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News Corporation’s denial that it hacked supermodel Elle Macpherson's phone before 2006 has already cost her former business manager her job, and may mean she loses her family home – but it appears to be false.
This week a ‘'supergrass’' tabloid journalist told the phone hacking trial in the UK that Macpherson’s name was on a list of celebrities given to him by the News of the World, the UK newspaper controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, at the start of 2005 - on the understanding that he was to hack her voicemails.
And Fairfax can reveal that the notes of the News of the World's investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who has already pleaded guilty to hacking Macpherson’s voicemails, contain several hints that his interest in her dates back to at least 2003.
Happier times ... Elle Macpherson and Mary-Ellen Field in San Diego in May 2005. Photo: Supplied
On Monday the trial at the Old Bailey heard that Dan Evans has pleaded guilty to phone hacking at the Sunday Mirror between 2003 and 2005, and the News of the World between 2004 and 2010.
Evans appeared as a prosecution witness and said that after 2003 the “screwing around of people’s telephonic data was a pretty standard tool in the tabloid kit”.
When he joined the News of the World in January 2005, he said, he was given a list of celebrities including Macpherson, Geri Halliwell and Sean Bean, and was told to hack the interesting ones.
Australian businesswoman Mary-Ellen Field was sacked by Macpherson in late 2005, after Macpherson accused her of leaking personal information to the press.
Last year Ms Field was forced to drop her compensation claim against News Corporation, partly because she could not find enough evidence to counter News’ claim that Macpherson’s phone was hacked only after January 2006.
News has since relentlessly pursued Ms Field to pay its legal costs, a sum so far put at £75,000 ($142,000) and which could go higher. Fairfax understands that, in its latest move, News has applied for a charge over Ms Field’s family home in London.
Mulcaire, who was on a £100,000-a-year retainer to News of the World, listened to private messages left for Macpherson by her family, and celebrities including Orlando Bloom and Victoria Beckham.
Fairfax has seen copies of documents – a handful of loose pages of A4 paper from Mulcaire’s notes – that suggest his interest in Macpherson dates back to at least 2003.
The documents have never before been publicly revealed. They were among 11,000 pages police took from Mulcaire’s home and office in 2006.
The notes contain names, dates, scraps of information and mobile phone numbers – including Macpherson’s and her voicemail’s PIN code.
They also contain transcripts of recordings made by Mulcaire from messages left on Macpherson’s voicemail.
In one, a voice identified as ‘Orlando’ – believed to be Orlando Bloom – says he hasn’t heard from Macpherson “for ages, and I was just ringing to send lots of love”.
In another, ‘'Victoria'’ – believed to be Victoria Beckham – invites her to a UNICEF party, and suggests the supermodel sit at her family table.
The transcripts appear to be from voicemails recorded in early 2006.
However, Mulcaire was hacking voicemails years earlier, and the notes contain several clues that he Mulcaire was targeting Macpherson from at least 2003.
One page is dated 5/4/03 at the top left-hand corner, and has “Elle Macpherson” written at the bottom. It has notes about a villa in what appears to be ‘'San Antonio'’, and dates in July.
Macpherson privately booked a holiday in a villa in San Antonio, Ibiza, for July 2003, according to Ms Field.
Another page - dated 4/4 but with no year, has Macpherson’s name on it, as well as the names ‘'Field’' and ‘'K Phillips'’. Ms Field says she discussed with Kathy Phillips, a former beauty editor at Vogue magazine, a proposal for Macpherson to speak at a Cosmetic Executive Women event to take place in May 2005.
A third undated page, which has ''Elle Macpherson'' and ''New South Wales Australia'' in capital letters at the top, has the name ''Ingrid'' next to the circled word "PA".
Ms Field says a woman named Ingrid Ricciardello was Macpherson's PA from late 2003, but quit in mid-2004.
On the same page appears the name ‘'Bruce Coley'’, together with ''Man Ray Club New York with Kate Moss and Arpad Busson'', and ''New Mayfair Club''.
According to contemporary gossip column reports, in 2003 Bruce Colley, part-owner of New York restaurant Man Ray, invited Kate Moss and Elle Macpherson to invest in a new club in Mayfair, London.
In 2011 News Corp offered to pay Ms Field £40,000 damages and promised "not to use or publish ... information obtained by third parties accessing voicemail messages left for or by [Ms Field]".
Ms Field declined the offer, and last year News Corp opposed her case, arguing there was no evidence to support her claim, and on legal advice she dropped it.
A News Corporation (then News International) source told Fairfax last year that "yes it was established that Elle Macpherson’s voicemail was intercepted but it was after Ms Field ceased to work for her".
Contacted again this week and asked if that was still the company’s position, a News Corporation spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment while legal proceedings were ongoing.
Ms Field also said this week she was unable to comment about the latest revelation, for legal reasons.
Fairfax tried unsuccessfully to seek comment from Macpherson.