his reporters, Patrick Foster, was given a formal written warning for professional misconduct for gaining unauthorised access to Horton’s emails.
Harding claimed that Foster had, on his own initiative, sought unauthorised access to an email account and had been told to use legal means to out NightJack.
Reading between the lines it looks like Foster hacked into the email account, established the identity of NightJack, was told off for it and then stood it up using his own contacts and internet information.
The Times made a case in the High Court that the newspaper should be allowed to publish in the public interest. After the judge ruled the paper could publish in the public interest, the Times did it.
It is not clear how Foster hacked into Horton’s email account. No one else appears to be talking about it.