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Newspaper hired disgraced investigator

Jan. 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM

LONDON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- The editor of Britain's Sunday Mail told the panel investigating alleged phone hacking by journalists his newspaper hired a disgraced private investigator.

Peter Wright said Wednesday he was "uncomfortable" to learn his employees had paid investigator Steve Whittamore $30,697 to trace information on people, The Guardian reported.

Wright told the so-called Leveson panel his newspaper, officially called The Mail on Sunday, still sanctions cash payments but as far as he knew the biggest in recent years was about $5,000.

The panel is investigating the culture, practices and ethics of the British press.

Earlier, Wright was questioned about a news article dealing with a $12 million home purchased by Lord Peter Mandelson.

Mandelson argued that because he was no longer in politics, there was no public interest in publishing such a story.

"I think there's a public interest in knowing how somebody who until a year previously had been a government minister on a generous, but not over-generous, salary was able to afford such a house," Wright told the panel.

He said the story was obtained by proper means from a member of the public.

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