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U.K. tabloid detectives tailed lawyers

LONDON, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Lawyers representing victims of phone hacking by Britain's News of the World were followed by detectives hired by the newspaper, sources said.

The BBC reported Monday The News of the World, the former tabloid owned by News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch, employed an ex-police officer last year to spy on two attorneys representing alleged victims of phone hacking.

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Derek Webb of the private investigation firm, Silent Shadow, began tailing attorneys Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris in 2010, allegedly to look for evidence Lewis and Harris were in a relationship and sharing confidential information. Both attorneys were involved in cases against News International, the newspaper publishing division of News Corp., which owned The News of the World before the tabloid shut down.

The BBC said Lewis had been a threat to the tabloid by representing victims who had allegedly been phone hacked.

Any information obtained through surveillance was to be used to discredit Lewis and perhaps intimidate him, preventing the lawyer from taking on other phone hacking cases, the BBC said.

Lewis successfully had won a verdict of more than $800,000 for one of his clients, Gordon Taylor, chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association.

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