WaPo’s New Publisher, Editor Used Fraudulently Obtained Phone Records For Stories: Report

The publisher and incoming editor of The Washington Post used fraudulently obtained phone and company records in newspaper articles as journalists in London, according to a former colleague, the published account of a private investigator and an analysis of newspaper archives.

Will Lewis, The Post’s publisher, assigned one of the articles in 2004 as business editor of The Sunday Times. Another was written by Robert Winnett, whom Mr. Lewis recently announced as The Post’s next executive editor.

The use of deception, hacking and fraud is at the heart of a long-running British newspaper scandal, one that toppled a major tabloid in 2010 and led to years of lawsuits by celebrities who said that reporters improperly obtained their personal documents and voice mail messages.

Mr. Lewis has maintained that his only involvement in the controversy was helping to root out problematic behavior after the fact, while working for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

But a former Sunday Times reporter said on Friday that Mr. Lewis had personally assigned him to write an article in 2004 using phone records that the reporter understood to have been obtained through hacking.

After that story broke, a British businessman who was the subject of the article said publicly that his records had been stolen. The reporter, Peter Koenig, described Mr. Lewis as a talented editor — one of the best he had worked with. But as time went on, he said Mr. Lewis changed.

(This story originally appeared in The New York Times.)

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