Former prime minister Gordon Brown is the latest alleged victim of phone hacking by newspapers – but it is believed to be the Sunday Times that used his personal details in press reports.
The allegations mark an explosive turning point in the phone hacking scandal that has to date focused solely on the paper’s stablemate at News International, the News of the World.
Journalists from across News International allegedly repeatedly attempted to obtain information about Brown over a ten-year period when he was chancellor and as prime minister, the Guardian has revealed.
They accessed information from his bank account, his legal file and his family's medical records as well as trying to hack his voicemail.
It is also alleged that the Sunday Times used information gathered illegally to run a front page story revealing that Brown had bought a flat owned by Robert Maxwell very cheaply.
The news follows further allegations that News of the World journalists paid Scotland Yard royal protection officers for contact details for the Queen and up to nine other members of the royal family - far more than were previously thought to be hacked.
And shares in BSkyB fell 7.3 per cent this morning as the government asked the media regulator to consider whether undertakings provided by News Corp to secure a buyout of BSkyB were still credible in light of a phone hacking scandal.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will write to Ofcom to ask whether its original submissions around the deal should change following the phone hacking scandal that has damaged Rupert Murdoch's company.
British government lawyers were drawing up plans to block the deal, according to reports. \
Meanwhile deputy rime minister Nick Clegg hit out at Rupert Murdoch, urging him to reconsider his takeover bid for broadcaster BSkyB.
Clegg said the tycoon should do the "decent and sensible thing" and think again amid the scandal.